The Chase

 

Tales as old as time, tell of fine princes on horses pursuing damsels in distress. Men like the chase we’re told. They used to be cave men you see, and had to hunt things. We women are like modern day deer. So be all doe eyed, demurely frollicking in some shrubs waiting (but not waiting) for that modern day cave man to come pursue you.

Play hard to get. But be warm, friendly and approachable. Remain marginally out of their reach, but also be flirty and fun. It’s a difficult act to master, and a fine line to balance. If it was a maths equation the calculus would look roughly like this:

y(2×4+y)dydx=(1−4xy2)x2

Maths was never really my thing. What about girls who enjoy an element of chasing themselves? Yes, despite prehistoric tales of manly cave men, the hunt can go both ways. A man coming on too strong too quickly can be a massive turn off and frankly just a little bit creepy.

If a man pursues me before a seed of interest has sparked he has no hope. The more adamantly he pursues, the more vehemently my disinterest grows. My friend has a technical term for this feeling: the ick. It’s that feeling where you stomach drops, and you feel physically nauseous at the sight of someone. This aloof response could be mistaken for a doe eyed deer playing the game, yet it’s a fatal presumption to make.

Refer back to Doe the deer in paragraph one. A smarter hunter will wait until the deer flashes a knowing glance or slight smile before going in for the kill. The smart deer will have mastered the art of appearing to be chased, unbeknownst to the hunter it’s part of their devious plan.

I pose the question, who therefore holds the power in this equation? The hunter or the deer? Surely the pull dynamic is mirrored equally by both parties.

Many* a men have been surveyed to determine men’s feelings on women asking them on dates. It seems like men don’t really mind, though I have my suspicions they prefer to at least believe they were in the position of power.

Once I read something that said, yes in today’s modern world women can chase men, but if they do they will never really know how he actually felt. They took away the moment when he was able to show initiative and indicate his true feelings. I think this holds a lot of truth. Unfortunately patience is not my greatest strength.

I once asked a man out on a date. Once being emphasised. Not like a tinder chatter, but a real man from the real world. On an actual date. Out of the blue. I got a wishy washy answer that was not to my liking. Six months later he indicated interest. By this point I was on the other side of the world. Standard.

It reminds me of the book my mum brought me before I first went travelling. He’s just no that into you. I think it scarred me for many a years, until a fairy godfather spoke to me.

I was on a TV commercial shoot in New Zealand, when the big fancy international Director was like, “Kesha, can I ask you something? Do you have a partner?”

Taken by surprise, I was like “Errr.. No…?”

“Let me give you a piece of advice. It’s best advice anyone ever gave me. When you meet someone, and feel that mutual spark you need to trust it. Know that the other person is feeling it too. What happens from there is more a reflection of the place they are at in life than of you.”

This little gem of insight really flipped the way I looked at attraction on it’s head.

He continued. “When I met my wife, it just felt different. Before I’d always wanted to spend more time with the person or felt like I should. But for the first time I actually wanted to. Something had changed.” For the record, his wife had first expressed interest in him, yet it was only a year or so later when her saw her in this different light. Duly noted.

I couldn’t help but wonder what had inspired him to share this titbit of wisdom with me. Had he seen me swooning over what was clearly a not so subtle on set crush?

I caught John Snow* looking at me a few times, then he sauntered right up to me and confidently proclaimed “I’ve met you before.”

“Hmmm, no don’t think so.”

“I definitely have.”

I disagreed. I didn’t tell him it was because he was so hot I definitely would’ve remembered him if I had.

The next day he waltz up looking rather chuffed. “I figured it out. You were Joffery’s* girlfriend. I met you when you were living in Wellington when he was on the Hobbit.”

“Oh.”

I have to say I was impressed that loved up coupled up Kesha was immune to the charm of such a handsome man. He hadn’t even made it into the memory bank. Wow.

Over the next few days he was forever sidling up to me to chat. He was one of the most charismatic men I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. He had this way of extracting stories from my lips, always managing to twist my words so everything sounded sexually charged. I blushed so many shades of crimson. It was infuriating.

