Does anyone find themselves wondering why a partner cheats?

Does anyone else find themselves wondering why a partner cheats and then blaming themselves? The last FOUR bf's I've had all cheated and I am now wondering if it's my fault?

Whenever a relationship ends you find yourself wondering, was it me? My marriage has been over for some time and I still find myself getting distracted from the food shop because I'm analysing the things I said and the decisions I made, wondering if I'm living out the real-life Sliding Doors and not sure if this is the shitty life or the good one. It's natural, not always useful, but natural. We can learn from all our experiences but especially the negative ones and the end of a relationship is a good time to consider what, if anything, we would do differently. That being said, when it comes to cheating, I'm pretty hard line - the fault lies with the cheater and never the cheated. Your exes might have tried to convince you otherwise but cheaters are very often liars, so I'd probably disregard what they had to say. 

It's not you it's me is a cliche because it's true. When a person cheats it's about their choices, their insecurities, their fears - nothing you would have done could justify it. I know the things you have running through your mind because I've thought them too - I wasn't fun enough, I wasn't pretty enough. None of it is true but what if it was? That would be like firebombing your local newsagents because they gave you the wrong change. 

I can't imagine your friends and family have told you anything different, so I thought I'd try and back up my stance with some cold hard facts. Research by the organisation Trustify reveals that 55% of men are willing to admit to cheating. Let's look at that. More than half and that's the men who are willing to come clean. The odds are not in your favour. The study also examined the reasons why people cheat and to be honest, I got bored. All the reasons boiled down to one thing - they wanted escape. And who doesn't feel like that sometimes? We all feel lost or trapped or confused from time to time and some people respond to that by betraying people they love. Sadly that's life and bad luck. 

That being said four partners in a row is very bad luck and whilst I hope I've made clear that I want you to absolve yourself of any responsibility for the cheating you have experienced, I'm wondering if it's a coincidence that you've found yourself with a string of cheaters? You see, the kind of men who cheat feed on one thing - insecurity; they can smell it like sharks smell blood. A woman who doesn't completely love herself will let the little things slide, those small indiscretions that hint at the greater disrespect to come; she'll be willing to put in the other eighty when she's only getting twenty percent; she'll be accepting, so very accepting, that the wrong man will take advantage of that and she'll persevere with the wrong man because she can't quite believe that the right man is waiting around the corner. If any of this sounds familiar, I urge you to take a break before your next relationship and the only love affair you should be having right now is with yourself. 

3 Little Buttons

Confessions of a New Mummy

Fear is a f***boy

Over the weekend I spoke at Wildfire Women and I'm still overflowing with sisterly love. Head over to the community if you want some of your own. Here is an abridged version of the talk I gave, Fear is a f**kboy.


Fear is too petty to let get in the way of your goals. Fear is not valuable enough to rob you of joy. You need to ghost fear because fear is a f**kboy. 

For the uninitiated, I'll explain what a f**boy is. There's these men and they have a goal and they sense that if they offer enough affection and affirmation they will reach that goal and if they cannot offer this genuinely, they will lie. To be clear the goal is to get their leg over and after they achieve this, they run and hide like a child. 

F**k: The act of false intimacy 
Boy: Acknowledgement of the pre-adolescent behaviour that follows. 

I was unlucky enough to encounter some of these specimens when I started dating a couple of years ago but very quickly eliminated them from my rotation because they didn't feed me spiritually or practically (They don't buy dinner.) Similarly, I feel that fear has outgrown its usefulness. It used to serve the practical purpose of protecting us from actual physical harm; you're not going to get eaten on the high street, so we need to stop being scared. 

Some of you may be thinking, fear is my friend, fear motivates me - that's some f**kboy shit right there. That's fear saying, you need me, you're better with me, don't give up on me. But make no mistakes, fear will trash your opportunities and when you're home watching XFactor, scraping the cream out of Bourbons, it's nowhere to be seen. You're left with his buddies regret, disappointment and shame. 

How is fear like a f**kboy? 
1) It's seductive. It offers support and protection but it's all lies
2) It doesn't care what you want. It only thinks about feeding itself. It doesn't give a toss that you want to make more money or have a better relationship or ask for help. 
3) Your friends know fear is no good for you. They'll tell you not to listen to it, that you can achieve your goals but later when you're alone together, fear will tell you they're all lying. 
4) It's shameless. It will mess up your life and come right back to your door like nothing happened. 

