love

Is it hard to meet the right person?

Apparently, there’s a perfect age to get married, according to mathematics. If you tie the knot at 28 to 32, there’s a low risk of divorce.

But what if you’re 28 to 32, and you haven’t found the right person yet? I’m 36, and I haven’t met the right person. Does it mean I’m doomed?

Some of my friends have met their right person later than when they were 32. One of my friends, who’s 38, has just moved in with her significant other. She met him two years ago through a dating site. Does it mean her relationship is ill fated?

Of course not.

Last year, I attended two weddings where the bride was way over 32. One tied the knot at 38, eight years after meeting her future husband. She could have been married at 32, the “golden age”. But life decides it other ways. Unfortunately for her, at 32, her mother passed away. She was too distraught to think about engagement at the time. And her significant other got offered to work abroad. She let him go away.

The other one was 36 when she got married. She only met her future husband two years ago. So, she was past the golden age when she met him.

So far, I haven’t heard there’s trouble in paradise for those newlyweds. Only time will tell if their marriage can last.

Nothing can predict when we will meet the right person. We can’t decide when we will meet the right person. Because it doesn’t depend solely on us. There are other people involved.

We can meet the wrong person at 28-32. We don’t have a crystal ball to tell us we’ve picked the right or the wrong person. But there are hints: if your friends or family, or both, are against your significant other, this may sound like an alarm. Most of us won’t listen to this warning.

One of the brides who I met at her wedding had that warning signal. Months later, when I was at a party, I met the husband’s friends, who told me they didn’t like his wife. “She’s mean with him. She always shouts at him“one of them said.

The bride was 28 at her wedding, the groom was 32, so they had the golden age. Yet, for some reasons, I can’t help thinking their wedding is doomed. Because his friends don’t like her.  The wedding was really strange too. While the best man listed all the qualities of the groom, the maid of honor made a bland speech about how the bride and her used to bicker when they were younger.  After their speech, the bride got angry, and complained they made her look as if she was a mean person. “I’m always the mean one” she complained.

That was strange, but not the strangest wedding speech I’ve heard so far. The weirdest one was when the bride’s speech was done by one of her male coworkers… It was a bland speech, but hey, that was weird.

If I look at the divorce rate in my country (one out of two end up in a divorce in the cities), I would say we have it difficult to find the right person.

Besides, how do we know we have found the right person?

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Risky business (Ashley Madison hacked)

Ashley Madison, the extramarital dating site, has been hit by a cyberattack. The hackers threaten to leak the personal details of users. This site has more than 30 millions users in North America.

It seems there’s nowhere to be safe on internet. And this case is a reminder that everything you publish online, even if it’s private, has the chance to be exposed to the public at least once. Not so long ago, stars like Jennifer Lawrence got their iPhone hacked and the hackers leaked their personal photos. The hackers picked all the stars who sent naked pictures of themselves to their significant other. And of course, they choose the young and attractive ones. Not to mention the numerous cases of revenge porn, where the angry ex-lovers publish their ex’s naked picture on forums and public website.

The hackers have a common goal: shaming. As various medias wrote, divorce lawyers could have a great week with this Ashley Madison scandal.

But who are the users of Ashley Madison? Not so long ago, GQ wrote an article about the Married women of AshleyMadison. Through these profiles, you can get an idea about their counterparts. Sometimes, there are politicians, athletes, CEOs, … I guess since Anthony Wiener got caught on Twitter hitting on women, other politicians have tried to get more cautious and use Ashley Madison to find women (or men) who will remain mum about their affairs.

In that article, the married women can also have a high-powered career, that could be torpedoed. Plus, in american companies, if you’re an adulterer,  you’re likely to be fired. In Europe, especially in France (and even in Germany), people are much more comfortable with infidelity, it’s not a big deal, as mentioned Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg in their book “Modern Romance”. I don’t say everyone here is ok with infidelity. But you can’t be fired because you got caught cheating on your significant other. In my company (in Belgium), one of my coworkers got caught cheating with the receptionist. He’s still working for us. As for the receptionist, unfortunately, after our company got merged, we had to let her go.

Cheaters never win.

