Abida Mian's Blog

An outlier that's living, learning and being myself…

Archive for June, 2010

“Loveisblind.com – the complexities of internet dating”

Years ago, the idea of using a dating website deemed you a pathetic loser, geeky or unable to get a date – in my case the geek label probably holds true. However, attitudes have changed somewhat and the majority of people on internet sites (paid subscriptions not chat rooms) are in most respects normal, professional people who are either; looking for the right person, serial daters or simply curious. In fact, I read an article that stated approximately 5 million Britons are using internet dating sites. So does it work? As a self- confessed veteran of internet dating, I will attempt to relive past & recent experiences, then it’s up to you to form an opinion…

Background:

This is the point where I bare my soul. I started dating at the age of 20 – yes, I know pretty old considering these days children half that age are getting pregnant! In all honesty when I was in my teens I wasn’t remotely interested in boys my own age, instead I felt an attraction for men almost twice my own. Having gone to an all girls secondary school up until the age of 18, where my only focus was studying hard, romance was never given a second thought until I came to London to study at university. The difference being that I was now studying in a predominantly male field (Physics), although you’d think that being a girl with a wide selection of intelligent men, the odds of me dating a guy at uni were far greater than of meeting one on an internet dating site; the truth was that I found internet dating far easier.

There are a plethora of reasons why people find it easier to meet potential mates online than in everyday life. For me it was and still is genuine shyness. Although there were and still are times when I know men are attracted to me, they more often than not are waiting for my signal that I’m interested, and I just can’t do it! Besides, I’m more comfortable expressing emotion via words in a blog than by speech or body language. Apart from overcoming shyness, another benefit of internet dating is that you don’t have the awkwardness that if it doesn’t work out then you won’t bump into them at work or at social gatherings. Most people that haven’t experienced online dating assume that the best way to find someone is to hang out at a bar or pub. Granted, as a non-drinker, I could prey on drunken men and take advantage of them, but that’s not really my style 😉

Meeting in a bar versus via the net:

At a bar: It’s only human nature (ahem shallowness) that men approach women purely on a physical basis, at this stage the man has nothing else to go on. You start chatting without knowing a lot about them…

Online: Depending on how perceptive you are, analysing what’s written in someone’s dating profile, the emails they send, phone conversations, you build a picture of what they’re like as a person. Taking time to get to know someone and then meeting appeals to me more than the bar type scenario. The only disadvantage is if you don’t find them attractive, can just personality/intelligence ever be enough?

Experiences:

Years ago, I was browsing the internet and I came across an advert for datingdirect.com. Curious, I decided to search men in my area and complete a profile. Then I suddenly started getting messages off other members, replying only to those that could manage to string together more than just a one-liner ‘hey babe’ response. Initially, I wasn’t purposely looking for the ‘perfect’ man as I was only in my early twenties and had no real experience of relationships; one thing that I was sure of was that I wanted to meet someone that was reasonably well-educated. I recall one date with a public school/LSE educated economist in his early thirties. We met a couple of times; he seemed like a nice guy but noticed he was a little timid. Anyway, he invited me one evening to his place for dinner, we had good conversation, and then he gives me a tour of his flat finally ending up in his bedroom – at which point he says that he has something to show me (I know what you’re thinking!). He bizarrely opens one of his cupboards to reveal dominatrix style magazines, not knowing what to say, he then proceeded to tell me that although he’s successful and earns lots of money in his professional life, he conversely prefers to be submissive when in a relationship with a woman. Out comes his whip and dog collar, he then kneels on the floor asking me to whip him whilst wanting me to tell him that he’s worthless, stupid… I try my best not to laugh at this point, but before I make my polite excuses and a sharp exit, I just had to whip him once; I mean how often does an Asian girl get to torture a White posh man 😉

Unperturbed by that experience, I meet a film director called Alex, who completely blew me away with his over 6ft frame, blonde hair, blue eyes and German accent. He picks me up in his black sports car and takes me to a fancy restaurant. All I could think was why someone this good-looking would need to use a dating site, although he was very beautiful to look at, our conversation revolved around him working with celebrities, which became a little boring after a while, but he was a genuinely nice gentleman. This proved to me that although attraction is an important element, for me that alone isn’t enough.

