The transition from footloose bachelorhood to a proper relationship is possibly the trickiest in a man’s life. Finding The One, though, may depend less on stumbling across your fantasy woman, and more on your attitude to “settling down’’
There comes a point in every man’s life when he realizes that competing with a deafening soundtrack to scream, “Nice tan!’’ into a strange girl’s bright orange ear has suddenly, and to your great astonishment, lost its magic. Dreamy imaginings of a night club full of women, for so long a glimpse of heaven on earth, are without warning drained of life and color to be replaced by another more tantalizing vision-one girl friend, one flat, one life.
Unfortunately, all the communication techniques you spent hours refining in bars, night clubs and Mediterranean pleasure domes are of little use to you when moving to the next stage of domestication. Likewise, your primitive methods of partner evaluation-breast quality, skirt, length and the rest-are not going to assist in deciding whether your partner is ideal long-term relationship material.
Indeed, the part of the male brain that believes it can calculate the suitability of a women as a sexual partner from a nanosecond’s glimpse of her bum thinks it deserves a seat at these negotiations over the next stage of your life. But that would be like sending the village idiot to an OPEC meeting.
Is she the one?
In fact, the key to working out whether she’s the metical “one’’ lies not so much in her qualities as your suitability for a more permanent emotional and residential arrangement. Your old brain, the one that still think that alcohol is dinner, well below its useless advice at you all the same, and these are the messages you must overcome. To successfully make that leap from tom-catting around to fully appreciating the pleasures of embarking on a long spell with one, and only one girl depends in large part on how you handle the following six delusions:
IF WE LIVE TOGETHER, I’LL HAVE SEX ON TAP
There’s an old saying that goes like this: If you put a penny in a jar every time you make love in the first year of marriage, and take a penny out every time you make love after that, the jar will never be emptied. Which is an odd coinage-related way of telling us that sex with the same person gets boring really fast. Imagine it-the same positions, the same foreplay, the same orgasms, and the bodies rarely improve as the years roll cruelly by. You’ll both lose interest in seeing each other naked, but your “commitment’ will mean you can’t seek resource in other, more nubile lovers. In fact, you may not even be able to use porn without being turfed out of bed faster that Osama Bin Laden.
If you feel confident, you’ll be able to navigate this inevitable sexual doldrum together, she’s The One. If you think “at least single guys can jerk off whenever they want to’’ she’s not.
BEING IN A RELATIONSHIP MEANS THERE’S ALWAYS SOMEONE TO TALK TO
Just as your own repertoire of Knock jokes begin to lose their shine after the third hearing, so will her stories about Geoff at work being a tyrant in meetings, or her friend Kate’s dilemma whether to cut her hair in a bib this summer. Worse, if you react to this vocal chloroform in what any sane man would deem to be a sensible fashion, i.e. by sending a few texts or contemplating the dirt under your fingernails, she will treat it as a vicious personal attack. Then there’ll be an argument, and your character flaws-many of which you were completely unaware of until you were lucky enough to fall in love-will be raked up for your contemplation. In the spare bedroom. Alone.
If you’re going to be shocked when, for whatever reason, the eternal summer of love turns glacial-or volcanic-she’s not for you. If you’re ready for the full range of female “emotions’’-go for it!
I’LL GET MY MEALS COOKED FOR ME
The dining room is one area of the house where your old brain can’t help getting your girlfriend muddled up with your mum. But whereas the latter put in an 18-year shift producing your breakfast, dinner and tea, your girlfriend is more likely to have succumbed to the lure of the takeaway and the ready meal. And this in spite of Masterchef’s best effort to convince the nation that no dinner plate should be without a celeriac smear. Once she moves in, mealtimes may well consist of her waiting for the microwave to go “ding”, serving up two identical plates of mush in front of Strictly Come Dancing, and then repeatedly dipping her fork into your portion “because it looks nicer”.
If you’re prepared to accept that her attitude to filling your fat face may differ significantly from the other woman in your life, she’s the One. If you think a deep fat fryer is the ideal anniversary present, perhaps not.
WE CAN GET A BIGGER PLACE TOGETHER
Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash
True, even in today’s hilarious housing market, your combined income should allow you to take a leap up the property ladder. But, in terms of sheer square footage, you actually had more room to yourself in your poky old bachelor pad. Plus, you were allowed to decorate the bedroom there any way you liked, with pride of place going to your collection of Lord Of The Rings figurines and that road sign your stole from a German villages called Kumschott. Now you are faced with rapid adaptation to her taste in emasculating soft furnishings, set against a color scheme that would make even Graham Norton recoil. Your sole contribution to the project will be some crude DIY, your skills at which she will peevishly demean.
Like genitals, men’s and woman’s furniture is fundamentally different. If you’re prepared to let her decorative DNA dominate, she’s The One. If, however, your vision of the shared living room is 50% Elle Décor, 50% Southampton FC, then move on.
IT’LL GIVE ME EMOTIONAL SECURITY
When you finally move in together, you may think you’ve waved goodbye to all the anxieties that plague the bachelor. After all, you’ll have conclusively proved-however much your friends insist to the contrary-that you are not so boring, Ugly or unpleasant that no woman would have you. But instead of resting on your laurels, you’ll soon become aware that you’re actually swapped your old worries for a new and far more powerful set of neuroses. Why is she coming back late from work so often? Why won’t she let you see her Facebook messages? What was she giggling about with her best friend yesterday? The paranoia will start to eat at you, made ten time worse because there’s so much more at stake than when you were just casually dating. As well as the deep sexual humiliation of being cuckolded by a proper affair, there’s the expense of moving out and finding a new place to live. Which will almost certainly be a windowless bedsit with nylon carpets and a vague smell of Brussels sprouts.
If you’re open to the concept that there are still other people in her life and she may wish to communicate with them, she’s The One. If you feel moving in together is the time for a woman to do away with fripperies like mobile phones and speaking, she’s not.
TWO CAN LIVE AS CHEAPLY AS ONE
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Correction: She can live even cheaper than before, because despite the joint income it will, in all probabilities, still be you who forks out for the majority of treats, drinks and birthday/anniversary/apology dinners. Despite having a handbag large enough to contain all the pieces of equipment necessary for an Olympic decathlon, restaurant tables are not the cradle of financial equality. And when she finally gets pregnant- which is what settling down together is all about, right? -the she’ll need to quit work for a few years. Suddenly there will be three mouths living off a single pay packet, and you’ll actually be worse off financially than when you had a holiday job picking olives on a kibbutz.
If you are to quantify the rewards of a shared life as greater than mere financial considerations, she’s The One. If you instead find yourself bitterly muttering “Love is the word for zero in tennis’’, then no, not this time.