Is the Unconventional Woman becoming the Short Term Dating Girl? a Dark Night of the Soul.

material girlmaterial girl2          August 31st

to N

I am afraid I am not the Unconventional Woman anymore.  I am becoming the short term dating girl.  It’s not what I intended to do, it’s just feeling a lack of hope in a future.  Even though I know the short term dating girl has no future, at least she has fun sometimes.  The Unconventional Woman believes in love, she waits for it, she reveals it like a  diamond in the rough.  The short term dating girl takes what she can get and leaves.  She knows she won’t that get much.  It would be a waste of time to wait for the plus to turn into a minus.

The commodity, like the sign, suffers from
metaphysical dichotomies. Its value, its truth,
lies in the social element. But this social
element is added on to its nature, to its matter,
and the social subordinates it as a lesser value,
indeed as nonvalue. Participation in society
requires that the body submit itself to a
specularization, a speculation, that transforms
it into a value-bearing object, a standardized
sign, an exchangeable signifier, a “likeness”
with reference to an authoritative model.
Commodity—a woman—is divided into two
irreconcilable “bodies”: her “natural body
and her socially valued, exchangeable body,
which is a particularly mimetic expression of
masculine values.
It means my only value is a mimetic of expression of masculine values.  This is why J. W.  thinks that only girls just out of adolescence are the right person…He can superimpose all the liberal minded traits like intellectual development, life experience, and self-knowledge.  His ability to sublimate and project is all he needs.
Ariel-the-little-mermaid-18036753-500-302 (1)
ariel7 (1)
 Ariel-and-Eric-classic-disney-33018938-598-362 (1)
It also means the ten years I spent curating my experiences, and becoming more aware of myself and what I wanted, overcoming challenges, finally getting into school and doing my masters…it was a minus…I have less time and money now, and I do not express masculine values,  I’m going on less than nil.  I didn’t read any feminism in my BA.  I honestly thought when I got to the ‘real world’ of the city that people would be so cosmopolitan and smart they would have moved past this old fashioned nonsense…so I let myself grow without reference to these structures, without even referencing economic structures.
When I asked 5 men to write profiles of me for my paper J. W. wrote the best profile…and I wrote I am afraid this is a mirror.. He’s just so good at telling people what they want to hear.  He never looks within himself, at least if he did, he’d never tell you what’s going on there.  He’s  a manipulator, and he’s after any one naive enough not to uncover it.  There are no good profiles.  There is no man in the world who could see or value my ‘natural’ body.          August 31st

to me

You are lovely.The truth is, your sample of men is shit, that’s why love doesn’t
compute in the way you expect.
Me, overly self-controlled to the point of being repressed, slightly
masochistic Austrian guy who is still in love with his ex-gf that he
drove away by being indecisive.J. W., a skinny English guy who preys on foreigners by using the
English charm, or on younger women cause they are the only ones who
think he is cool. Married once already to an unfit woman who quickly
got bored of him. Hasn’t learned anything ever.

Matthew,  the Irish banker who gets off by having sadistic sex with damaged
women. You had not much in common at all with him, and he
won’t miraculously become intellectual over night.

All three of us, stuck in the past, not yet in the future, just
behaving reckless but glossing it over with “charm”.

The truth is, you are fine, but we are all a bunch of total losers.

We are all blessed that you give us your friendship, but if I were
you, I would stay away romantically as far as I could from any of
these individuals. If they were old-fashioned they would already be
married, or marry you and you would live unhappily ever after with

As for your non-sense on the economic side of your self development,
respectfully and all out of the blue… I slap you hard in the face
that it hurts and push you against the wall and I choke you and then
kindly whisper into your ear: shut the fuck up, bitch. Because you are
talking mega-bullshit. You have made the absolute right decision to
live your life as you have. Your degree programme has now come to an
end, and its normal that you are anxious because of the uncertainty.
May I remind you of three things: Firstly, you really enjoy what you
are doing and in this respect you have already had a more fulfilled
life at your age of 30, than 98% of the world population will ever
have. Secondly, who knows how the next 60 years will turn out? Nobody
does. Whether you will make it or not, depends on luck – if you
continue trying. If you don’t try, then you can’t even hope for luck.
If you find you need to do something else for a while, so be it!
You’ll do something else, but you always have yourself and you’ve got
your brains and your boobies, what else do you need? Thirdly, don’t
honestly tell me you want to have the life of the other boring North
Carolinians?  That’s what I thought. Sorry that I had to slap you hard,
but you need a physical brain shake up. Your neurones of self
perception are misaligned.

