Tag Archives: dating

Is it a bad idea to date someone at work?

Is dating someone at work a bad idea? Oh just where do I begin..

Is dating someone at work a bad idea? Oh just where do I begin..

A friend of mine needed an urgent catch up over coffee. She has just started a new job and one of bosses seems to be giving her a lot of attention.  “There is real chemistry there. Is it a bad idea to date someone at work?” I drew my palm away from my forehead and looked at her. “ I get it. When you are in your forties – and spending your life in the office – then feelings can develop.  But in my experience, dating a colleague is a bad idea.

I saw her smile drip and her heart sink.

I know yours has too.  

You wouldn’t be reading this blog unless you have a crush and were wondering whether to take it further.

I feel it is only right I declare my interests here.

I am very aware that people meet at work and live happily ever after.  My parents met at work and have just celebrated their ruby anniversary despite a considerable age difference.  

But as a HR professional, I have had to help employers deal with the inevitable mess. In many cases it has involved one party moving into a different role, or in some cases, out of the company completely.

I have also dated people at work over the years.  My single status should you something.

So let me break down the risk factor.

Absolute No-Go.  The Boss.

This goes both ways, I will add.

My friend had developed the classic crush on her boss – I will add he is married.  She dreams of her fairy-tale romance. I had to be harsh. As a new member of staff, if things turn sour I can guarantee she will be the one at risk of receiving her P45.   Even if things go well between then, gossip will mean that any well deserved promotion will be tainted by people saying she slept to the top.

She worked hard for her career and this role.  

It is not worth it.

Even if you are both single, a difference in seniority can cause all sorts of problems. If you are a senior member of staff, then avoid dating junior staff.  I have known plenty of people claim sexual harassment against their bosses because they have felt unable to ward off unwanted advances.

The only way it is slightly forgivable is if the ‘boss’ concerned is responsible for a completely different department, and in a different building, or preferably in another part of the country.

Absolute No-Go.  The Married colleague.

When marriages go wrong, it is natural to turn to colleagues for support.  Hell – some of my best friends are former colleagues. Sometimes those friendships, especially fuelled by alcohol at the the office do, turn into something more steamy.

But here is my considered professional opinion.

This is a f*cking terrible idea.

An affair with a married colleague is going to end – badly.  Maybe her husband is neglectful and the spark has gone. Maybe he is sleeping on the sofa whilst he sorts his own place out.

Not your problem.

In both these examples, at best neither of these people are ready for a fulfilling relationship. At worse they are spinning you a yarn.  If you are in it for the long haul you will end up hurt and have to continue working with them.

Maybe you want some casual fun too. Good for you. I am not changing my advice. Get on Tinder.  I have known plenty of people having to fend off angry wives at the gates of the office car park because she found the sexy texts you have been exchanging.

Your colleagues? It depends.

Classic lawyer speak. I know.

Whilst you may have found your prince or princess at work – the truth is many relationships fail even when you both have the best of intentions. Certainly, there is less risk if you are in different departments or even at the other end of the office.

I think we can all be clear on the possible fall out – it is why many companies have a policy against relationships at work.  Plus there is the gossip and comments from others. I will let this article spell it out for you.

The difficulty with romance at work is that your crush may be heavily influenced by something called ‘vicinity attraction’.  As in you start to catch feelings because you are spending hours a day with someone who shares your mutual hatred of the Monday morning meeting.  

Do you really have common values and interests?

All I can say is if you have a crush on someone – get to know them as friends first.

I dated an office hottie once. The kind of guy that caused other women to swoon when he walked into the room and all the men wanted to be his best friend.  Needless to say I was quite taken aback when he declared his interest in me.

So we went for a drink.  A drink lead to a few evenings together to feel out the possibility of something more.  He was a total gentleman.

But we had nothing in common outside of work.   

The truth is the best way to meet someone is to get out and enjoy your life by indulging your own interests.  Look to meet new people and expand your horizons. 39% of people meet their significant others through friends.

It truly is  best way to find your soulmate.

So book a few days off work and throw yourself into your hobbies and interests.

Did you find yourself daydreaming about your colleague now?

I didn’t think so.

Cuffing Season: The Survival Guide for Singles.

Brace yourselves. Its cuffing season and annoying couples are everywhere.

Brace yourselves. Its cuffing season and annoying couples are everywhere.

I love autumn.  Out come the chunky knits, long boots and I can kick at the fallen leaves whilst drinking my pumpkin spice latte.  But it also brings another horror alongside Halloween; Loved up couples are f*cking everywhere. Its cuffing season and if you are Single AF like me then you need a survival guide to get through it.

