The Lessons I’ve Learnt About Love

Ships are important

When I talk about the ‘ships’, I’m not referring to the sinking Titanic or the famous HMS Belfast. I’m talking about the ships that are a huge part of our social life, our friendships and romantic relationships. The ships are a notoriously common topic among 20-something year olds so what’s a more appropriate topic to address?

My driver for this piece is that my beliefs of what these two relationships mean and look like has changed quite a fair bit since I was a teen.

Keep reading for a few lessons in romantic relationships which I have grown to understand over the years.

1. Relationships should NEVER feel like a chore 

Are you lacking the drive to make plans with your significant other and have felt this way on a few occasions? There may be a bigger problem than you may think.

Have you had to repeatedly use the following excuses?

“I can’t see you tonight I’ve had a long day.”

“Do you mind if we re-schedule?”

“Sorry I’m cancelling, my friend/family member/goldfish is having a hard time.”

It’s super easy to convince yourself that your lack of enthusiasm towards a relationship is down to everything else.

These excuses may well be the truth here and there…BUT if you notice a reoccurring pattern of excuses crop up in your head, your mind is telling you that you would rather be doing, well pretty much anything else.

I’ve seen this cycle of people (including myself) ignoring their gut feelings and continuing to see someone because they feel like they have to for months and even years.

A relationship should always have an element of excitement, no matter how long you’ve been together. If it doesn’t; then sorry honey, they’re just not right for you.

2. You should feel as though you can live your life EXACTLY how you want to live it

Give me a drum roll for the extremely generic and overly positive quote that I’m about to throw your way…

You only live once so do what makes YOU happy. Ah that felt good. Roll your eyes all you want but it is 100% true.

We’ve all got one go at life and it’s better to be single with 20 cats than to be in a relationship that holds you back (by the way I am not attacking cat lovers one bit here). A relationship which restricts you in any way can manifest in lots of different ways. It can affect your career, friendships, family time, lifestyle choices and as a result of any of these; most importantly, your happiness. I’ve learnt that a relationship which prevents you from thriving in any of these areas is not a relationship worth holding on to. 

3. Trust your gut, it’s right 99.9% of the time

This point links to the first. You know that horrible knot you can get in your stomach? Yes well, that is there to securely hold your life together (hence the knot). If you feel it, then listen to it.

If your gut is screaming NOO every time they look your way instead of filling you with butterflies, your body wants you to use your fight or flight and get out of there.

As a teen I wanted to do the cool thing in the eyes of the young society and my friends rather than the thing that felt right. I’ve learnt that if a relationship feels right and you feel totally comfortable and happy then who’s to tell you that it’s wrong?

4. If you have to hesitate, it’s never a good sign

If you’re doing any of the below, then I’m waving a massive red flag right at you:

  • Holding back how you’re feeling
  • Keeping secrets (I’m not talking about a surprise birthday party)
  • Avoidance of telling other people that you’re in a relationship
  • Feeling embarrassed of them, their behaviour or even your relationship

These are major warning signs, so please, please listen to them.

To conclude…

  1. Never stay in a relationship if it feels like a chore
  2. Live your live how you want to without a relationship getting in the way
  3. ALWAYS trust your gut
  4. This is a no hesitation station
You know what they say… those who eat together, stay together.

Leaving Lockdown Life (Kind of)

OK so life during lockdown has been extremely difficult for us all, but the transition back to normality is nearly as challenging as doing a cartwheel with your eyes shut. Try it, I dare you. In my eyes, the biggest stumbling block during this tricky time has been the inconsistent rules and conflicting views on the ‘right’ thing to do. 

It has to be the only time in history that adults are told that it’s fine to get obliterated on a Friday night in a heaving pub with their falling-on-the-floor friends but are strictly not allowed to sit a desk away from their sensible colleagues in the spacious office on that same Friday. 

Children and teenagers are told that they can’t study for their exams in school but it’s more than acceptable to go to their friends’ birthday parties where they’ll be passing the parcel and sharing cake. 

