Do you think your partner can be your best friend?

So you want to call your partner your best friend? Why not? As the great philosopher Sheryl Crow once said, 'If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad.' When you really think about it what are you saying? You're dating someone you can be yourself with; someone who makes you laugh; someone you like hanging out with more than anyone else. Congrats, you're in a healthy relationship! 

Apart from being a bit too high on the cutesy scale for my liking, I don't think there's anything wrong with proclaiming your lover as your bestie unless... Is there any chance you're giving yourself an easy out from engaging in the world beyond your Netflix account? Socialising is hard work, especially after you enter your thirties and kids and commitments and an ever decreasing stamina get in the way. How much easier is it to declare your partner your best friend when, conveniently, you don't have to leave the house to see them? Adult friendships take a lot of effort but I seriously think they're worth it. When navigating life it's a gift to have access to as many perspectives as possible and to gain that it helps to have a wide circle of friends. A partner will offer endless support but when seeking advice, I find a person who doesn't want to sleep with me can be more objective. And of course if your partner is your best friend, who are you going to turn to when you need to have a good old moan about them?

How can you trust a man when you've had previous horrible relationships? - Ruth

One of my first bosses was a horrible, horrible man. He was 'playfully' misongynistic, casually racist and what I found worse at the time, almost never did any work. He was a walking embodiment of the patriachy, having secured his senior role on the golf course, he distracted from his lack of ability by belittling his subordinates, always younger, most often female. It was a common occurrence to find a woman crying in the loos before lunch; we all accepted him as something to endure rather than overcome. I didn't think I had a choice but to accept him because there were bills to pay and happy hours to frequent and although he made me miserable, I thought I could do little but work hard until I had enough experience to move on to another job. And that's what I did, even though my first experience of being an employee was tortuous, I found another job because the benefits of working (being able to pay rent) outweighed the risks of working under another monster. The same is true for relationships, after a brush with evil it can be tempting to stay away from the dating game entirely but then you may miss out on all of the delicious perks of being in a couple (less bin emptying, night time foot warmer). The key is not in trusting men but trusting yourself, know that with your updated romance CV you will find better partners and opt out of relationships that don't meet your criteria. Remind yourself...

More experience means better positions. With all your life and love experience you will have more to offer a partner and that means you will attract similarly equipped men. Make clear to anyone you what you value in life, a good match will be excited to meet you where you are; don't accept a contract with anyone who dismisses your needs or doesn't understand your goals.  

Ask questions at the interview. We all know a first date is an interview. I refer to my first meeting with a guy as a pre-date. Usually I opt for coffee or a drink, something lasting less than an hour. This is my time to assess their presentation skills, get a quick overview of their relationship history and ensure there is no ick factor. Should a potential partner succeed at this stage they can progress to the cinema or maybe even dinner. Don't wait to be chosen, you get to be the picker. 

There's always a probation period. Films and fairy tales have made us think that the only way to find love is to throw caution to the wind but real life doesn't always have a happy ending and it really irritates me that some people give more thought to their electricity supplier than the people they let into their life. Use the first few weeks of a courtship to assess your dates potential for the position and if they don't meet the criteria don't be afraid to cut them loose - you're amazing, there will be plenty of new applicants. 

If you have a question submit to

How do you keep romance alive when you have two kids and little time? - Kim

This question warms my heart so much! I'm sorry you're struggling to find the time to get soppy with the other half but please take some comfort in the fact that you want to. So many couples slip into a state where they're living like disgruntled housemates and wonder why they have nothing to talk about when they do get a moment alone together. You still want to make beautiful memories with your partner and that's half the battle! You are well ahead in the game. Kids are passion killers, it's probably a good thing, otherwise you'd inadvertently fill you house with 'too much prosecco' babies. One day the kids will be gone and you'll have all the time you want to share candlelit evenings together. Isn't that exciting?! Simply keep romance on life support for a little bit longer, doll. 

You'll be pleased to know I've had questions along these lines before - you are not alone. I don't know what people are expecting after introducing a screaming, crapping, attention-hogging, emotional and financial parasite into their relationship but this 'kids are killing the romance' problem is a common one. So here's some previous posts that in summary encourage you to make the most of the little time you have:

Alternatively, you can do what I did - get divorced, move out, struggle to support two households, divide time with your children, start the soul destroying process of online dating, weed through dozens of cretinous men to find the one respectable dude left on the planet and invite romance into your life every other weekend! Things don't sound so bad now do they...

Does anyone find themselves wondering why a partner cheats? - Tracy

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? - Catherine

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? - Margaret

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