How to block fear's number
1) Fear crumbles under scrutiny. Sit and have a face to face with your fear; ask it how it's last relationship ended. You'll soon learn it's not the one for you. 
2) Fear hates openness. It wants you to have a seedy, secret  little relationship. Talk about your fear with those you trust and it will lose its power
3) Don't follow fear on social media. Have a detox from accounts and people who reinforce your negative beliefs. 
4) Set fear small tests. Before you let fear mess up your big goals, set it small challenges. It will give you practice for pushing it aside when you need to. 

I know this because over the last couple of years, I've tried to kick fear to the curb. When I started my novel fear said, you can't write. And I deleted fears email. When I applied for WriteNow fear said, everyone will laugh. And I erased fears voicemail. When I was offered a publishing contract fear said, who do you think you are? And I said, piss off fear. 

Fear still bells me. Usually in the middle of the night and I answer because I'm sleepy and it calls from a withheld number. I listen for a minute and then take a deep breath and say, 'Fear, you need to stop calling me. I'm seeing hope now and it's getting serious.' 

3 Little Buttons

Is it possible to fall in love more than once?

What is love? (Baby don't hurt me.) One person's love is another's tolerance; yet another's infatuation. I remember those girls that got engaged in sixth form college and were utterly convinced, despite all evidence to the contrary, that they had succeeded in finding the love of their life and that as luck would have it he attended the boys school down the road. When I was sixteen I had the soul of a wizened, cynical divorcee and silently mocked their life plans. Now that I am a wizened, cynical divorcee I think, who am I to judge? 

Many people argue that until you meet THE ONE, that great love, anything before is practice; a kind of love proxy as you bide your time waiting for the real thing but honestly I think all love, even the so called real thing, is simply an evolutionary advantage that stops society unravelling into a mass of writhing bodies. This thing called love is a psychological cage of our own making and that's not a bad thing. On some level we all desire to be contained; love keeps us safe. And luckily I think we can have an infinite number of cages, such is the capacity for love. Ask anyone with more than one child if they have enough to go around - the heart just expands like a balloon. But I don't think you mean bog standard, I'd sacrifice my life for you love, you mean romantic, often sexual love - the good stuff. 

Can this kind of love occur more than once? In my opinion, yes but not always in exactly the same way. Think about eating the same meal every day for a week, the experience wouldn't ever be exactly the same. Some days you'd overcook the veg; on others you might be famished and this would make the meal more satisfying. The food is the same but you are different. This ties in with a theory I've heard that everyone gets three great loves. The first is that crazy, passionate, infatuation based one, usually with a really painful ending. The second is a love that teaches you about yourself and what you need from a partner and the third is a meeting of two people who understand themselves and each other and have learned patience and acceptance from the previous two relationships. What in life do you get right on the first try? Nothing worth having. So, is it possible to fall in love more than once? Perhaps not but I urge you to try. 

3 Little Buttons
Confessions of a New Mummy
Cuddle Fairy

How do you get someone to open up?

Thanks to everyone who submitted an entry to my giveaway! And thanks for your queries about everything lurve and relationships. In this post we're gonna talk about getting someone to open up, something I know a great deal about because I have often found myself in relationships with people who have far less capacity to express themselves emotionally than myself and by that I mean that I am a woman who has been in relationships with men. I'm kidding, I'm kidding* but it is true that I've found myself frustrated by what I've seen as my partner shutting themselves off from me emotionally and I've learned from it. So, here are some tips I hope to take into the future. 

1. Make sure what you're looking for exists
Here's a typical conversation with my ex: 

Me: What you thinking? 
Him: Nothing
Me (Shifting closer): No really tell me what you're thinking?
Him (Big sigh): I was thinking about whether snails have penises

And despite this I still insisted on prodding, prodding, prodding - searching for the emotional depths I was certain he was keeping hidden from me. When I started dating a couple of years ago, I did a lot of reading about relationships and discovered the five love languages. These are - words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time and physical touch. When we say we want someone to open up we often mean, TELL ME I'M GREAT! SAY HOW MUCH YOU LOVE ME! And maybe your partner is telling you this in other ways? Maybe they're showing you love by cooking dinner every night and you're overlooking this because you haven't had a book of sonnets written for you. 

2. Take into account individual limitations
People can only work with what they have. If someone tells you they're an open book and six months later you still don't know their home address, you don't want to try and get more out of them, you need to get the hell out the relationship. This isn't usually the case. A person who struggles to express themselves emotionally will most likely be up front about it; so you need to judge them on their effort and not their output. I'd tell a stranger at a bus stop about my post birth bleeding, getting me to open up is not that big a deal. If someone who finds it difficult gives you something, anything - recognise that and thank them. 

