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How do you decide whether to continue to contact someone without seeming too eager? I follow a strictly 1 for 1 communication policy.

January 23, 2011

See the earlier question about having one credit. One for one is good – though you’re allowed one double negative. That is, if there’s been no contact since you last talked or met up, you can – for one time only – meet that negative credit (negative because he hasn’t got in touch since) with another one, eg, you getting in touch. The key to not seeming too eager is timing. Depending on how solid you think the connection was/is (that answers your question about “how” to decide to contact someone), wait enough time so that while it’s still fresh, it doesn’t seem like you have no life. Any time between four days and a week is good – longer than a week is usually fine too, if you can bear it.


Oh to be young again…not

January 23, 2011

My friend Jo and I were sitting in a Japanese restaurant in the City on Thursday night – a hidden treasure called Soseki – when we came to a joint conclusion. “We’ve squandered our twenties!” We pounded the table tragically, sake flying everywhere, seeing with sudden clarity that only now, as 30 draws near, we are ready to be 23 and to DO IT RIGHT. To luxuriate in the distance of problems like ultimate career success, future fame, husbands and biology and instead to go about making them happen (the first two, I mean). If only we knew ourselves as well at 20-23 as we do now (sort of), we could have dispensed with all that binge-drinking, insecure and self-destructive behaviour and just been awesome. If only. Goodbye twenties, goodbye! Weep-weep.

On Friday night, however, I had cause to reflect on a different aspect of being old: relief. I was in Cambridge, reviewing its first proper hotel, the Varsity (I strongly recommend forking out the 450 odd for its wall-to-wall windowed penthouse suite, room 613, for proposal night or Valentine’s Day or whatever).

Anyway, the evening provided me with a chance to observe undergraduate life seven years on. Undergrads are better looking and better dressed these days. But they’re still obsessed with gross things, are perfectly happy to surrender all physical dignity and to dim their supposedly prime brains with a range of available and unavailable substances. I felt a sickly shiver more than once at the idea that I, too, used to be one of these intensely unhealthy-living dorm-dwellers never far from the raucous, puke-spattered world of the drinking society and the formal hall (I studiously avoided the puke part, thank you).

Anyway, after good French wine in the penthouse with my also-aged friend Tom, and dinner at the next-door riverside restaurant (swordfish, very nice too), we headed up to Churchill College to check out a Friday night party it holds called Pav. Churchill is the college of a youthful friend and associate of mine (hi Rhodri!) and so his job was to meet us and show us to Pav and generally give us a taste of how the youth live these days.

Up reels Rhoders, near to passing out at 10:55pm (how many times did I collapse before 10pm following a formal hall? Many), slurring his words and as he put it, utterly “mashed”. Through the brick edifice he led us to Pav where, unfortunately, there were only a few people dancing awkwardly. The DJ was dressed in a toga-thing; there were men wandering around as Romans. Evidently the night’s theme.

So off we go to Rhodri’s room – a bit more to drink and so on. Trance music is put on and we stare into space, paying homage to its awesome power with a deep look at the wall (heavy, man). A couple barge in – high on life, evidently – though quite grown-up and attractive and seeming a bit incongruous with the student surroundings.

Within minutes, news travels of a person who may or may not be slumped in the toilet. This is a source of great hilarity to the undergrads – the door won’t open and said person has probably passed out in it. Tom and I looked at each other with wry concern. Upstairs to the next WC then.

On our way out later, we meet another couple heading to a toilet in the belief that their friend is unconscious in it. More chuckling (from them).

Pav has filled up now. It’s heaving with toga’d men and girls in short skirts. Fat Boy Slim keeps playing and there’s a dense crowd dancing. The place is swimming in sweat; nobody has any bodily awareness. We linger on the outskirts, observing the scene: bright young things, wasted, dancing in an ugly brick room covered in sweat and drink; and us, trapped in our observational mode, with neither the interest nor ability to let loose.

Perhaps there was a time when I’d have judged myself harshly for being the observer, for not being able to engage in this scene of grim merriment. Now, I understand my reaction. Let them have fun, but vomit, togas and the furious, debauched exclusivity of drinking societies whose initiations involve applicants drinking their own sick and worse, is so far from being my kind of fun anymore. And I’m glad of it. Swordfish – and certainly the right amount of champagne – over sick any day. I just wish I knew this sooner.

I slept with someone the other night who said he couldn’t perform when wearing a condom. So we did it unprotected – he didn’t seem dodgy. I quite like him- he’s asked me out since. But should I hate him? Should I hate myself?