To the uninitiated, cuffing season is a phrase used to describe that time of year where our biological hardwiring makes us want to settle down and find a significant other.

It’s really is a thing.

Everywhere, newly ‘cuffed’ couples are changing their relationship status on Facebook and looking at each other with that dewy eyed look of love, and taking cute couple-y pictures.

 Why am I so bitter?  

Because I am uncuffed, and the person I want to be cuffed to, after telling me he did not want anything serious  is  now cuffed to someone else. Facebook status and all.  FML.

I am perfectly prepared to accept the fact that my laments as a singleton are borne out of a deep desire to be with my one true love.  But hey, I deal with my pain with humour m’kay.

The reality is that despite the thousands of apps and dating sites,  it can be difficult to find the right person. Just before Halloween my friend, Natalie, called me in floods of tears having been unceremoniously dumped by a man I was convinced was going to propose to her.

I took my resentment out on cuffed up couples on the dance floor at Ultimate Power. Everytime they got in our way with their kissing and squeezing of each others butts  I walloped them over the head with an inflatable microphone.  Fortunately, they were so into each other no one hit me back.

Cuffing season also brings the desperate and needy to your door.

 I have been online dating for a while and recent weeks saw me hit record numbers of messages and likes from various men.  I chatted to a few but the desperation was evident. It got creepy. From the guy photo-shopping pictures of me to the one talking about meeting his family and going on holiday before we had even met.  I decided that being single is better than cosying up to the insides of a body bag.

So I was left with one option.  I had to choose to be happy and in love with life.

Whether I was cuffed or not.

So I needed a plan.

Be grateful for everything you do have.

Be grateful for everything you do have.

Cuffing Season Survival Tip #1: Take stock of what you DO have.

If you are reluctantly single, it can be easy to focus on the one thing you lack: A relationship.   Law of attraction principles state what you focus on brings more of the same. So if you focus on your lack of a relationship you will forever remain single. It figures.  Even if you don’t buy into The Secret and all that.  Focusing on what you lack rather than what you have makes you miserable.

So I decided I needed to shift my focus from being single to all the areas where things are going extraordinary well.

If you live in Manchester, with its relatively low cost of living and have a good job, you can have a great life.  For example, I live in a stunning apartment in media city, enjoy my work as a lawyer, have a side hustle as a blogger and novelist, travel when I want and enjoy a hosting a variety of activities with Social Circle.  I look better than I have ever done and I am fit and healthy. Any of those things could be taken from me at a moments notice.

So its wise to look at your life with gratitude and not focus on the things you don’t have.

Because really, being single does not prevent me from the privilege of having a good quality life.  

Word from the wise.  If you are not happy with any aspect of your life- apart from being single – then it makes sense to deal with that area.

Work on giving yourself a rich and fulfilling life and indulge your interests.  Start that fitness regime, start writing that book, learn cake decorating, plan your travels. You don’t need to wait to share your interests with your perfect someone. In fact being single is the perfect time to try all those things you always wanted to try.

Spending time with friends & family in nature is good for the soul.

Spending time with friends & family in nature is good for the soul.

Cuffing Season Survival Tip #2: Focus on Friends and Family.

One of the reasons being single can be hard at times is that we are social creatures by nature.  There is a wealth of evidence to suggest those with strong social networks live longer.

But you don’t need a romantic relationship to enjoy the health benefits.  

The great thing about autumn and winter is the opportunity to connect with friends and family. 

Football season has brought with it the opportunity to spend time with my dad and go to my first football match. I am not a football fan, but I love my dad and will relish the time spent with him. Hey I may even enjoy it!    I met up with new friends to go walking in Heaton Park and enjoyed a vegan picnic. Both allowed me to take part in important parts of my friends and families lives and expand my own horizons.

FYI spending time in nature is great for the soul. Why not join me for a jaunt in Styal Woods?

So go out with friends to a film or even join your fellow single social circlers in laughing at how  awful dating can by joining us for True Dating Stories.  If you are watching the pennies ahead of Christmas check out last weeks blog for Socialising on a Shoestring.

But if all that activity is not beating the Singletons blues, then you need the ultimate antidote to loneliness.

Single? You got to Love yourself baby.

Single? You got to Love yourself baby.

Cuffing Season Survival Tip # 3: Love Yourself.

I am perfectly aware that you have just rolled your eyes at this bit.

I do too every time I see this advice.

Why ?

