Use somebody

“Someone like you and all you know and how you speak”

Kings of Leon, Use somebody

Recently, one of my friends ended his four year relationship with his significant other. He met her during a cocktail party a long time ago, and she became friend with him.

My friend, although he’s very clever, has a weakness with the opposite sex. He has been fooled many times, and he still hasn’t learned from his mistakes.

After his divorce, he started a relationship with her. Men can’t stay single for long after a divorce, while for women, it’s often different. Some of my female friends have stayed single for long after their divorce, sometimes ten years, before jumping again in a new relationship.

His new significant other used to be a politician’s wife. He died of cancer a long time ago. She has a status of “femme du monde”, like we say here, designating women who are regular guests to banquets and cocktails party organized for the high society. They are also rich, sometimes famous, but not because of what they have accomplished. Usually, they appear on people magazine pages, dedicated to mundane cocktails and painting exhibitions. Not because they have published a book, nor won a tennis tournament, nor saved people,…  In my country, several magazines have some pages where you can see “important” people at business clubs, country clubs, art exhibition inaugural parties, … One of them tried to get rid of it, but it received so many complaints from readers it had to put those pages back on.

As a well respected intellectual figure, my friend was also invited to those events. He’s brilliant, so he has no problem attracting women (and men). Usually, people just listen to him with admiration.

That’s how he met her.

Several times during his relationship with her, he told me he was unhappy, because she was hysterical. She was mean with his daughter. He said she banned her from her house. He feared her.

Yet, curiously, he started to appear in people magazines, alongside her. Later, he told me it was her initiative, as she wanted to have her picture in those magazines.

In other words, she used him and his celebrity to get access to fame.

He only realized this recently. He had a difficult year last year, because of his job, and also a lawsuit. Sometimes, we need a shock in our life to realize what’s wrong with it.

She sounds like a manipulative personality. It’s not easy to get out of such a toxic relationship.


Lost generation (dating apocalypse)

The Y generation is very fragile in this economy. For those who don’t come from the upper class, where their parents can provide their big networking, it’s difficult to find a good job, or even go to a prestigious college. In Europe, the recession has hit hard the young generation. In Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy, and even Ireland, not to say Iceland, the young generation has a huge rate of unemployment. Even in my country, it’s difficult. The young people who just go out of college can’t find a stable job. Just in my newsroom, all of the new young journalists who got hired were just offered a three months or six months contract they can’t refuse, because very few medias are hiring. We have to let go several of them once their contract were ended. I have seen many who have collected three months contract in other newspapers before arriving in my newsroom, where they are not guaranteed to stay. Unfortunately for them, when our budget is tight, the first to get fired are the ones who hold a short term contract.

Yet, they have gained a precious experience, and most of my former young coworker have found a permanent contract in other newspapers or medias, sometimes abroad. My newspaper has an excellent reputation for those who worked there.

Unfortunately for them, as it comes to love, they are the most fragile too. Because they are not guaranteed to have a long term relationship anymore.

Vanity Fair wrote an article about the damage done by social media like Tinder. The topic is also raised in Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg in their book “Modern Romance: an investigation”. With social media and dating sites, you get that feeling of always having the possibility to find a better person. We’re never satisfied with our choice, and we can’t choose, because there are too many choices.  Vanity Fair even called that a dating apocalypse. But I can’t help thinking about all of those who hook up through Tinder, and how dangerous is it. Because you put yourself in danger with random strangers you find on that social media. We seem to forget, when we swipe to the right or the left, that there’s a human being behind that screen, with all what it means.

Womanizers can collect women, but some will make them pay. They can get pregnant even after a one night stand (or just ten minutes of sex…), crush them if they are powerful, stalk them, threaten them, not to mention the worst.

I really don’t think social media are a great place to find love, especially Tinder, where it’s more about consumption. I don’t think it’s possible to have a relationship with someone you don’t know send you a picture of his private parts as an introduction to himself.


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?


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.


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.


When you’re different


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.