3. Approach them like a horse
A friend once told me that you have to approach a man like a horse. If you come at them head on they'll become threatened and flee,  you have to come at them from the side. Don't sit your partner down and fire questions at them, everyone is more open when they're relaxed and an interrogation is rarely relaxing. Think about those sideways situation - driving, walking, before you fall asleep at night or if even that's too much try text messages, at least then you get to keep the evidence.

4. You're not asking questions because you're afraid of the answer.
If you think your partner isn't opening up it's because there's things you need to know - do they love me? Are they happy? Are they going to watch the next episode of 'Suits' without me? When you're lost you ask someone for directions, so why not ask your loved one to point you in the right direction? Is it because you're afraid of what answers you might receive and frustrated ignorance is bliss? If you want someone to open up, you better be prepared to be open with yourself first. 

*I'm not kidding

What My Fridge Says
My Random Musings

Ten things about Martha Ross (Win a signed copy!)

I started this blog as a place to offer advice to parents. The internet is full of judgement and I wanted to create a space to let mothers and fathers know they were doing OK. My motivation was mainly sparing my friends from my unsolicited opinions but also, with over a decade working with families, I knew I had learned a lot. Over the past few years, I’ve ended a marriage, thrown myself into the dating world and learned a lot about love. I have many, many thoughts on love. So many thoughts that I wrote a book about it.

My novel, The Reinvention of Martha Ross, was published by Transworld last month and charts the messy weeks after Martha ends her marriage. Martha decides to look for love and creates a ten-point list of the qualities she wants in her ideal man, so I thought I’d share ten reasons why you might want to read her story.

1. Martha’s list was inspired by my own. Encouraged by my friend and love guru Nina, I put my romance goals on paper before I re-entered the dark waters of the dating pool. A little of my list made its way on to Martha’s but exactly what, I’ll never tell.

2. The story is set in Brighton, a beautiful place to fall in love. Also, a great place to get drunk and make a show of yourself – there’s a lot of that in there too.

3. Martha’s life becomes pretty chaotic and many of the scenes were inspired by true events. One of Martha’s mishaps is borrowed directly from my life and it was as awkward as it reads.

  4. My journey as an author began when I applied for Penguin Random House's WriteNow scheme, a process designed to promote the writing of underrepresented writers. The project created an online fracas when Lionel Shriver implied that diversity could lead to a decrease in quality – I’ll let you be the judge.

5. Martha is a mother but motherhood isn’t as dreamy as she thought it would be. It was scary to write about some of the truths of parenting.

6. The book is dedicated to my ex-husband who was super supportive about the fact that I was writing a novel about a divorce. That being said he has no plans to read it.

 7. The first item on Martha’s list is red hair and blue eyes. After finishing the novel, I met my current boyfriend, a man with red hair and blue eyes. He says he's not concerned about my life imitating art but he’s very keen to know the subject of my next novel.

8. The first version of the book didn’t include the final chapter and it’s totally cool if you want to stop there.

9.  Bestselling author Jane Fallon described the book as one of the best and funniest debuts she’s read in a long time and Sara Lawrence for the Daily Mail described it as beautifully written and emotionally intelligent.

10. The true love story is the one Martha has with her friends. Martha may be focused on finding a man but the story is a celebration of sisterhood.

If you’ve got this far and you think you might like to read Martha’s story, this is your opportunity to win a signed copy; it’s also my opportunity to spout more of my thoughts on love. To enter, leave a question about love or relationships in the comments. Two winners will be chosen in two weeks. Your question can be about breaking up or making up, dating or divorce; make it personal or philosophical – there are no rules when it comes to love.

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Pink Pear Bear

What action should I take when a father refuses to attend mediation?

I am exhausted! I am up in the night! I am single mum! Yes, I'm a superhero and my super power is co parenting. My son has two homes but both his parents have one goal - to raise a reasonably healthy, relatively happy human. Not much else matters. We achieve this through trust, respect and a lot of Whatsapp messages. In fact I couldn't be a co parenting hero without my trusty sidekick, so I can't say I have any experience of trying to raise a child with an asswipe (which in my opinion someone who refuses to go to mediation is) but asswipes in general? I've met plenty and I've found they can all be lumped into one airtight box.

At the outset I'd like to state I have absolutely no legal training. I haven't even done jury duty so this post isn't about legalities, it's about emotions, which are much scarier.

Question one: What do you have to gain? Do you really have to do this? If this man doesn't want to come to mediation what makes you think that he will agree to any decisions that come out of the process? If you are in a situation that inconveniences you but works for your child/children, think about sucking it up. Focus your energies on the things in your life that you can change. Can you enlist more help from friends or family? Can you change your working life to include more flexibility? One of the best (and hardest) lessons of single parenting is learning to do it all yourself.

