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Strike a pose…

17 Aug

Just a quicky this week lovely readers, as I’m in hard-core application mode. I am curious for your opinion on something  though…

One of my lovely wing-girls is dabbling in online dating. This is a profile pic she stumbled on:

Wing-girl wondered if the photo was meant to be ironic. I figured the only way we’d find out is if she went on a date with him. If this man in the mud is striking an ironic pose, Wing-girl could very well end up on the most hilarious date of her life. What’s your opinion?

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A single woman’s open letter to Dymocks, George Street

10 Aug

Dearest Dymocks,

As I’m sure you’re aware from my Booklover’s card, I’m a big fan. I love wandering through your shelves, rearranging them so friends’ books are cover-out not spine-out, looking for nerdy guys clutching copies of EM Forster’s work and then choosing something new to take home with me (typically a book, not a guy…). But you have betrayed me. And I wonder how, after all these years of devotion, you could be so cruel. And not only to me, but to single women all over Australia.

You see Dymocks, I’m hoping one day my name will appear on one of your shelves (cover-out of course). As part of this process, I had to review books that publishers will see as competition (although I know you know, Dymocks, that none of your books are anything like mine…). This meant I had to spend a few hours in part of you that I rarely if ever visit, that I avoid at all costs: the self-help section.

I don’t object to self-help in theory. It’s just that I remember too well the episode of Sex and the City, where Charlotte discovers the lack of humiliation online book-shopping offers. If this self required help, she would turn to Booktopia for privacy and free shipping. But the philosophy of manMap is the same when it comes to men and books: online research just isn’t as good as research done in person.

And so it was that I set aside a few hours on a Saturday to carefully examine the advice your shelves offered on the topic of Being Single and Wanting to not Be Single. With great trepidation I noticed that your shelves were arranged so almost everyone alighting your escalator would see me in the self-help section, notebook in hand as I scrutinised your current listings. Would it not be kinder to arrange your shelves at an angle, so men on the way to the history section wouldn’t spy the woman nervously leafing through Textbook Romance and Finding Your Soulmate?  

This was not the extent of your treachery. Coming to the end of your self-help shelves I discovered, with an intense feeling of betrayal, that you had positioned the Wedding Book section next to the Single Women’s section. Why would you do this? Why would you rub salt into the wounded heart that loves you?

And so Dymocks, I would like to suggest a change. You are in a position to help singletons all over the country for very little effort or cost. Please move your ghastly wedding books far far far away from the books for single women and replace them with the Sports section, which is always brimming with men. This simple act could make you the Choreographer of Love, something which will surely give you Great Joy and Satisfaction. If you cannot oblige for reasons this Single Woman can’t imagine, then at least consider switching Wedding Books for Cook Books. That way the forlorn singleton can be consoled with fantasies of Manu or Curtis Stone stirring a pot on her hot-plate. Or at the very least, 101 Ways to Cook with Chocolate might help her deal with The Science of Single.

Yours ever hopeful,
Lucie Stevens.

Frock philosophy

3 Aug

Once upon a Friday night in winter, three wing-girls set out for a round of mapping followed by dinner. For the sake of story-telling, let’s name the wing-girls according to hair type: Curly, Straight and Short. Mid-dinner, Curly was struck by a strong desire to dance to a cheesy covers band in the Rocks. The others were happy to oblige, even though Short wasn’t particular thrilled by the idea. She was dressed for warmth, not dancing. Lugging a huge coat around a beer-soaked pub wasn’t a particularly appealing idea.

When the trio arrived at the nominated pub, Short went straight to the bar. She was already feeling self-conscious and over-heated thanks to her 900 layers of clothing, so a nice cool vodka seemed to be the best solution. The pub was cramped with people in the mid-20s to early 50s. A strange assortment of office workers, tourists and ‘girls-night-out’ groups mingled on the dance floor, vying for space. It was exactly the kind of scene Short wasn’t into, but since her friends did nice things for her she realised it was a good opportunity to return the favour. She collected her drink, pushed away the negative chatter and slapped on her happy face.