Because what does that actually f*cking mean? 

I wasn’t sure myself. Not really.  

Which is why I was chasing after love externally.  I didn’t know how it felt to love yourself.

I have been breaking through some bad habits with hypnosis and came across a download called ‘How to love Yourself’ .   It is amazing!

In essence, loving yourself involves having a relationship with yourself that you would envisage with another.  One that is fulfilling and playful where you are loyal and kind to yourself.  Be compassionate if you do fall back into bad habits. Apologise if you do criticise yourself too harshly. You are whole and unique regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not.

It’s amazing how such a simple shift in mindset has a profound effect on my mood and the way I go about my life.   I am now starting the day with the thought;

What is the most loving thing I can do for myself today?

Here is what that looks like in practice.

  • I went to the gym, and I have had my hair done,  because those things felt good.
  • De-cluttering my apartment.  Not because anyone may drop around – although they do! – but because I value how good I feel when everything is tidy.
  • Saying ‘No’ to needless expenditure because I am now focused on my long term financial security.
  • Dealing with the pile of paperwork regarding taxes I have been ignoring for months.
  • I gave myself a genuine compliment when I looked in the mirror.
  • Buying books on politics  because I am interested in the subject.

Now previously, I may have forced myself to do those things because it looks good on my relationship CV, but not really immersed myself in them.  My motivation to find a relationship was so strong, I was ignoring how much I enjoyed those activities.  I have started to recognise little acts of self-love – such as buying myself flowers or having a lazy lie in – rather than feel guilty about it. 

In short, I was putting the prospect of a relationship before myself.

Not healthy.  

This was also the real source of my pain and angst at being single.

So trust me on this. Regardless of your age, gender, ethnicity or current relationship status.

Learn to Love yourself.  It is the only way to survive and thrive if you are single.

Want to meet new people in Manchester? I did and my life changed for the better.

 

Social Circle celebrated 10 years of introducing friends in 2017.

Over 10 years ago, I found myself alone in Manchester after my life and marriage fell apart. I took the first job I could.  I was a divorced 30-something father-of-two in a strange city with no friends locally. I missed company on a weekend. I realised that had to change and I needed to get out there and meet new people. 

My days of picking up strangers in a club were long behind me. I wanted something meaningful.  Something real that happened naturally. Even today, the large majority of people find their significant others through friends. I decided my social life needed a boost.

I told myself that whatever was meant for me, whether it be love or friendship, would not pass me by.

I set up dating profiles on every website going.   I even downloaded those apps and got swiping. But what could I bring to the table?  All work and no play made for awkward and dull conversations and my profile was like every other out there.  I got tired quickly of it all. I am a romantic at heart and believe that a good relationship starts naturally, without pressure, between friends sharing mutual interests.  

So I joined existing social groups. But  they were lacking in so many ways.  I could not find a group that suited my needs as a thirty-something.  It was either boozy nights out for students, gentle health walks for silver-haired retirees or clubs for semi-pro runners.  Come Friday, after a busy week at work, I just wanted fun on my doorstep with people who had similar interests to me. I did not want to be stuck to doing one thing on one night. I wanted my social calendar to work around me.

There had to be more people like me? Right?  Surely other singles were looking to meet new people?

Fortunately my hunch was correct.  Before long I had found other funny, genuine and smart men and women who had also experienced a major life change and wanted to meet new people – but didn’t know where to start.

 A pint at the Slug and Lettuce  turned into hiking adventures, meals out at restaurants and evenings at local comedy clubs.  I found there was always a new friend willing to join me at the cinema or share a laugh at the Frog and Bucket. As my social circle grew, so did my confidence. I found I wanted to try more events as my new friends introduced me to their friends.

It turned out I was doing everyone a favour by starting Social Circle.

 We all want to try something new, but we are often time-poor or exhausted from work (or both!) to organise anything ourselves.  Word soon got around that you could just book an event and turn up. I went from Billy-no-mates to always being the centre of attention at parties. I always had offers of dates.   After all, I seemed like a fun and interesting guy who found it easy to meet new friends!

Soon I had built an action packed calendar with events taking place at top Manchester Venues every night of the week and lots of new people joining us.  People, just like me and you. Soon I had to recruit a team of  hosts to make sure each event ran smoothly and that everyone got a warm welcome.  Of course, all our hosts are also members so know exactly what it is like to be a nervous newbie.

Yet, I am proud to say that after all this time, I am still close friends with the people who took a chance on having a drink with a stranger on a Friday night.