January 22, 2011

A lot of women – surprisingly sensible ones at that – allow unprotected sex to happen because a condom is either unavailable or undesirable. But I think that when a man makes excuses about condoms such as the performance one, or complains it’s uncomfortable, it’s a sign that he is both foolish and hopelessly selfish. My advice and instinct would be to write him off as that, and move on. What he is doing – and let’s not mince our words – is putting his penile preference before your safety, health and peace of mind. Remember, there is no reason you should be expected to “trust” him – how are you to know for sure who he has slept with unprotected and who they have slept with?

You say he’s asked you out since and you like him. If you really think he’s not foolish and selfish, and you plan to see each other regularly, then I hope he’s got an appointment at the STD clinic scheduled for a full array of tests (yes, even the uncomfortable ones, like Chlamydia). And you too, of course.

If you’re not at this stage, then have a deep think. It’s not new that condoms aren’t the best for feeling, but plenty of men can function with them fine. It’s a matter of saying: “I will wear one” or “I do wear them” rather than “Do I have to?” or “I guess we can try”. The latter two never works, the first do work. The stalemate is this: no condoms, no sex. Don’t “try” to stick to this, do stick to it. Frankly, to have to even be in a position to insist on this is beneath an adult woman – but so that you don’t suffer that agonising anxiety following unprotected sex (we’ve all been there), please do it. It may at least force him to approach latex with a more determined attitude.

Is it wrong to go silent on a guy because you’ve found out he’s into new age weirdy stuff?

January 22, 2011

Depends how far into a relationship with him you are. Going silent is not a nice thing to do to anyone who has fair expectations of dialogue with you. If its a new thing, it’s more acceptable, but still pretty harsh. As for the new age stuff, that’s as fair a turnoff as any – discovering the guy you’re bonking believes in UFOs either won’t bother you too much (if you’re just with him for the sex) or it’ll freak you out beyond compare. If you were considering going out with this person, then running a mile is a good plan – life’s short and you don’t want to be spending it worshipping the solstice at Stonehenge. As for how to run the mile, maybe you could pretend an alien took away your power of speech?

Is the old rule about not sleeping with someone on the first date still important?

January 22, 2011

Ooh, tricky one. But in reality, this one has ALWAYS been a “how long is a piece of string?” question. It depends on the quality of the sex, the attraction, and the person. Some men lose all interest in a woman because she’s slept with them on the first date. Appallingly, they’re just wired like that. To them, a woman is the mysteries of her vagina, and once he’s been inside, she’s no longer of particular interest. If you sniff he might be one of these (the signs can include traditional upbringing, perhaps a touch ego-centric, or obvious penis-led roguedom), play it safe. That said, you often can’t tell. But, as a lot of the men of which I asked this very question for my book, What the Hell Is He Thinking?, said: if you’ve slept with THEM on the first date, they’ve also slept with YOU on the first date. Men and women often react differently to sex, true, but the point is that most of the men I spoke to (they were nice guys, in general), said that not only would it necessarily be a turnoff, it could be a sign of real, explosive attraction. (NB: I know a few married couples who shagged on the first meeting.)

On balance, though, it’s risky. “Rules” aside, many men agree that it can set the bar too high too soon, leading to fizzling before you’ve had a chance to develop your passion. I can see what they mean even though I don’t see it the same way. Try holding out a bit – as far as I can tell, second date sex is vastly superior to first date sex. Third date sex is even better, and so on (well, no, after the third date it just gets tiresome to wait. We’re not in high school, after all.)

I’ve never enjoyed oral sex. Is there something wrong with me?

January 22, 2011

I’m assuming you’re a woman. The answer is no. For some reason oral sex is hailed as the holy grail of pleasure, and if you aren’t sent into paroxysms of ecstasy because a man is ferociously grizzling and licking your most sensitive regions, FAIR ENOUGH I say. I find that often when you’re met with disbelief that it’s not your preference, it’s disbelief from a man, who thinks that his skills are so great that all women must swoon. Telling him differently can be an ego-bash. But that’s not your concern. Your concern is to lever his face out of your crotch and get the pair of you doing something more mutually enjoyable.

I took a guy home with me the other night and we slept together. He wasn’t overly friendly the next morning and I haven’t heard from him since – I like him though. Should I get in touch and if so how long should I wait?

January 22, 2011

Yes, you can get in touch. I wouldn’t say “should”, though. The golden rule is that if you have that itch, that “what if” feeling, you’ve got one credit to send an unsolicited message. The brutal truth is that, in most cases, if he hasn’t got in touch after sex, he’s not overly bothered about you and no message is going to change that. However, in about half of cases, you can bring about a second meeting with that single credit. Occasionally, that second meeting can lead to a third, which can lead to the tables changing. As for how long, I think waiting five days is fine. You don’t want to leave it so long that it appears you’ve been obsessing about it for ages. Approach with caution though: try your best to be realistic about the results your little “hello, anyone there?” message. A 50 per cent failure rate makes it risky.