Before long the wing-girls were on the dance floor. Straight was getting all kinds of attention without having to do much other than be her Lovely Self. This was interesting because Curly was also a very Lovely Self and after another vodka, Short was starting not to worry so much about looking out of place. Yet it was Straight alone that caught the men’s fancy. The bolder ones jostled around trying to get a better position of the floor to dance with her and the not so bold ones gave her little sideways glances of appreciation.

Being an avid student of human nature (ie. someone who enjoys staring at people), Short found this fascinating. To her, Curly and Straight were both equally attractive and charming. And yet Straight was chalking up all the points. What was going on? And then Short realised. It was all about outfits.manMap recommends avoiding convent wear

Short herself wasn’t getting any attention from the guys. She was dressed like she was being sent to a convent in Austria: shapeless shift dress over jeans and a skivvy, with ballet flats designed to withstand the walk home from the station. Nothing about her outfit said, “Hello Man, I think you’d like to talk to me because I’m a woman.” Curly was nicely dressed in a feminine little top and jeans but, being thin-blooded like Short, she was wearing a coat. Yes it was a lovely, fitted red coat, but it was still a coat. On a dance floor. It said to the guys, “I’m not even taking my coat off so don’t bother talking to me.” Straight on the other hand was dressed in her casual Friday work-wear: jeans, heels and a cami under one of those light cardi-top arrangements. She had enough flesh showing to remind men she was a woman but not enough to make her trampy like a lot of other women in the pub. And the men couldn’t get enough of it.

So the moral of the story is this: make sure you wear what’s appropriate for the venue you’re going to. If you’ve never been there before, do a bit of research. Look at the website or ask someone who’s been before. Over-dressing is just as dangerous as under-dressing. You don’t want to turn up at the Old Fitz or Cricketer’s dressed like you should be at Marble Bar. Make sure your clothes are pitched to the right market so you feel comfortable and confident when you get there. That way you’re more likely to get the kind of attention you’re hoping for.

The ‘other’ Great Male Survey

27 Jul

Well it seems I’m not the only one out there asking guys questions about values, beliefs and goals. Ask Men, in conjunction with Cosmopolitan, has just released its 2011 Great Male Survey. Here are some of my highlights about Aussie guys:

  • 68% believe in marriage and think it’s worth preserving
  • only 22% don’t think about whether or not a new girlfriend has ‘wife’ potential
  • a sense of loyalty was seen as a more important quality than a sense of humour or a caring/nurturing attitude. Intelligence was seen as the least important quality of the four mentioned here.
  • almost half the guys surveyed were single (still hunting the stats on how many guys were surveyed but still, it’s a good sign!).
  • most thought they should pay for dates until the relationship was established.
  • only 12% had successfully internet dated. Most of them don’t use the internet to date.
  • 85% said they won’t care if they were in a relationship with a woman who made more money than them.
  • only 19% said they tried to be romantic most of the time, but the bulk of men tried to be romantic fairly regularly. Three out of four guys said that feeling close to their partner was what motivated them to be romantic.
  • 46% of guys thought dating someone from their office was  a bad idea.  So ladies, what we need to remember to do, is to introduce all our single work colleagues to our single wing-girls. That way we can help everyone out!
  • Given the choice of being Superman, Batman, Iron Man, Wolverine, or Spider-Man, the most popular superhero was Superman. I was surprised about this. I thought all Batman’s gadgets would get him the votes.

I’m curious to know whether guys and girls are on the same page with superhero fantasies. Given the choice, who would you date?

Leave a comment if there’s another superhero that takes your fancy (He-Man anyone??).