Yet at the end of the shoot nothing happened. We messaged slightly, but he wasn’t driving it towards anything. He always messaged at strange times of the day. A wise friend familiar with the ways of the world told me he had a girlfriend. Her prediction was of course true. And yet there was a lesson to be learnt from the Director and Mr Snow.

I wasn’t afraid of rejection anymore. If I liked someone and sensed the feeling was mutual I no longer questioned if they liked me. It was obvious they liked me. It merely came down to what they wanted, and the place they were at in life. I could be more straight forward, and then see what their move was. It was empowering.

Maybe the chase is less linear then originally perceived. I think the idea of a man reeling a woman in like a fishing line is direly boring not only to women, but men also. Perhaps the chase is more like an intricate dance. Take any sensual dance like tango or Bachata, it’s always based on a mutual dynamic between the two. Coming close, and pulling away. Both equally footed, and both confidentially assured. Seduction perhaps mirrors intimacy itself.

If go back to the original premise of the chase, we have our prince and our damsel. She’s sitting a top the castle idly plaiting her hair. A strapping young prince catches her eye. She flashes him her winning smile. Smitten he yells out. “Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your golden hair!” I think the actual power, initially at least, comes from our fair lady. She is the one who determines if she desires to be chased, what the prince decides to do well that is another story.

*subject to creative hyperbole

What is love? Baby don’t hurt me

L o v e. It’s the madness of the gods, according to the Ancient Greeks. We write, cry, laugh, rhyme and sing about it. Crazy in love. I can’t help, falling in love with you… You make loving fun. Love me, love me say that you love me. More than words. Nothing compares to you. How deep is your love? It must have been love, but it’s over now. Cry me a river. Now you’re just somebody that I used to know. I will survive.

“Nothing is mysterious, no human relation. Except love.” – Susan Sontag.

Love is central to all human stories.  It’s that feeling of a warm summer’s day. The look of a kid in a water park. All the colours of the rainbow, woven into one.

Love is one of the few things in our world that cannot be bought. It cannot be manipulated. We cannot make ourselves love someone. It’s a force of nature that sneaks up on us, and temporarily changes the hue through which we see the world.

Falling in love affects our brain in a similar way to cocaine and other recreational drugs. The infusion of adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin all explain the wonderful yet somewhat irrational feelings that take over. However like the laws of gravity, what goes up, must come down. If you’re willing to feel the high, you have to be willing to feel the low.

Love is perhaps one of the most coveted, and simultaneously feared things on planet. We yearn for love, and yet many of us are truly terrified by the prospect. The lack of control, the feelings of helplessness, the many tales of unrequited love. Even when we have love we’re scared to lose it.

In the back of our minds, we’re aware that often love ends. Sad, but true. People change. People fall out of love. People grow apart.

“Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one… Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements… But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” C.S Lewis.

Perhaps the only thing worse than heartbreak, is a heart that’s unbreakable. Philosopher Bertrand Russell warned “Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.” That’s because love is perhaps the greatest human experience.

So what exactly is love? It is a word thrown about so easily. Gone are the days of love letters, where people declared undying love and even world wars couldn’t keep them apart. In today’s world people love many over the course of their lives. What is actual love? What is mere words? And what is just settling?

“True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen.” – François de La Rochefoucauld.

Scientists break love down in three stages. Yes, even scientists endorse swoonery.

1. Lust. “Love is friendship that has caught fire” – Ann Landers.

The first stage is attraction. Boy meets girl. Or boy meets boy. Or girl meets girl… You get the picture. It’s all about attraction, and primal instincts. Desire. The sex hormones kick in, and make us want someone. This is the emotionless safe zone. Sparks can fly, but fear not. You can go from person to person, fling to fling and your heart will remain unscathed. Sadly you miss out on love if you live your life in this arena. Cue the playboy or nymph who secretly fear rejection and heartbreak.