Most recently, I haven’t really been actively looking. Just before Christmas, I met an older man (40’s) who was a barrister. He was very articulate, generous but he had an interest in naked parties. Yes, again I end up meeting someone who on the surface you’d never expect would have a peculiar fetish. I ended up going to one such party (as you do), which was very exclusive, full of people who just liked walking around naked. I stayed in my clothes for the duration. It was interesting to see what these parties consist of, but I just wasn’t interested, so I didn’t see him again…

After that I went on a couple of dates with a normal guy, who I did actually like. He’d just come out of a long-term relationship and over dinner we started talking about our experiences, and he admitted that he had cheated on his partner with a girl a couple of times. Although he regrets his actions, for me, faithfulness is an absolute requirement, what’s to say that if we ended up together, he wouldn’t do that to me. Starting off not trusting someone is never a good idea!

My close friend, Jessica, recently put me on a site called mysinglefriend.com. I actually think it’s a pretty simple site and the chances of me meeting another fetish obsessed man are pretty low here 😉

Conclusion

I have met some really lovely people via the internet, and I do think there is potential to find love online, but it can often appear as a numbers game. For anyone that hasn’t tried it, you’d be surprised at the many educated, successful men & women that use dating sites, mainly because in these modern times where we work longer hours, are career-obsessed and spend most of our time online, what’s simpler than arranging a date in the comfort of your own home than spending hours chatting up people in bars & clubs?

The only pitfall is that some can become addicted to the ease at which you can meet new people, so if you’re looking for something long-term, it may prove difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff!

If I had more confidence, I’d flirt more with my neighbour, Paul, who I fancy like mad, rather than do internet dating.

Out in the Builders Arms last night, a group of people randomly asked if I could have three wishes what would they be, whilst everyone wanted world peace, riches, beauty and fame, mine were pretty simple:

1. Nobel Prize
2. Husband
3. Lots of babies

I always get asked the same question, ‘why are you single’? What I want is very simple, and that’s just someone with a good heart. As I get older, I appreciate what’s most important in someone; looks fade with time and money can come and go, but to meet someone who’s amazingly kind is a rarity, one that I’m still searching for, but does he exist online, one has to hope…

“The ugly truth about beauty – Does height matter?”

The phrase ‘tall, dark and handsome’ has often been used to describe a woman’s ideal man. Most women I know put ‘tall’ as their greatest preference, which also included me until I ended up liking someone who wasn’t the ‘ideal’ 6ft. In fact, I recall reading a study years ago, that revealed taller men get more girls and have more children than shorter guys. Are we operating with the same selection as prehistoric times, and does it really matter?

Psychologists have argued that the female preference for taller men harkens back to prehistoric times, when women chose mates that could offer them the best protection and provide for their needs. Basically height is a variable that women find desirable – men who can protect them, and aren’t easily dominated by other men.

Scientists argue that tall men and petite women are favoured in evolutionary terms, which means that the two sexes are unlikely to ever end up the same height over the course of evolution. According to the study, a man of 6ft was more likely to have children than an average man of 5ft10. Conversely, women were most likely to be married and have children if they were below the average height of 5ft3 – that rules me out then 🙂

Apparently, a leading scientist says that shorter women have greater reproductive success partly because of there being delayed fertility among tall women. Also, taller women have a disadvantage in that there is a smaller pool to choose from, if they want a man to tower over them.

Strangely enough, I watched a documentary years ago on very tall women (6ft+) and their struggles with finding a mate. When I was younger, I’d always thought it would be amazing to be that tall. Watching the women was a real eye-opener, some were actually rather stunning, but finding a man of their own height or taller was a great difficulty for them. Though, some tall women don’t seem bothered by a man’s height, famous examples include; Claudia Schiffer, Penny Lancaster.