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Modern romance (Am I wrong?)

Aziz Ansari, an american comedian, wrote a book with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg, called “Modern Romance”. It was a great read, and I share their view about investing in the people you meet, and not just hoping for a better person to come. It’s true that today, in our modern society, we’ve never had more options when it comes to find love. But as a result, we’re flooded with choices, and as Columbia professor Sheena Iyengar said in her book “the art of choosing”, the more choices we have, the more chances we can end up making no decision at all.

In the book “Modern Romance”, the two authors remind us that a few decades ago, people would find a decent person in their neighborhood. It was the rule back then, now it’s an exception. Among my friends, some of them have found their soulmate thanks to dating sites. Some have found their soulmate through friends of friends. Some have found their soulmate at the office. This is the case for the thirty-something around me. But when I asks older people about how they met their significant other, most of them told me they married someone from their neighborhood.

Today, we search for our soul mate. People marry later. And divorce easily. Around me, most people have divorced or end a long term relationship at least once. It seems we have it so wrong.

Is it because of this economy, where young people struggle to find a decent job? I don’t think it’s the only explanation. After all, there are many temptations nowadays. As Aziz Ansi and Eric Klinenberg wrote, there’s always the hope of finding a better person when you’re on a dating site, where many people are registered. It’s even worse with app like Tinder, where you swipe to the right or the left the picture you have in front of you.

In the book, the two authors also underline another problem with social media. On Facebook, ex’s spy on each other, and never turn the page. People don’t have the courage to unfriend their ex’s, even if it’s the wise thing to do.  But as the authors note, even if you’re not friends anymore, you can still get a peek of your ex’s new life through common friends.

And even with your significant other, you can be trapped with social media. If you like a photo of a man/woman on Facebook, especially if he/she on the beach with little clothes on, your significant other can get jealous. I have noticed not so long ago one of my friends on Facebook got into some trouble because of that. His woman suddenly subscribed on Facebook, asked him to indicate they were on a relationship on FB, and started to like every of his posts to show she was there. Before she got on FB, he used to like many photos of women, including mine. I’ve noticed he has kept it low key since then, and started to comment on journalists/politicians/TV personality/ economists… pages instead. But he’s always on FB.

As the authors of the book Modern Romance conclude, it’s important to invest in your relationship. That means avoiding internet, Facebook , Instagram, Twitter,… to spend time, quality time, with the person you love. Or spend time discovering the person you just met.

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When you’re different

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Some time ago I was invited to attend the French Open at Roland Garros. Next to me, there were two ladies who noticed a woman with a face deformity, sitting not very far. She wore a bright yellow jacket, make-up, and held a glass of champagne. She was chatting with her friends, and looked very happy to be there. She was sitting in the VIP section, and didn’t care at all about what people thought about her.

I guess when you’re among your group of friends, you feel stronger, especially if your friends are supportive. Not all groups are good for you. But when you grow old, you know you should avoid staying too long in a toxic friendship. At least, wise people do.

When I was in Iceland not so long ago, I also noticed the same dynamic with a young Chinese lady. She was bathing next to me at the Blue Lagoon, with her group of friends. Her left leg was amputated, and she relied on her friends to move around in the water. She was laughing with her friends, and playing in the water. She didn’t care about the reactions around her. To me, she just looked beautiful.

Apparently, we’re much more attractive when we are in a group. It’s not difficult to understand. When you’re in a group, especially if it’s your group of friends, you feel happy, and smile more than when you’re alone. When you’re alone, you’re also more vulnerable to people. I get that a lot when I’m at a cocktail where I barely know anybody. Usually, I get hit by guys who think I’m an easy prey (I’m not). And they are creepy.

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Women traveling solo

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I do travel alone abroad. I’ve visited many countries on my own. But I don’t leave my country without planning my travel carefully.