 

2. Swoonery. “Whenever you’re near, I hear a symphony.” – The Supremes.

This is perhaps the funnest phase. The feeling of love. The breathlessness, the excitement, the daydreaming, giddiness and straight swooning. You have a spring in your step. You lose your appetite. You find it difficult to sleep. No one makes you feel this way. You’ve never felt this way before. Your memory is slightly skewed, sitting behind love tinted glasses. Whilst this is all very enchanting, and you can have meaningful connections, if you stay here you evade reality. You miss the reward of truly knowing someone and letting yourself be known.

 

3. Attachment. “Love is a flower, you’ve got to let it grow” – John Lennon.
Hormones permeate the body, giving feelings of attachment and security. Attachment lingers close to commitment, perhaps one of the most terrifying words on the planet. We live in a world with so many choices. They are part of what make us human. Choices represent our freedom and individualism. The idea of wading through all these prospects, and choosing one option is a scary thought. Only one. One. One. One. Yet this is perhaps where love really sits. It’s not gliding along the highs of life. Love encompasses the natural ebbs and flows, the ups and downs, the laughs and the tears. These are a necessary part of the human existence.

“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement… That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.” – Louis de Bernières

Perhaps our society’s problem with love is not love itself, but the fact that we feel pressured to commit before we are ready. Before we’ve seen the world, found ourselves, fallen for the wrong and the right people. Because to fall in love at the right time, coming from the right place is one of the most magical things in all the world. And maybe, just maybe worth the potential heartbreak.

What is love? Baby don’t hurt me. 

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photo @nandahagenaars

Written for The Cold Pressed Juicery, Amsterdam

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Cupid’s humour

Cupid’s depicted in a lot of art across Europe, and he seems to be a funny guy. I think that’s why as soon as I was more content in singledom, and not looking for a holiday fling that unlikely suitors appeared.

Just like in all the fairy tales, 3 suitors came, each from further away, and each more intense than the previous.

Suitor 1 was Italian. Incredibly deep, heart felt and a very good listener. He was eager to hear all about my relationship history; the ups and the downs, and yet I wasn’t fooled by the friend card.

When an offer for a midnight moonlight scooter ride arose, I refrained from raising my eyebrow and politely declined ignoring various attempts of persuasion.

Suitor 2, the Spaniard, you may remember from a previous blog “Memoirs of a Keisha”

What originally was a light chat banter suddenly became more intense. 20 successive photos of himself in a row I put down to cultural differences, but then poetry and several messages a day kept coming even if I didn’t reply.

“Roses are red, violets are blue. All of my thoughts involve you!
¡Buenos días princesa!”

Not saying anything clearly wasn’t working so I decided it was time to rectify the situation.

I wrote something along the lines of… recently single, enjoying travelling, not really thinking about guys, hope you can understand.

He replied: “Ok I stop messaging you in a sweet way, and just message you as friends. Kisses”

I sighed.

Suitor 3 I’d met in a group context, so I was relaxed and friendly. When I started to pick up an interested vibe, and he wasn’t picking up on my blatantly just want to be friends vibe I tried the cold shoulder with little success.

He messaged “I’m going past your hostel, do you want to come see my place and have a fresh lemonade”

“No thanks, I’m just relaxing and doing my taxes”

“Do it after, come now just for 1/2 hour”

“Sorry I’m busy, maybe later”

“I’m at your hostel in the courtyard. Come out”

I buried myself further into my bed.
“I want to read for awhile”

“Come read at my place”

“Sorry I just need some Kesha time”

“Okay, come over later, take your time”

I don’t reply. 10 minutes later I receive a photo of his courtyard and a jug of lemonade which I also ignore.

Several hours later the group is dining together again, but I keep my distance especially enthralled in everything the new girl from Melbourne has to say.

I dodge him for most of the night, but wake up to a drunk declaration of feelings. Unfortunately his message didn’t evoke any swoonery, it just made me feel a little ill.

I don’t reply. Next thing there’s a photo of his breakfast.

I reply. Something along the lines of what suitor 2 got.

I come back to my hostel and he’s waiting there. Seriously?! He insists on walking me to my taxi (to the next town – thank god!) and I escape with a slightly too enthused kiss on the cheek as a mutual friend walked past at the opportune time.

It seems to me the age old condition of wanting what we can’t have.

