Last week I caught up with the gorgeous Bella, and this week I had lunch with the lovely Naina. Both of these women are very different; their cultural backgrounds, their ages, occupations and their taste in men. The thing they have in common, other than their friendships with me, is that they both happen to be single right now.

I speak to a lot of people about dating, given the blog, and what always strikes me is that regardless of our age, sexual orientation or our backgrounds, dating is such a leveller. It’s a bloody jungle out there, people!

I never cease to be amazed by stories from the front line. I can’t believe some of the insane things that people say and do when out and about on dates…honestly!

Naina has been single for the past seven months. It’s taken her that long to launch herself into the dating arena after breaking up with her partner of 3 years. The reason for the breakup? He just couldn’t commit to living together. Oh, that and the fact that he wanted to become a Buddhist Monk…Yeah, that was a bit of a blow for her. He might have mentioned that earlier.

Interestingly enough, seven months down the track and he hasn’t become a monk. She on the other hand has bought herself a gorgeous apartment.

So last week end introverted Naina, went on two dates. High fives girlfriend!

The first was with the Wedding Singer. Quirky and in his 30’s, he seemed pretty impressed when she walked in. Before her first glass of wine had been served however, he was mapping out his life plan for her, telling her how much he liked professional women because they could keep working while he looked after their “little ones”…Ummm? She realised she was going to need a bottle, not a glass of wine. She had just met this guy and he was talking about them having children! He went on to discuss that older women he had dated had “womb ache”…actually it seemed to Naina that this guy simply wanted a baby mama, and as long as she ticked some boxes, anyone might do.

Which led her to the second date. She met up with blue collar guy for a coffee and when she arrived he was checking his phone and acting all aloof. When she greeted him she asked if he was checking Facebook which would be a reasonable assumption.

“No,” he informed her dryly, “I’m keeping my eye on the situation in the Ukraine.” Right…

Now he may have been feeling insecure that she is a lawyer and he is blue collar but Naina doesn’t give a toss about what people do for a living, as long as they’re employed and they’re compatible. Had it been an issue dude, why was she on a date with you?

He spent the entire date seemingly trying to cram in as many long words into sentences as he could, one supposes in an effort to show his intelligence. He wanted to talk about the philosophy of politics when really she just wanted to know what his hobbies were. Surely the philosophical conversation on first world politics could have waited for date number 2? In the end as he droned on, she flagged the waiter and ordered wine…a lot of wine.

When she told me about the date she had me in fits of laughter. It reminded me of the scene from the film Bridget Jones Diary when Bridget is trying to arm herself with witty banter to impress people.

One of the things she clings to is the situation in Chechnya – a subject she knew little about but thought sounded interesting when asking others for their opinion on the subject. Is the Ukraine is the new Chechnya for intelligent conversation on a date?

Bridget: So what do you think of the situation in Chechnya?
Daniel Cleaver: I couldn’t give a fuck, Jones.”

The next morning all Naina could think about, beside her total regret at having drunk too much and her pounding headache, was that she missed her ex. This is what I call the dating hangover.

She missed the intimacy and the sex. She missed hanging out with him and how comfortable she felt in his company. She felt that longing one feels when there is unfinished business. I’m really feeling for her. What they had shared was a lovely relationship – mutually respectful and honest. He didn’t want children and he didn’t want them to live together. After three years, they were at an impasse. While she nostalgically remembers only the good, the tough part is this. If they got back together would anything change? Would he still be hiding behind excuses of monkhood in order to keep her at arm’s length?

What Naina raised with me is that the Producer and I are a rarity and not the norm. She is of course right. The Producer proclaimed he didn’t want to be in a relationship. With me or anyone else. He’d been in long term relationships. He’d been married. He’d been hurt. It took 18 months of on again – off again sizzling attraction, rejection, great sex, a lot of laughter, a lot of tears and a 2 month breakup for him to come to the decision that he wanted to be in a relationship with me. It wasn’t an overnight decision. It was a thought out process. So I always feel hesitant to hold us up as the poster children for “reluctance turns to love” story. I think we are both lucky that it worked out this way.

Bella, my beautiful friend, had been seeing a man for over a year. Their time together was always great – good food, shared wine, lots of laughing and an ability to confide in one another. It’s not easy for Bella to share her heart, nor for any of us really. In the end, no matter how much she cared for him, the fact remained that he wasn’t willing to commit. In fact all she wanted was for him to be open to the possibility of where their relationship might lead. She never pressured him for more than that. That’s not her way. What they shared was real and easy. She was always her authentic self with him and that is a beautiful thing to share with another human.

The reality is that some people choose not to heal over their past baggage. They struggle to let go of the past enough to create a new future. Though I’m sure his feelings for Bella were very real, he was still sharing his life with the ghost of an ex-wife who haunted his present. He was willing to let a uniquely caring and supportive person go to keep his heart in chains.

Recently I was talking to a lovely friend who is twenty years my junior. She is dating a guy who is very reluctant to “label” what they share. He doesn’t want to be monogamous. This has been going on for some time and emotions and feelings are now very much in the mix. She wants a monogamous relationship, not surprisingly.

So recently before he went on a solo holiday, he told her they are indeed in a relationship…it’s just an “open relationship”! What the hell, dude! That right there is guy speak for “if I have an opportunity to screw someone else, I’m going to.” I know she thinks my love story with the Producer is like a little beacon of light for others who are dating commitment phobic men.

I always say this. If a man wants to commit, he will do so, but he needs to make the mental shift. He has to be ready. Loving you doesn’t mean he will agree to monogamy or commitment. Which is a tough gig when everything you share seems real and brilliant, but you always have that nagging doubt that when he’s out on a Friday night, it’s probably with another woman.

On the flip side, there are men all too eager to commit. One brilliant lifelong bestie found herself in this very situation. She met a nice professional man – it all seemed easy and lovely and things progressed rather quickly. It was like a whirlwind of meeting friends and their children meeting. Very quickly he wanted them to move into together and it occurred to her that while he was very committed to the idea of commitment, he was less concerned about building the foundations of the relationship they shared, getting to really know one another or spending quality time alone. In short, she just wasn’t feeling it and after some thought, she ended it which was the best thing for her.

Here is the upshot. Until someone proclaims it to be a relationship, it isn’t. Having said that it’s easier said than done letting go of someone you love even though they won’t commit. It takes loads of courage. We love with hope when we care about someone else.

I couldn’t have stepped back into this with the Inner City Producer had it been a knee jerk reaction to get back together. He thought long and hard about what he wanted and whether he could be in a relationship with me – the writer chick behind the picket fence raising teenagers. He weighed the pros and cons, as did I. We both had to be willing to take a risk. Loving each other helped to bring us back together but logic plays a part too.

Sometimes people are lucky. Two people meet and are both ready for a relationship. The planets and the moons align and it all falls into place. I know a guy who went through a tough divorce, played the field but when he met his current partner he proposed with months and they were married and had kids within a year. Case in point.

For some, the search continues. Always though, I think that as humans we all crave to love and be loved. That’s the reason people date even when it sometimes sucks! When you find that someone who is brilliant enough to share a relationship with, it’s a whole new journey with a whole new map to navigate!