When the working day is done…

5 Jul

When you’re a 30-something singleton, it’s easy to become despondent, especially during winter. You see the 20-somethings trotting around on Friday nights in their short dresses and non-bulky coats, trying to keep warm as they wait for taxis to whisk them off to a club you have no desire to visit. And you think,

I can’t be bothered. It’s freezing. I don’t want to risk pneumonia for the sake of exposing flesh.

By the time we’ve hit our 30s, many of us are dealing with more responsibility, and often more stress, at work. If you’ve had a busy workday, you’ll probably feel like a quiet, cosy night with a few friends instead of big night out involving a effort on your part. The problem is though, you can end up missing out on a bit of fun and silliness.

I’m the first to admit I’m guilty of Crimes Against Fun and Silliness. Between a busy publishing job, survey guys, blogging, finishing a novel and seeing family and friends, frivolity is frequently de-prioritised. But I’ve noticed that a night of lighthearted fun often gives me a much needed mood-boost. Even if it involves a late night, I usually have a lot more energy for my many schemes the next day. And I think I’ve finally realised why this is.

Every now and then single ladies need a bit of obligation-free flirting, just to remind them that they’re women. Even if you know nothing is going to eventuate for whatever reason, a bit of male attention can really warm up a cold winter night. I saw this happen a few weeks ago when I grabbed a mid-week drink in the city with three wing-girls. Two of them were well into their second bottle when I arrived. Sitting with them was a good-looking guy who they’d started chatting to and had invited to join them. There was no way that anything was going to happen with this guy. He was nice, funny, cute and friendly. But he was also a good decade younger than us and had made mention of his girlfriend  (in fact he was running late to meet her…clearly not great boyfriend material!). And even though the conversation didn’t have a particularly strong sexual undercurrent, we all enjoyed a bit of a casual flirt. When we finally went our separate ways, we did so with big grins.

So I thought I’d share with you a few places I’ve mapped that are perfect if you’re looking to meet guys without the pressure of a hardcore meat-market vibe.

The Monkey Bar, Balmain 

Percentage of surveyed men who were single: 69%
Percentage of surveyed men in a relationship who have single friends: 100%
Prime time: Friday and Saturday nights
Crowd: Straight, fashionable, crowd-conscious guys who are ready to flirt.
How many wing-girls you should take: As many as you like but don’t create an intimidating crowd.
What to wear: Glam casual
Top tip: Catch the post-work crowd on Friday then stay for the later-comers. 

The Monkey Bar is true to its name. It’s definitely a bar, not a pub and for singles, it’s a playground. Although it’s known as a place to pick up, don’t be put off. The men are friendly, fun and usually not sleazy. The light-hearted mood makes it perfect for flirting. Catch the locals after work on a Friday, then stay for a dance. As the music gets louder, more and more non-locals will join you on the dance floor. Be careful not to get tucked away upstairs or at the short end of the bar. Just like in real estate, location counts!

 Manography

Ages of single men:      
20-30: 27%
31-40: 27%
41+: 46%

Professions: Corporate strategy, engineering, trade, customer service, entertainment, finance, IT, science and technology
Interests and hobbies: sport socialising, travel, water sports and music   
Men who socialise here also like hanging out at: The London (Balmain)   

The Marlborough Hotel, Newtown

Percentage of surveyed men who were single: 77%
Percentage of surveyed men in a relationship who have single friends: 100%
Prime time: Friday and Saturday nights
Crowd: Blokey, live music lovers. Younger crowd upstairs. Student nights during the week.
How many wing-girls you should take: As many as you like. The space is big enough for all your friends.
What to wear: Casual downstairs, sexy casual upstairs
Top tip: Chat to guys before the music starts so you’ve got a reason to dance with them during the set. 

The Marly is layered with possibilities. At street level, the boys are ready to appreciate live music over a beer. It might be too loud for conversation but bonding over a favourite song is a great way to make new friends. Venture upstairs to the Level One cocktail bar for more sophistication. If someone takes your fancy, lead the way downstairs to The Cellar where the lighting’s low and the leather couches are perfect for getting better acquainted. Check the website for events like State of Origin screenings. They’re sure to bring in the boys!