Why else would all these strangely persistent suitors appear (and not disappear) when I had virtually no romantic interest in them?

If hypothetically there was such a princess, I think in the fairy tale version they’d all fuck off and she would get to choose someone herself if and when she felt like it.

But then maybe this alleged hypothetical princess needs to worry less about hurting people’s feelings and be more assertive. Damn Disney, teaching niceties and
sweetness!

It would appear that Disney princesses would be very ill equipt for Cupid’s cheeky ways.

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Memoirs of a Keisha

I wanted a European date. Several. Surely it was a crucial part of the European experience. Yet I’d been away for a month and seemed to be doing a rubbish job of achieving it. After meeting far too many drunken Australians and Kiwis at hostels there had to be a different way. Tinder?

I’d tried it for a very brief 24 hour period in New Zealand where I ran into the Ex, as well as virtually every single guy in my industry. I quickly swore off it. Europe however was surely a different ball game. And so the social experiment begins.

Phase 1 – Voyeurism
I’ve always been fascinated by how people from different countries look. What better way to get a broad scope of the locals look?
Phase 1 was purely swiping. Screen grabbing a few good looking candidates to message girlfriends with a chuckle.

Phase 2. Chatting.
Well, I am single I reasoned. I may as well do something with this new found singledom. Like talking. Yes talking, I seemed to be good at that.

I sent a Finnish guy what I thought was a hilarious message.
“I’m doing research into how many Finnish men have blonde beards”
I was instantly unmatched. Dammit. My great humour clearly wasn’t appreciated.

I also needed to work on the frequency I checked my messages. I always seemed to be exactly 500km away by the time I was replying to someone’s message.

Phase 3. Meeting.
It was time to go on a European date. All for research sake I told myself, think of the great stories to tell! Candidate 1 was to be an exceptionally cute Spaniard. I’d already charmed him with my exceptionally average Spanish.

Getting on a bus at Lake Bled, and who is about to get off but him? I catch his eye in a moment of recognition. Do I smile? I decide on blue steel. I sneak a look, he is beautiful. Dammit should have smiled.

“You creep!” my friends proclaim, “How did you recognise him”?

“I’m good with faces”

“He is so your type”

It turns out I apparently do have a type. Where did this strange fetish for beards and hipsters come from?

A few hours later I’m having dinner with the girls and get a message
“Hey I think I saw you today”

My blue steel was recognised!

“You look pretty and familiar”

The girls shriek with delight, and I swoon a little.

“What did you think of me?” He asks.

“You look like the actor from Motorcycle diaries.” It’s true, he does.

“So shall we get a drink?”

Next thing I’m on my first ever Tinder date. He’s wearing a T-shirt proclaiming “sorry ladies I’m in the night watch.” Interesting choice.

He’s lovely. And I receive an invite to visit Barcelona, but unfortunately my travels are taking me in the other direction. Next stop Italy.

Ahhh Italia!! I nannyed here many summers ago and became so besotted with the country itself. Maybe I’ll forgot all about my desire to go on dates. Maybe.

And a brief look at men around the world…

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Lithuania

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Slovenia

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Finland

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Croatia

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Latvia

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Estonia

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Spain

L.O.V.E

Love.

I type the word and endless cliches come to mind, followed closely by cheesy lyrics. That crazy little thing called love. Love is in the air. Stop in the name of love. One love. Truly madly deeply. Still the one.

But to write about love itself in a raw, honest state is quite terrifying. All my words disappear.

I’ve never had my heart broken. I wonder what this says about me. I may have the allure of openness, but I’m not sure this is completely true.

Perhaps I have seen too many of the heartbroken, and decided this is a fate I’d like to spare myself.

Why do the heartbroken find it so hard to love again? People seem so jaded.

And once we have love is it enough? How do we get it to stay?

http://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life

This article by Yes Magazine makes some interesting points. Our modern society emphasises Eros – love fuelled by passion and sexual desire. Yet apparently what we need is a love based on Philla – deep friendship with a large splash of Ludus – playful and frivolity. We put too much emphasis on falling in love, and not enough on “standing in love”.