In fact it was one of my Social Circle friends,  who suggested that I organise a weekend away for Social Circle to Barcelona.   It just so happened that a new member Louise, decided that she would book the trip.  It was love at first sight and 2012 she became my wife.

Steve and Louise on their Wedding Day. A Social Circle Success Story!

Who knew that within years after turning up to my first event, that I would have a thriving business,  great friends and have met the love of my life?

So take a chance and step out there.  You never know where it may lead.

Happily Single, or Desperately Seeking Someone?

 

Single and Searching? But what for exactly?

I have lost count of the amount of friends have told me that they ‘envy’ my freedom as a single woman.  ‘Oh to be single again’ my friend Becky laments as she feeds her rosy cheeked toddler. “ You can go where you want, when you want, have long lie-ins on a Sunday and no in-laws.”My colleague, Sarah, tells me. “After 15 years with the same man I would love to be single again, do my own thing. You are so lucky

Sure, there are times where being single is great.  I have travelled to exciting places, I have my own routine and can spend time with who I like – even if that is just me, myself and my favourite movie at times.   I genuinely am having the time of my life and I imagine the increasing population of singletons in the UK would agree.  Research also confirms I am on track for a longer, more fulfilling life as a single pringle than my married counterparts.

But let’s face it. Sometimes it just sucks to be flying solo.

I want to share all these great experiences with someone special. I want someone who loves me exactly who I am, just like Mark Darcy did with Bridget Jones (even if it did take ten years and having a child for him to commit.) Dammit give me my happily ever after – even if I am influenced by generations of societal conditioning. But hey I am not the only one, the online dating industry is booming with almost half of all singles trying to find their match online.  So much for the single life being the best life.

The advice you get when you are single and searching varies from the  well-meaning to the genuinely disturbing.  If I had a pound for every time someone told me ‘it will happen when you least expect it’ I could afford my next bucket-list trip without relying on my credit card.

Fortunately for you, I have sifted through all the bullsh*t to find bring you some great advice that will both increase your happiness regardless of relationship status, and hopefully introduce you to the love of your life.

Live Life in the Moment.

My four years as a single woman have been some of the best in my life.  However, the trouble with single life – for those who aim to be out of it – is that one never knows when it might end.   I say ‘trouble’, but it is also one of its many highlights. For, really, there is nothing like stepping on a plane and finding your single self upgraded to first class and sat next to a handsome stranger like I did in 2016. One thing is for sure, time will pass whether you are sat in your apartment block tower wishing your prince (or princess) will come, or whether you are skinny dipping with strangers in the Seychelles.  So relax and enjoy life without worrying what the future holds. If you do happen to end up coupled-up, these are the days you will look back on with nostalgia. 

Be Uniquely You

The best thing about being single is that you can take time to do some soul-searching and make decisions about your own long-term happiness.  It is those major decisions which tell us which relationships continue to serve us, and which are holding us back. For example, I am glad I took time to rediscover my love of travel and it took guts to book holidays without my friends at first. However, when I went searching for trips that suited my interests, rather than appeasing my beach-loving girlfriends, it opened up new friendships with people  who are just like me.

I also kicked a few toxic habits (and people) despite protests from my former friends who had done their best to discourage me from doing such crazy things as going to the gym regularly and eating well in my pursuit to be healthy and happy. I would like to think that living my life my way has built the foundations for a great relationship with a kindred spirit, rather than having to settle. Either way, choosing to set sail by my own star, rather than someone else’s, has lead to a new found confidence and fulfilment – which I am told are very attractive qualities.

Create a Dazzling Social Life.

Socialising can be a double-edged sword unless you do it right.  On one hand, if all you do is hang around with the same married couples you are rarely going to meet anyone new.  If all you do is swipe right on Tinder then you are just going to end up on more dates with little to talk about other than Love Island.

So how do you build a social life that will make you look fun and interesting and introduces you to potential partners?

I found by joining a social group that offered a diverse range of activities locally suited me down to the ground.    I found a great bunch of people to act as my wing-women (and men) as I flirted my way across the dance floor, and to drag me a few hungover miles around Cheshire the following day.  Soon, my weekends were full of fun and I was planning holidays all over Europe with my new found friends.  My social life has benefited more than my love life.  When I was interviewed for my dream job at a Times 100 company, my dazzling social life and varied interests was what landed me the job.  After all, I seemed fun and interesting compared to the usual legal types.

