7 boyfriends later, this is what I learned

Two confessions:

1. I have dated a lot

2. I self-reflect all day, every day

The topic I reflect upon most are relationships- friendships, lovers, exes, parents, siblings- I analyse it all. People are so complex, difficult and fantastic all at once.

Being a serial dater has given me years of memories and experiences to reflect on and learn from. I know what you might be thinking- 7 boyfriends, what were you dating since you were 10?! No. All these boyfriends happened after I was 18 and I fell into each one by cosmic happenstance, like the guy I dated after he crashed my photo booth on a girls night out .

So what have I learned after years of dating men? Here are my top 5 relationship lessons:

1. TIMING IS EVERYTHING – It doesn’t matter if he is perfect, if you meet him the month before you are due to travel the world for a year then timing just wasn’t on your side. Don’t change your life plans for a man you just met either. If it was meant to be, you would have just arrived back after your travels and stumbled into him at the baggage carousel. Throwing away your dreams for anyone, man or otherwise, is not prioritising and giving weight to the true value of your aspirations.

2. HE IS NOT PSYCHIC- He never was nor will he ever be. I used to believe that true love meant that a man would understand you so well he would know the hidden implications of the phrase, “You can share the last slice of that brownie”. Now I realise how idiotic that was and instead I say, “I want the whole brownie but I’ll give you a bite. Maybe….” Then later, when you do say, “You can have the last slice.” He will instinctually know not to touch it.

3. EXPRESS YOURSELF- Find your voice. You are very much entitled to speak up when you are upset/disappointed/frustrated so long as you are being reasonable. How do you know if you should say something? Wait one minute. Breathe. Explain the situation to the sanity judge in your head. By this I mean, explain the situation as it happened as neutrally as possible. Tricky but do it. If the sanity judge still believes your case to be fair then you may proceed. If you don’t tell him how you feel then he won’t know and he will keep silently pissing you off and you will keep silently getting annoyed. And so the cycle goes! If he breaks up with you for voicing your opinion, was the guy worth it in the first place? This isn’t the 50s. Women express yourself!

4. KNOW WHEN TO MOVE ON- The amount of times I have not moved on and extended a relationship way past it’s due by date is an impressive 7/7. Yes- all 7 relationships I stayed in for a myriad of reasons- comfortability, peace, hope to change him. You know in your gut when it’s no longer right. For me it’s the moment he comes to kiss me and I internally flinch away. Get to know your own internal signs that are warning you: MOVE ON! GET OUT! IT’S OVER! and act upon them.

5. DON’T COMPARE- I know Rebecca’s boyfriend calls her twice  a day and Gisele’s boyfriend organised a sunset picnic but people talk about their relationships like they are Facebook- ignoring all the ugly bits. So naturally you will compare and assume that your boyfriend is useless and your relationship is in the toilet. I confess this is a hard habit to break and even in the beginning of my current relationship I found myself doing it. You know what the worst part of comparing is, your boyfriend knows you are doing it and as a result he feels  like he is not good enough. Do you know how hurtful it is to be indirectly told by someone you care and love that no matter what you do or say it’s not enough? Imagine being the person who makes someone you love feel like that.

House tour with Abigail Ahern

Abigail Ahern is a very in demand UK interior designer who recently created a range of home accessories as part of a collaboration with Debenhams. When Abigail is not busy designing she is also teaching masterclasses at her design school, which are full of insider secrets and styling tips. The design school is hosted in Abigail’s house, which is featured in the pictures below. Buying furniture or home accessories from Abigail Ahern, her store is on Upper Street in Islington, is about carefully choosing investment pieces, which you know will elevate a room and start a conversation. I am particularly in-love with this bulldog lamp; rose gold against grey with a frilly lampshade on his head- I’ll take two! Bulldog Lamp

Questions about renting with Abigail 

1. How can you make a rental feel like home?

It’s a mind set thing. Just because you are living in a rental doesn’t mean that you need to furnish it like one. We lived in a rental in the States for 3 years and decorated it like we owned it. By that, I mean we furnished it with things we loved: accessories, rugs over bland carpets, plants and flowers and lots of art from flea markets and auction houses. The landlord wouldn’t let us bang in nails so we propped artwork everywhere!

2. What design tip would you give to renters?

To make it as personal as you possibly can. Soft furnishings are a decorator’s best friend – they transform rooms from drab to fab. Cushions wake up a sofa, as do throws. Vases, candles, trays – all the small stuff that you put on mantles, consoles and tables – make the hugest difference. The biggest tip I can give is to create layers – the more layers you have in a room, the more intriguing it will look!

3. How can you make the biggest impact to your flat/home without changing the structure?

Colour is the biggest, cheapest, most transformative thing you can do. If you can’t paint the walls, do what I did and paint huge great canvases in fabulous hues and prop throughout the pad. Plump for accessories in some high voltage jolts of colour – you need hues that tantalise the eye. After that, re-arrange the furniture and think out of the box when doing so. Move pieces into the centre of the room or angle them to make for a more cohesive stylish look. The best piece advice I can give is experiment. Unless you try it, you won’t know if it works or not!

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Abbi011_0251ss   Abbi004_0088ss   s Thanks for sharing pictures of your house- true inspiration for those who like a dark colour scheme and original artwork as a pop of colour. I see how Abigail has used her own advice to decorate her space so this is a designer who practices what she preaches!