If you browse through women’s dating profiles, you’ll find that the majority have quite specific criteria with regards to a potential partner’s height. In fact, I was out with a female colleague the other night in the Builders Arms, and she pointed out a guy who she said was gorgeous but he was just too short for her. Conversely, most men seem not to regard it with such importance. On the rare occasion, where I’d see a couple who were both very tall, I’d think to myself that they looked rather striking.

Of the three men I’ve had relationships with, two were of average height (~5ft10), and so there wasn’t much of a difference. The third was taller (6ft2) and it was quite nice to cuddle up and feel protected. The only thing was that he was used to dating much shorter women, I was infact the tallest. So, his natural preference was for petite. Two of my female friends have contrasting opinions. One is 5ft2in, and wouldn’t date anyone below 6ft; the difference would be on the other extreme for me. Then my Chinese friend who’s only 5ft and sensibly says that most men would be taller than her, so it’s not a problem!

I’ve never really consciously thought about height before. However, years ago, my friend tried to play cupid and set me up with a friend of his. Apparently, he had all the qualities I was after, down-to-earth, geeky and attractive. We talked on the phone a couple of times, and he seemed genuinely nice. So, my friend arranged for him to come down to the pub for a couple of drinks one Friday night. I turned up; they were both there together with his bunch of friends and people I knew. I was slightly shy, saw him and instinctively thought he wasn’t for me without even spending time with him. One of my friends then wanted to go to a club so I joined them and left. The boys & girls made a comment that he wasn’t my type, he was a bit short, which was a little unfair but admit I thought that too.

Months later, my friend invited me to his summer barbeque. Embarrassingly, the guy he tried to pair me up with turned up. I felt soo rude about the whole situation that I tried to avoid him. However, at the end of the night, and having been persuaded to drink some alcohol (I’m not much of a drinker), I felt more relaxed. We started chatting and I was a lot more playful than usual, my mum was trying to call me, and he wanted to answer. So, I put his hand on my knee and instantly there was an attraction. It was nice to go out with someone that everyone else knows, instead of random strangers off the internet.

Initially, his height was a barrier but when I got to know him, I actually enjoyed spending time with him. Ok, so wearing heels was a bit of a problem, and the girls would ask isn’t he a little short. Honestly, he must be an exception, because, I was quite surprised how much I liked him.

Shame it didn’t last, but was height the barrier, not at all. Sometimes, we’re guilty of having an idea of what we’re looking for, whether that’s height, intelligence, attractiveness. When people say that they’d never thought they’d end up with someone, it’s true that sometimes if a person has everything else, what does it matter? Sophie Dahl & Jamie Cullum haven’t let their significant height difference or media ridicule come in the way of their relationship.

Remember that whilst height may make people more or less attractive, it may be the influence of our culture and not female choice that is responsible.

Science Museum Lates

The Science Museum hold adult only events once a month, and it’s free entry!

Each one has its own theme. The first one I went to was in November last year. I managed to drag along a few boys from work, only because the theme was ‘Sex & Science’ and not because they were geeky. It starts at 18:45 on a week day, so most people come directly from work. What struck me was the length of the queue (you would be advised to get there early), and the number of young people (most looked like they were in their twenties/thirties). Although the boys were anticipating something more sleezy, they weren’t too disappointed as we ended up participating in a speed dating event (you had to purchase a ticket) organised by Xfactordates. I admit that it was somewhat bizarre talking to random people for a couple of minutes, but all in all most people were doing it for fun and not for looking for Mr/Miss Right. There was also an opportunity to get your grove on in the silent disco, but sadly I missed that opportunity.

I’ve been to a few more since that night, and I’m looking forward to the next one: The Science Of You (Wednesday 30th June): The Science Museum describes what the night will hold:

To celebrate the opening of our new brain science and genetics gallery Who am I?, we’ll be bringing you an evening packed with the pleasures of the body and the brain. Be one of the first to discover what your voice sounds like as a member of the opposite sex or morph your face to see what you’ll look like as you age on some of our brand new interactive exhibits. You’ll also have the chance to encounter striking object displays, iconic artwork and find out much more about your own identity. Plus all our regulars will be available for you to enjoy… come along and show off some dance moves that would make your ancestors proud in our Silent Disco or see how good your memory really is in our famous Pub Quiz.