Question two: What are the asswipe's motivations? It's one of three things...
1. He's not ready for it to be over. Mediation can symbolise a pretty hefty nail in the coffin of a relationship. If your ex is still harbouring fantasies of a reconciliation he may be avoiding the shits got realness of the mediation session. Women especially can be so polite in their interactions that they send mixed signals. Make sure you aren't giving him any hope by being too vague in your communications - don't be too supportive, too quick to listen to his problems or ever (ever) indulge in the way too easy sex with the ex. If necessary invent a significant other to bring home the 'I've moved on' message. 
2. He's petty AF. The only way to deal with a petty person is to hit them where it hurts - their wallet. Don't bother explaining the rational, mature reasons for mediation just tell him you're going down the legal route. As soon as he finds out how much a solicitor charges to pick up a phone he'll be begging for mediation. 
3. He's controlling. You'll probably know if this is the case because it will be something you've had to live through. In this case, you'll need to let him think it's his idea. I would never recommend being manipulative but don't do anything that makes his life as a parent easier, if pick up's at six arrive on the dot and not a second before. Communicate important information by email and ask him to refer to your messages if he has questions - control what you can control and if he wants your flexibility he may decide that mediation is the route to use. 

Ultimately you can't make someone do anything they don't want to do. Refusing to attend could have negative consequences for your ex; comfort yourself with the knowledge that you're willing to do the right thing for your child. Soon enough your ex will learn that you're not the bitch, karma is. 

How to Set and Reach Your Savings Goals

Setting specific goals is a great way to make sure that you're more focused on your spending and savings habits. When you have a specific goal in mind, it's easier to stay motivated when times get tough than if you're just distributing money into a bank account.

If you're just throwing your money into a current account and trying your hardest not to spend it, sometimes it can be tempting to simply withdraw that money and tell yourself that you're going to pay it back. On the other hand, if you know that every penny in your account has a purpose, you'll be less likely to use cash for different reasons. Here are a few tips to help you set and reach the right savings goals.

Choose a Reason for Saving Money

The first thing you need to do is figure out what you're saving money for. Though the simple purpose of trying to be more careful with your cash can be motivating enough for some people, others need a more short-term goal, like going on a family holiday, or replacing a kitchen.
If you're planning on saving as a couple or family, make sure that you sit down with the other people involved in your household to discuss the goals that will appeal most to all of you. Everyone needs to be committed to the same targets, otherwise your whole budget can dissolve into chaos. However, it is possible to have more than one goal, particularly if you have both long-term and short-term targets. 

Create Timelines for your Goals

When you've decided what you want to save for, and how much you need to save to reach your goals, it's time to start adding more depth to your saving strategy. Providing yourself with a timeline that tells you when you want to achieve your goals should help to give you additional motivation when you're struggling to accomplish your aims. Some timelines might be short-term, such as when you want to go on holiday next year, whereas others might be more vague. For instance, you might just want to save as much cash as you can before you reach retirement.
Although it might be impossible to give a solid end date to every goal, you should at least try to set benchmarks and milestone dates in place that will help to let you know whether you're moving in the right direction, at the right pace. For instance, you might decide that you want to have about £20,000 in your retirement account by the time you reach 30.

Look for Savings Money in your Monthly Budget

With the details of your savings goals laid out, you'll need to start looking for the money you need in your budget. Sometimes, it can feel practically impossible to find extra money for savings when you're struggling to make ends meet. However, the good news is that there are plenty of ways to cut costs that you may not have thought about yet. For instance, you can look into switching your providers for gas and electricity to a vendor with a better deal.
Alternatively, you can search for places where you can cut down your spending. For instance, you might be able to reduce the amount you spend on restaurant meals if you commit to eating at home more often and cooking your own food. You could also cut costs by getting rid of subscriptions you don't use - like gym memberships that sit in a drawer at home, gathering dust.

Get the Right Savings Tools

Finally, you'll need to make sure that you have the right resources to help with your savings strategy. For instance, you can download budgeting apps onto your phone that help you to track your spending habits and figure out where you're having the most trouble with your money. At the same time, it helps to make sure that you have the right account to make the most out of your money at the bank.
If you're thinking of saving money for a period of longer than 5 years, then you might consider looking at mutual funds, or you can search for a savings account with a high rate of return. Although interest rates on savings accounts aren't great right now, they can give you more than you would get by simply placing your money into a current account.
What's more, using a separate account for your savings means that you'll be less tempted to tap into the money you save, because you won't see it on your statement every month.

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