Manography

Ages of single men:      
<20: 10%
20-30: 50%
31-40: 40% 

Professions: Sports industry, media defence, engineering, finance, IT, community services
Interests and hobbies: Socialising, sport, drinking, sex, watching tv              
Men who socialise here also like hanging out at: Clock Hotel, AB Hotel

On the other side of the Bridge, try The Oaks in Neutral Bay. I’m yet to map there but every time I’ve been we’ve met heaps of nice guys, particularly playing pool.

If you’re not in the mood to go out on a cold night, you might prefer to stay in and check out this fab website I stumbled on: Men In This Town. It’s a fashion-focused journal of men in Sydney. A lot of the shots are candid, which I think makes them fascinating. Enjoy!

A man drought state of mind

21 Jun

manMap's in a man drought state of mindMan drought. A phrase that twists many a female heart. Like a plague of locusts, it buzzes in the mind of the singleton as she preps for a night out. It haunts her as she strains her eyes across the seemingly man-less landscape of her work. Like a stone in her shoe it digs into her with every step as she goes about her life, making her hesitate when she tries to be positive and assertive. And in moments of hope, she hears it hiss:

“He’s gotta be taken.”

“He won’t like someone like you.”

“He must be gay.”

“He’s probably looking at the model-esque woman over there.”

“He won’t make an effort because he knows he’s in demand.”

A shamefully long time ago (sorry – busy chores!) our WWWtK question was:

Do you make less effort to chat with women because there are so many in Sydney that it’s now up to the women to make the effort?

Well ladies, I asked. I asked tradies. I asked suits. I asked entrepreneurs. I asked guys in the east, in the city, in the inner city. I asked guys in their 20s and guys in their 40s. I asked sporty guys and guys who love their pets and guys who are creative. And history was made. This is the first occasion where all agreed. And what did they agree on?

Men don’t think about the man drought. In fact, lots of them didn’t even know there was a man drought in Sydney until I asked them our question. Many of them were under the impression that there was a woman drought. Guys don’t feel that women should approach them because there are more of us than them. As one guy said, “It doesn’t come into it.”

If a guy likes the look of you and he’s got grit, he’ll speak to you. If he doesn’t, it’s not that he thinks you should make the effort, or even than he doesn’t find you attractive. It’s often a matter of him not being confident enough (possibly because he’s tried before and had his head promptly bitten off) or much like you, he thinks you’re probably taken or not interested.

So it seems, lovely readers, that while the man drought might be a statistical reality, more than anything, it’s a state of mind stirred up by regular appearances in the media. Between magazine and newspaper articles, reality tv shows and ads for online dating services, we’ve been conditioned into a man drought state of mind.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to break your personal drought. Squish that buzzing locust into the footpath and give the guys out there a little encouragement. In not time at all, you’ll realise it’s raining men.

Love in the time of Facebook

14 Jun

manMap ponder love and FacebookA while ago, I caused a romantic catastrophe. One of my wing-girls decided she’d try online dating, via Facebook’s Zoosk. Her Facebook profile reflected her busy social life, vibrant personality and her beautiful face. I had no doubt she’d be overwhelmed with admirers.

A few days passed and Wing-girl only had a couple of nibbles, all from men way too old for her. When a transsexual contacted her, she raised the alarm. We couldn’t understand what was going on. And why were they all commenting on how amazing she looked for her age?

Then we joined the dots. According to Wing-girl’s profile, she was well into her 60s, 30+ years older than she really is. And this was my doing. Entirely. I’d been telling my friends not to put their real ages online in case thieves tiptoed over their profiles and pinched their identities. Wing-girl had faithfully followed my advice and hadn’t even though about it when she opened herself to the world of Facebook dating. Mortified, she closed her dating profile and decided to seek love in more traditional places, like the pub.