I’m sure that’s something we can all relate to. But we’ve grown up with the idea that we want to feel in love, if we don’t feel that something’s wrong. Do we give up too quickly?

This is a great love quote from an old favourite novel of mine:

“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.”
― Louis de BernièresCaptain Corelli’s Mandolin

I like that quote. But it kinda disappoints me.

L.O.V.E

I still have no answers really. Any lovers out there full of infinite wisdom?

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Relationships in the age of Facebook

I write this at risk of sounding like a complete cynic. Social media may be screwing with our relationships — and not in a good way.

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We meet someone. We Facebook stalk them. We pretend we haven’t. Someone let’s something slip. We laugh about it. We secretly know everything they’ve done in the last 5 years. How endearing. Things go well. We tag them in a photo. They don’t untag. It must be love. We make it official on the book. Next thing there’s an erray of Instagram and Facebook tags #bestboyfriendever #luckygirl #love and my new personal favourite #ily

Did anyone else just feel a bit nauseous?

Yes we’ve all become exhibitionists and voyeurists in life. But relationships, aren’t they a personal intimate thing? And if we’re so happy, shouldn’t we be so loved up that we’re not constantly bursting to showcase it to the world?

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In high school Shakespeare taught me “all that glitters is not gold.” He seemed like a pretty smart guy. I can’t help but wonder if maybe the more glitter, the less gold. The more online loving, the less real time loving.

Oh and while we’re on the topic of loving, I recently read an article that proclaimed fun in the bedroom is at an all time low. Apparently we’d rather play with our iPads and iPhones. Don’t know about you, but I feel like that’s not a very good trade off.

I also read an article on the faux pas of new relationships. My favourite part was were it said not to change your relationship status on the first date. Really? How did someone even conceive that they needed to state this point?

It continued to say you may write a Facebook status about how you enjoyed the date. You can even remark how you’d like a follow up date. Photo tags were okay on date 2. Really? Really? Isn’t that all just a little bit creepy and dare I say — desperate? I for one like a bit of mystique, and that, well that would just ruin everything.

Then we come to the big Ex. To defriend or not to defriend, that is the question? An issue of great contention. There’s your own sanity and jealousy to consider. It seems a little bit sad and petty, but maybe in the interest of minismising online stalking it’s a good thing.

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And if you get a new plus one to appease, well they may have a few ideas of their own of the matter.

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It’s all a rather sad situation for our generation. And this is merely the tip of the iceberg. It makes me nostalgic for the past. Bring back the days of film cameras and love letters and sweet simplicity.

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And so relationships, they’re complex at the best of times. Add in social media and you get a huge hairy spider, spinning webs of even more complexity.

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Baby Face Syndrome

Yes, for some of us it’s a very real problem. We all desire the elixir of youth, but are there downsides to looking younger than you are?

People judge us within 7 seconds. Have a look, go.

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Young. Sweet. Innocent. Naive. Inexperienced. Awful, the list goes on… Baby pink definitely doesn’t help. Neither does the dimple or ringlets or butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth smile. I chose this photo, yes, but to illustrate my point. Luckily I no longer go around in muted pastels.

Perception is huge. Your level of wisdom and maturity is often judged on your perceived age. So if people think you’re young it’s not really a good thing. Unless your trying to sneak into a movie as a student, and then you saved yourself $5. Score.

I always looked old for my age until I was 12. Then I stopped growing. And since then my height, face and chirpy disposition have all made me seem younger then I actually am.

Earlier in my career, I received a promotion of sorts, but was told my pay wouldn’t match the previous contractors as I was younger. I looked too young. I seemed too young. I lacked ‘life experience’. It’s bullshit really.

And so I’ve put it to the test.  If I dress maturely and wear reading glasses? People treat me completely differently. They actually take me seriously. It’s remarkable.

Luckily my age seems to be catching up with me. My face is now less round, my cheeks less rosy, and I no longer have the starry eyed look of youth. I in fact pass off as a semi-mature adult. It’s a bit weird. While I’m not sure I’m completely happy with this, in terms of work it’s probably good thing. But I’ll forever be a Peter Pan at heart.

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