Recently, I went to Iceland, where I chose to make a guided visit, with a group of people. I didn’t know any of them before. And I was surprised there were other women traveling solo in the group. One of them was an old lady, who has traveled solo for twenty years. She explained she needed to visit other countries, mainly in Africa. It’s her treat. She used to be a psychiatric nurse, a very heavy job. So, every year, since 1995, she has been traveling abroad on her own. Her late husband  didn’t accompany him, nor her sons. She said her husband didn’t like to travel, as one of her sons. The other one is just too busy with his job and his four kids to think about traveling. “But he’s the one who asks me a lot of questions about my travels when I get back home. And I can see he’s a bit jealous” she said. “My husband didn’t care. When he used to pick me at the airport, his only words were: was it great? and then, he would switch to another subject” she added.

There was also a young lady in my group. She’s married. But her husband didn’t accompany her. “Usually, I travel with  a friend of mine. But this time, she wanted to visit Turkey, while I wanted to go to Iceland. So I went on my own” she said. “My husband don’t like to travel. He just wants to go to Spain and lay down on a beach towel” she added. She has already chosen her next destination: Antarctica. Of course, she would be going alone. Her husband won’t accompany her either.

There was a middle-aged lady in my group, who was also traveling alone. She was single, and none of her friends wanted to accompany her. She said it was her fault. “One month ago, I wasn’t sure I could travel, because my ankle was still injured after an accident I had seven months ago. But three weeks ago, I felt better, and I decided to come here. Of course, none of my friends could move their agenda because of my late decision, but it’s better this way” she said.

In fact, I agree with her. Because it’s difficult to find someone who will accept to accompany you. Either it’s because of a lack of money, a lack of time, or just because of the destination. “When I announced I was going to Iceland, everyone said around me it was a weird destination” said the married solo traveler.

Despite that, there were two old ladies in my group traveling together. They left their husband and children at home. They said they have been traveling together for years now. I guess it’s a question of finding the right person to travel with.

It’s better to travel alone, or with someone who share the same love for traveling (and the destination). In my group, there were also couples. One of the husbands used to complain a lot during the journey. Another one said nothing, but it was clear he just wanted to please his wife, who was the one really enthusiastic about the country.

In my plane to Reykjavik, next to my seat, I could hear the conversation of the couple next to me. The woman never stopped complaining about their destination. I guess their holidays were starting great…

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life, men, thoughts, women

Vulnerable in the bedroom

The New York Times runs a piece about Emma Sulkowicz, a student at Columbia University, who carries a mattress with her all of the time as a protest against sexual assault on campus. She says she will continue to carry that mattress as long as her rapist attends the same school than her. Unfortunately, sexual assaults happen too often on campus. When I was in College, I remember there was a warning message hanging everywhere in my building against a rapist who was running errands around our building. Our university even put around the building and the campus ringing alarms people could easily trigger and which make a hell of a noise but are very dissuasive.

What strikes me in Emma Sulkowicz is her own experience with sexual assault. Her boyfriend abused her while they were having casual sex. I can’t imagine how awful it was.

Unfortunately, when we accept to have sex with someone, we become vulnerable, because we give him/her our trust. Nobody accepts to have sex with someone we don’t trust.  But our trust can weaken with drugs or alcohol which impair our judgment.

In College, and later, alcohol and drugs can be easily found. There are countless occasions to get high or drunk. And most of us ends up having sex with random strangers or people who try to take an advantage of us. When I was in College, I remember that guy who always found his victim at the end of the night, because she was drunk and lonely. He wasn’t handsome. He was a bit scary, and I did my best to stay far away from him during parties. I also tried to stay lucid even if I drank a lot with my friends. But some of my friends recall their one night stands caused by this mix of alcohol and sometimes drugs. No one really was bragging about this.  There’s nothing to be proud of  in this situation.

Some of my friends admitted their one night stand was sometimes as drunk as they were, so they didn’t fear anything. Yet, one of them once told me she did run away when she realized where she was heading. She said the guy scared her.

And this was almost 15 years now.

Since then, more and more men, young men, watch porn movies that flood the internet. In those movies, women are just sluts who say yes to everything. Not a great guide for their sex life.

As Michel Houellebecq writes in his book, is this the sign of a declining civilization, where we only consume porn movies and swing parties? Our society is only living for desire, never fulfilled. We have forgotten how to love.

Is this the sign of a declining civilization when we have to fear the person we have sex with, and when we feel vulnerable in the bedroom?

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