One night, at a local pub, she bumped into a guy she’d met years before. They enjoyed chatting, had a few laughs and Wing-girl told the guy to look her up on Facebook, thinking he probably won’t. But a few days later, there was his Friend Request. He’d searched through over 300 women with the same name to find her. To me this was a modern Cinderella story, only with Facebook instead of a glass slipper.

“You’re meeting up with him, right?” I asked.

“I invited him to Sunday drinks,” she said. I shook my head. I thought he deserved more than group drinks after his efforts searching. But maybe Wing-girl was right. Facebook has turned most of us into ‘friend-sluts’. We’ll friend almost anyone, even if it’s just to keep tabs on them. Was the act of clicking ‘Request Friend’ enough to indicate a guy’s interest? We’ve downgraded the requirements needed to share daily activities, photos and even our location with people we don’t really know. And yet the general buzz across the city indicates we’ve upgraded the standards needed for a date.

Is it possible that Facebook is making us narrow-minded when it comes to meeting men? I love that moment in The Social Network when Zuckerberg discovers Facebook’s missing ingredient: the relationship status feature. I’ve been saying for years that a badge system would really help society. If we all wore badges indicating our availability and sexual preference, there’d be far less confusion over what was on offer. To a degree, Facebook has solved this. But it’s also introduced a new level of complexity: online stalking.

When Wing-girl told me Mr Pub had found her on Facebook, we logged on straight away to examine his profile and photos. And that raised questions. Who was that girl he had his arm around? Did he spend every weekend drinking himself into oblivion, or was it just that he only ever took photos when he was drunk? What did his taste in music say about him as a person? And what did that strange comment on his wall actually mean? Access to all this information distracted us from the fact that he and Wing-girl had enjoyed seeing each other, had both remembered each other from years before and that he had taken the time to track her down.

Depending on which version you read, the Prince fell for Cinderella after just one night. When she fled so he wouldn’t uncover the reality of her situation, he searched for her, motivated only by what had passed between them. Had the brothers Grimm written Facebook into the story and sat the Prince at a computer to search rather than sending him out in a carriage, he may have recognised the cinder-smeared face and discovered that the object of his desire was a commoner. Would he have cared? Would his experience with her at the ball have carried more weight than what Facebook told him about her? What do you think?

In our online world we can pick and choose men to date the same way we can pick and choose cosmetics and clothing. Is this helping us connect with men, or is it turning romance into a fairy tale?

Poll-dance

31 May

Hello lovely readers,

This week I’m a tad tight on time so instead of the usual dose of shenanigans, I thought a bit of a poll-dance might warm everyone up during our rainy Winter week. So here we go:

Poll

Dance

How far would you go for love?

24 May

manMap ponders changeThis week’s post is a modern-day fairy tale.

Once upon a time there were three less-than-happy singletons. All in their 30s, they often wondered if a helpful fairy godmother/online dating service would deliver to them a man they could call their own. But day and night and month and year passed, and despite their loveliness and best efforts, no such man appeared.

Weary of singledom, these brave crusaders decided things needed to change, things about themselves. It wasn’t that any of them where heinous vipers with disturbing hobbies that might turn a man off (or an undesirable man on…). They’d been told by friends that they’d make delightful girlfriends, and in quieter moments they themselves knew this was true. They were just in a Large Single Rut. They’d hoped a Lovely Man would wander by their Rut, bend over to inspect it more closely, smile and then lift them from the Rut with warm, strong arms. But when the wing-girls realised this was not to be, they decided they’d have to de-Rut themselves.

And so, in their own ways, they made little changes. One took up golf and discovered she loved it. One changed the way she dressed and was suddenly bubbling with confidence. And the last wing-girl decided to ignore her insecurities and acknowledge that she was worthy of a relationship.