Us youngsters are a little confused and what doesn’t help is that we all have very explicit opinions and aren’t afraid to hide them. As expected, us Brits didn’t all abide by the Government’s rules. As soon as there was a lack of clarity coming from high up, people saw it as an opportunity to push the boundaries and purposely misinterpret the guidance of what us troublesome humans could get away with. It would be wrong not to mention the Dominic Cummings hoo-har, none of us could’ve seen that coming… Pun intended.

Picture this: Southend-on-Sea, mid-May, there’s a heatwave. We all saw the monstrosity on the news, it was reported the busiest May in 7 years. Although the lockdown measures weren’t as stringent as in previous months, thousands of people within close proximity on a bustling beach is not ideal during a global pandemic. 

But that didn’t stop me from going… I went with my significant other, I snapped it, I posted it (of course) and I got criticism for it. See, technically I wasn’t breaking any rules. I kept my distance, I didn’t sit on the beach and didn’t even get in my bikini. Sounds like a boring beach day, I KNOW. We were simply on a day out in our home county. We just happened to be surrounded; from an acceptable distance, by herds of people who had travelled far and wide to get to the slightly tacky Southend beach – personally I don’t see that much of an attraction. 

“I hope this picture wasn’t taken today”. To which I replied “yes, yes it was”. The reaction I received to my response would have been appropriate if I had just committed a murder in broad daylight. 

As I previously mentioned, our generation tend not to be afraid of pointing out when they think something isn’t quite right, which is great most of the time. The majority of negative pointers tend to happen over the well established shield of social media which seems to give people confidence that they wouldn’t have a fraction of in person. 

I truly believe that during these testing times, we should avoid unnecessary criticism and spread droplets of kindness on our way to our weekly shop; and in my case, on my way to Southend beach. 

Life in Lockdown

Visual representation of my life in lockdown.

I’ll start this post by giving you a snippet of what my life looked like before this period of gloom rudely intruded. If I had to pick three adjectives to sum up my pre-isolation life, they would be unpredictable, fast-paced and exciting. My social life was at the heart of everything. I would count down the days of the working week knowing that my weekend would be packed with activities and gatherings with my beloved friends and family. I used to love keeping a diary which included my various mid-week gym classes and multiple coffee dates with my colleagues and friends.

Friday after work would usually be penciled in as ‘a few drinks’ in the bar opposite work but would naturally result in getting a 11pm drunken McDonalds and just about making the last train home. Saturdays would most likely involve a tactical shopping trip with friends, timed precisely to ensure I miss any football games which, without a shadow of a doubt would be streaming on my living room TV.

Saturday nights were for date nights, depending on how much money we spent out the night before, we would either go out for dinner and (yes more) drinks or sit at home watching trash tv with (you guessed it) a few drinks. Skip to Sunday and I would make time for some self- care and family, ensuring that I had just about enough energy to make it through the next working week.

Ok let’s skip to the here and now. We’re mid-June and its 86th day of lockdown. Before you ask, I did indeed have to use my calculator to work that out. Which has prompted me to discuss one of my most prominent side effects of lockdown, reduced brain activity.

The other day, I decided that this must be how it feels to be forced into very early retirement. I feel as though I’ve been dragged out of my little bubble and placed into a residential home but without any of the benefits, like having other residents to natter with and playing a cheeky round of bingo on a Friday afternoon. I’m lacking stimulation and purpose.

Granted, I’m lucky to still have a job, but when your morning commute is walking to the dining table and the only office banter is with your partner, it hardly feels like work at all.

Weekends are just as troubling. I’m convinced that the dip in the sofa is there for good now after my arse sits there for hours at a time. I’ve seen so many posts online with cheesy and ‘motivational’ messages like ‘now is the time to find yourself’ or ‘use this time to do something amazing’. I’m sorry but are these people living in the same world as me?! We’re going through a global pandemic, I’m struggling to make it through each day and you’re now telling me to FIND MYSELF!? The only thing I’ve found out about myself is that my attention span is a lot shorter than I ever imagined and I’ve got a serious snacking issue.