J Brand’s Love Story

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Although I wasn’t born in the 70’s, this has to be one of my favourite fashion eras – headbands, long hair, flares, flowers… In fact, I think I would have fitted in well as an Asian hippy 🙂

Whilst there are many jean brands on the market, I’ve found my favourite two (J Brand & Genetic Denim). I first came across J Brand two years ago, when Kate Moss was spotted in their Love Story style. I bought my first pair in Selfridges for around £180. Yes, it’s a lot of money to spend on a pair of jeans, but the quality and fit is superb. I had to get them taken up a bit as their 35in inseam is a tad too long for me, but great if you’re 6ft and can’t find jeans long enough.

Since purchasing them, I tend to wear them mostly in the summer months as you need high heels & good weather to make these work, whilst skinny jeans are more versatile. Luckily they’re still selling them on J Brand’s website & Shopbop; both offer international shipping. I’m contemplating getting another pair (this time in a smaller size, as they stretch a little) and in Dark Vintage rather than Ink – their light weight version would be perfect for summer months…

http://www.shopbop.com/lightweight-lovestory-jeans-j-brand/vp/v=1/845524441813043.htm

Born Rosie Sandals & Parcels2go

I love heels but most of the time that means painful feet, if like me you like walking everywhere… So, after reading reviews about this Rosie sandal by a company called Born, I immediately had to purchase them.

Only problem was that the online websites that stocked the sandal were in the US only, and they didn’t offer international shipping. I did however manage to get around this by purchasing off a site called zappos.com, and they shipped it to a warehouse address in Florida, that I paid £19.99 + VAT to rent for a year from a UK based company called Parcels2go.com

It sounds like a simple solution, being able to buy products from the States, get them shipped to this US address, which once received parcels2go will send you an invoice with the shipping cost to send the items to you in the UK.

I must say that I’ve never come across such awesome customer service than what I got off zappos.com, they upgraded my delivery to next day for free and you can call them 24/7, which means that you don’t have to worry about the time difference. The same cannot be said of parcels2go, eventhough I sent them an email a day before explaining that they should be expecting a delivery for me, in addition to a copy of the invoice and my customer reference number. Despite this a week after the shoes were delivered to the warehouse (with my reference number clearly labelled on the parcel), I heard nothing. So, I sent an email wondering what has happened to my parcel. Suddenly they replied and sent an invoice with the shipping costs. Once paid, I had no email confirming that the shoes had been shipped and were on their way, despite me sending them a couple of emails kindly asking them to confirm the status.

Now, I’m the most chilled out person normally, and although this renting a US address and getting parcels delivered to the UK is a genuine service (finally received them today), I felt that I had to chase them to get things moving, which I found frustrating at times, but they did eventually respond. However, all is now forgotten once my beautiful sandals came – thankfully they fit otherwise all that effort would have been for nothing!

Rimmel Nail Polish – Urban Princess

My nails (toes & fingers) are always painted, usually pink. I’ve bought a lot of nail polishes, but have found that the best quality ones are the most expensive (and that’s not because I’m some kind of brand snob). Favoured ones are Lancome, Chanel & Essie.

I’ve bought Rimmel before but have only used once and then it’s never been used again, until I recently purchased from their Pro range. The pink bottle (named Urban Princess) caught my eye. When I tried it on, I wasn’t expecting to be using this regularly. However, sometimes I can change my mind when persuaded, and the quality was superb, thick opaque barbie pink (not garish at all), their wide brush is the best for painting nails (better than Lancome or Chanel), the best bit is that it’s cheaper than what I’d normally spend 🙂

Pretty colour for displaying your toes in summer sandals…

Denbigh Terrace, W11

I pass Denbigh Terrace when I walk along Portobello Road. Very pretty street, pastel-coloured houses, and the pink rose bush on the corner caught my attention on a recent trip to Cath Kidston.