Although these changes might seem a bit simple/Oprah-esque, they held their own set of fears. The wing-girls had to courageously go forth, risking humiliation, exposure and potential wardrobe malfunction. And by the time our little planet had passed once around the sun, they were all paired with their own Mr Lovely and set to live happily ever after.

These wing-girls are a huge inspiration to me (sorry for reverting to the Oprah-esque). They decided to be open to change and it made them happier. Their Mr Lovelies were a bonus. A big one. But when The farmer wants a wife fills the dinnertime TV slot, I’m always a little ambivalent. Joining a golf club is one thing. Moving to rural WA is another.

This past season I had an added interest in TFWAW, purely for reasons of vanity. I liked seeing the name Lucie on the screen. I never had personalised mugs or novelty number plates as a child. The only thing my mum could ever find was The tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, starring a little girl obsessed with her handkerchief. So when Lucie was chosen for the farm stay with Farmer Charles, I was excited. After all, we had a lot in common: we’ll both spend a lifetime saying ‘with an ie’, we’re both inner city girls, we’re both blessed with long, thick, gently curled hair (ok, I have to wear a wig for that last one). I was cheering for her but I couldn’t help thinking, ‘Does this Lucie really, really, really want to leave her delightful inner city apartment, where she has access to everything, to live in the Sticklands?’ Sure, she might not have a boyfriend, but there are over 300,000 single men in Sydney. Could she really be content with such a massive sea change when love was just a possibility and not a certainty?

Poor Lucie handled her rejection gracefully, especially considering she was on national television. I couldn’t stop myself wondering if she felt the teeniest bit relieved as she drove back to the city along those long country roads. Sure, she was heart-broken but she was returning to her habitat. And yet there were lots of city/suburban girls like her competing for the heart of a farmer.

So I wanted to put it out there: how much change would you be willing to make in the hope of attaining love? I’m not talking about after you’ve met someone you think might be your Mr Lovely. I’m taking about the changes you’re willing to make on the way to meeting him. Would you change your lifestyle, country, hobbies, social circle, profession? Would you hope that he’d be willing to change parts of his life too?

 And for all of you who would like a farmer without the tv drama, check out Thank goodness he’s a country boy. For $620 you’ll get a weekend in the country, complete with pampering sessions and dinner with the country’s finest off-screen single men.

Thank you to my mum for the clipping about Thank goodness he’s a country boy … and for Mrs Tiggy-Winkle.

Why we won’t talk to men

28 Apr

The results of the poll “What stops you from talking to guys you don’t know?” are in.

The top three responses were:

  • I figure if men like the look of me, they’ll come to me.
  • I don’t feel confident in general.
  • I get nervous and don’t know what to say.

This is a sad state of affairs, ladies. We really are our own worst enemies.

The most popular excuse I figure if men like the look of me, they’ll come to me is no great surprise. I have to say though, if there’s one thing surveying has taught me, it’s that guys in Sydney won’t come to you. Even if they like the look of you. Even if they think you’re the woman of their dreams. They won’t approach you because they think:

  1. You might bite their head off/snub them in public like some evil cow once did.
  2. You are already in a relationship.
  3. Ironically, that if you like the look of them, you’ll go and speak to them.

It’s all about the social stalemate ladies, and it’s up to the individual woman to break it.

The second and third reasons are more tricky. But as someone who’s naturally shy with guys (yes I’m sure this will surprise a few of you) I can promise you that practice does help. The first time I walked into a pub to do surveys I went straight to the bathroom and hid there for half an hour. Now I survey without hesitation.

Practise talking to guys you don’t know when you’re out. Set yourself achievable social goals. Don’t say to yourself, “Tonight I must go out and meet the love of my life,” or even, “Tonight I must flirt with someone.” Instead think, “Tonight I will go out and talk to one guy I don’t know,” or even, “Tonight I will smile at a stranger.” Every little achievement will boost your confidence so that when the right guy comes along, you won’t think twice about approaching him (and thereby overcoming excuse Number 1!). Good luck!