The Week of Precarity


[29/08/2014 06:22:07]:  I am literally handing in my final paper, and putting my work in storage, thinking my mark is irrelevant if I don’t find some way to survive financially and stay in London, basically having a  panic attack…N has been evicted from his flat and goes on two weeks holiday, telling me that his company will leave him like a bad dream while he is away,  J. W. takes me to dinner, and I think it will make me feel better but I also mean to ask him if he would mind being a better friend to me by spending time with me occasionally and more often, and not dismissing everyone who actually does as unethical from his high socialist feminist perch at the Guardian.  He notifies me that he is trying to go on sabbatical and move to Japan  so he can date a 19 year old Japanese girl who  recently gained entry into the undergraduate school at the place where I just did my masters but cannot attend because her English is not good enough to meet the Goldsmiths IELTS standard. There are a lot of tears and feminist book throwing and I keep repeating I’m not the short term dating girl and it does not matter if that’s the way he sees me, and he says I’m making unfair generalizations. There was no generalization, I was talking about specific people and events aligning to destroy me.  I don’t sleep well.  I check my whatsapp at 5am.   Matthew, the Irish Banker, most stable and reasonable of exes, says good news, I’m an artist too.  I quit my job.

IMG_0819 IMG_0820

The Reality Checks

Sometimes when things are surreal and you feel like you’ve just been fed a shovelful of horseshit you talk to other women, and see things through their eyes.

“Oh my god, so she doesn’t even speak English, and she’s 19. And he thinks he likes her enough or connects with her enough to go to Japan and essentially quit his job…I’m thinking of some people on our course who barely speak English and they passed the requirements. So they can’t be that strict…That is so sad he needs so much ego boosting he needs to date a 19 year old who barely speak his language. He’s really insecure. Just leave him”

on language differences : “So their connection is telepathic!”

on age : “How sweet, he’ll watch her grow like a flower.”

The Flashbacks

He says to me , “I don’t know why you’re worried, my female colleagues aren’t..  they just figure they’ll get in on a second marriage.”

So he thinks his female colleagues, who he often admits are more educated and ambitious, and by extension myself and his peer group, should be shopping around for second marriages. Meanwhile he shops around foundation courses and finds whatever foreigner has started menstruating most recently. Then he gallantly proclaims “She’s the One, I just feel it!”

When I started to date the Irish Banker he told me “What you’re doing is really unconventional, usually it’s the man that’s more intellectually developed.”


Little Mermaid Research


A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend about next week’s blog post, and she mentioned a Garfunkel and Oates satire of the ‘little mermaid” strategy of dating.  I laughed because it was a familiar cultural undertone for me…not voiced but demonstrated by people’s actions.  Perhaps it was less subtly presented by  my poor mother’s  shunned request that I not be so open with dates so that I can ‘grow on them’ .  I couldn’t find the clip online but I was inspired to make illustrations for the next post with images from Disney’s little mermaid. Then I had to Google the little mermaid dating strategy to see if it was just a cultural undertone  or if it existed as  an overt  message.

I found this:

Well, you couldn’t really expect something uplifting from a website called “all women stalk,”  could you?  Already spoon fed to us by Disney when we were too young to deconstruct it, now re anthologized and  delivered to adults:  suggestions about the level of self abnegation a woman should employ in order to get into a relationship.  “Hey lady, I advise you to just shut up so he can project his fantasies on you, I mean be demure….and by the way this is all so he completely focuses on your body..your ‘objectness'” .  In the story the pressure is all on the Little Mermaid to make things work, and quickly.  Nobody really cares about her mind or cares to discover her awesome sea kingdom.

Practical strategies aside, I have to suspect the relationship wouldn’t be much of a relationship in this case (a mutual exchange between equal minds and bodies) …actually it would just be a shallow pool necessary to feed a man’s narcissism.

After all those cultural micro-aggressions who can blame the little mermaid’s friends for just straight drowning those horny sailors?

Dates #4 and #5, The Tall Irish Vegan, beat_ beat_ goes my <3


The Predate Vlog:  Dangerous Digital Romance

The Unconventional Woman is set to meet a tall vegan Irishman. He has been using whats app to message her every day since she asked him his opinion on the Bechdel test, and they’ve even managed a cheeky Skype beer. All the signs seems good, but you could look at things the other way and say all the signs are bad. Is intensive digital communication really a safe way to start a romantic intrigue….or doesn’t it get your comfort level way too high before first meeting? When he makes statements about dancing all night and reading in the long grass is he a true romantic, or a creepy Casanova?

Post First Impressions Vlog:  I feel at ease with you!

Anxiety caused by the pushiness of digital communications is wiped away by a totally calming first date presence. His low key manner might just provoke her to get a bit aggressive! Do you think Scrabble is romantic?

Post Date Denoument:  Has the romance bubble already burst?

Two to three dates in, the rubber always hits the road, There has been discussion of the Tall Irish Vegan going on a lot of business trips in September, and he says they should keep things low key until the end of the month. The Unconventional Woman has heard this story before: Dating someone right before you go on a long trip is more fun because it frees you of responsibility. She would like to believe he is coming back in October, but her doubts are provoked when the levels of his beloved digital communication sink to the bottom of the ocean.