A little savvy research from local  Relationship Coach and Author, Sam Owen, in her article ‘What your social circle says about you‘   suggests that if we keep our ‘ideal self’ in mind when socialising we will soon begin to attract people and experiences that reflect our ideals. Like attracts Like after all.  For me, this involved stepping outside my usual social circle, and comfort zone, by going to places and events that appealed to my new found sense of self.

As Sam sagely says:

The people we surround ourselves with impact virtually every aspect of our life.  Is it time to think about what your circle says about you and what it’s doing to you and your chances of success, health and happiness?

3 Steps to Making Resolutions that Matter.

Whilst we may collectively roll our eyes at every ‘New Year, New Me’ pledge that we see on Social Media, there is something about a new year that inspires us to take action to become better people.  

Whether we want to get fit and healthy, super-charge our dating life by meeting new people or save more, the future vision of a happier version of ourselves can lure us into making resolutions. Of course, there is also the temptation of parting with your hard-earned cash to join in the latest wonder diet/dating site/get rich-quick scheme.  Yet research shows that only 8% will actually stick to their resolutions.  

So let us show you how you can make 2018 your best-ever year, with our tried-and-tested approach.  

Take a good hard look at your life.

Eeek! Whilst this sounds ominous, it is not as scary as it sounds.  This is about figuring out where you want to be, and knowing where you are now.  An annual appraisal of your life, if you like.  We suggest you break down the areas of your life into sections such as career, finances, health and fitness, hobbies, your everyday environment, your social life, relationships and personal development. Now rate your happiness in each of those areas with 1 being extremely unhappy to 10 being ultimate happiness.  It helps if you write a few lines which describe what life in each is like now, and what your 10/10 life would look like, e.g.  

The Vision:  I am in a happy and loving relationship with someone who has a good sense of humour and loves local history and hiking as much as I do.

Now: I am single and have not had much luck with dating sites.  I would like to get out more but my friends don’t share my interests.  3 out of 10.

There are two reasons we suggest this approach.  Firstly, creating a vision for your future is key to success. Secondly, aiming to improve your happiness score in each area is likely to give you a realistic goal to focus on.  Even if reaching your ultimate goal takes longer than a year, a small increase in satisfaction in an area will give you a lasting sense of achievement.

Prioritise Your Goals.

Now you have completed your Life Appraisal it is time to look at which areas to focus on.  The reality is that you don’t have an infinite amount of time or money to spend chasing your dream life.  Instead, look at the areas that are causing you the most unhappiness and commit to focusing on those areas first.

Why?

Well put simply, because if certain aspects of your life are making you miserable then ultimately it will drain your energy away from your resolutions.  You will not feel like hitting the gym if your finances are keeping you awake at night.  You will bore potential dates if you give them a 20 minute monologue of reasons you hate your boss. Drinking 8 glasses of water a day will not help you feel better about the damp-encrusted flat you are living in.

Even if you are happy with life overall, choosing no more than three areas to focus on will take the pressure off you.  Your life is not a complete disaster, and you are perfectly lovely the way that you are.  Just focus on a few areas of your life where you really want to see a difference. Remember, committing to a resolution is about a better and happier life for YOU. So there is no need to go for broke on this ‘New Me’ malarkey.  

If you are clever about it, you may even find creative ways of working on multiple goals at the same time. For example, if you want to save cash, and meet new like-minded people then you may want to look at how to enjoy 150 social and leisure activities in Manchester every month for as little as £19.99 a month

Build Good Habits.

Now you have the areas of life you want to work on, and your vision for the future, you need to put in place some habits that you can build into your life and commit to. It is the small  changes to everyday habits that lead to success, rather than relying on willpower alone.  So instead of challenging yourself to ‘lose a stone in a fortnight’, why not commit to exercising 3 times a week and put it in your diary. If you want to travel more then work out a budget and commit to putting money aside every week so you can afford some fun weekends away.  Before you know it, you will have reached your goal and developed the habits to make it a change that lasts a lifetime. Sounds like a good plan to us.   

So let’s look back at our lovelorn hiker.  What good habits could they put in place?

  • Go on weekly local history walks and countryside hikes to meet new  people.
  • Go  to Comedy Nights in Manchester at least twice a month. I may stand a better chance of finding the love of my life if we are laughing at the same jokes!
  • Join Social Circle  so I can plan the weeks social activities from my phone (and take advantage of the introductory offer-yippee)

If you take this approach to building your dream life, we can guarantee that in January 2019 you will be happier and more fulfilled than you are now.  So what areas of your life will you be working on in 2018? Do tell us and share your goals in the comment box below.