Follow me, The Unconventional Woman, on Twitter @LeUnconventionl

Yourope Arte TV interview

Snapshot 1 (11-09-2014 08-45)

The Unconventional Woman reveals her face (!) for a TV interview about dating

Original text/ footage from Yourope Arte

On the day of the interview I remember still feeling tired from my course ending,  I got to the studio late, at lunch time, to set up things in a semi presentable manner.  That means I didn’t lunch, probably my first mistake.   I was really looking forward to the interview though.  I had already had a long chat with the journalist, Patricia, and she seemed excited about my emotional and intellectual angle on online dating.

One point I remember discussing on the phone:  In my twenties when I wasn’t that bothered about love and was just experimenting with the functional qualities of relationships it seemed liked it was pretty easy to get a boyfriend.  By the time I was 29 I knew more about what I wanted from relationships started feeling ready for something more serious, and I was hoping the guys that I met in their thirties would be more mature and capable of one.  That was not the case at all.  The more emotionally available I was the more people seemed invested in dating and discarding me.  When they pretended it was otherwise it was a  toxic pretense that damaged me by getting my hopes up.  My friends were getting married right and left to people they met in their late twenties, and I was getting left in the cold because I took my time and waited until I felt ready.  Patricia asked me why that was and I said it must be the responsibility…it doesn’t matter if I look young for my age, maybe it’s the idea that women are supposed to be thinking about marriage and kids between the ages of 30-35. They have to make a decision about that pretty soon, so they can’t just ‘hang out’ in a relationship. Patricia said she knew exactly what I was talking about.

We didn’t really mention that in the interview.  I was interviewed with my friend Sarah, She is in her mid twenties, and she’s a native Londoner who just got out of a long term relationship.  It came out how different our views on dating are!  I was explaining how I try to deconstruct the photos and messages..hoping to discern some traces of personality that make someone more than their level of physical appeal.  Patricia kept on asking me “That’s a very interesting intellectual view on things, but I want you talk about the fun aspect!”  I started to get exasperated. The fun aspect?  Well when I’m going through the process of sorting through potential matches with my friends we are laughing, but it’s very serious fun.  And honestly why don’t people think intellectual processes are fun? Meeting a gentleman with the intellectual and emotional capacity to love you, or even someone who wants to be a cool part of your social network, could change your life.  Meeting a jerk could damage you emotionally and put you off course for months, or years, and prevent you from meeting that caring gentleman.

Sarah gave the journalist more of the answer she was looking for, but first she complimented me on my ability to find interesting dates.   Then Sarah explained how her tastes were a bit more on the superficial end.  She enjoyed the swipe, and she said when friends were around she got even more of a giggle out of it.  She would get carried away and match people on accident.   Unlike me she really didn’t try to meet many of the people she matched with.  Sarah said she was more likely to date a friend of a friend.

Snapshot 2 (11-09-2014 08-56)

I said this is all totally indicative of Sarah’s background.  Sarah is a few years younger and she just got out of something big, so there’s no urgency.  Even though she is young, she is a native, so all her social networks are in place.  She feels confident that appropriate people will filter through her could also call this Sarah’s ‘circle of privilege’.  Where as I’ve just come here, so I’m trying to construct my network.  Sarah responded to this by mentioning it would be a big turn off if someone said they were new to London, and that she had no interest in allowing a date to become a friend later.  Sarah has enough friends apparently (lucky I’m one of them). Then she said that she felt women she knew of who actually went on dates “really like people”

I started to feel depressed after this.  You could see from Sarah’s comments the sort of glass walls that were keeping me from connecting to other people.

  • People in London do not want new friends outside of their existing networks
  • People are turned off if you are new to London.
  • Apparently “liking people” is a rare attribute
  • People mostly want to date people who are already in their social networks
  • Online dating is just for laughs
  • People using the most functional interface (Tinder) think of dating in a totally superficial way

Add to that my personal elements of precarity:

  • I only have 2.5 years to live in the UK because of my visa, unless I find a job or a partner that likes me enough to help me with my visa
  • I’m 30 and I know what I want.  I want commitment/a relationship
  • I’m an artist/student–I  don’t have much of a financial status to contribute to a partnership (yet)

You can see how the numbers are against me.  All the pain that I experienced individually  over the past two years because of men can be easily be predicted by my social and cultural context.  How could it be any other way?  Why would it change?  So it should make a lot of sense when I say  I wish I had the ‘privilege’ and the ‘right’ to love someone.

After this segment Patricia’s cameramen started to set up for an interview upstairs.  Sarah went and got a sandwich for me, while I tried to push a tear back into my eye so Patricia wouldn’t notice.  Then we went upstairs for the second part of the interview.  Patricia asked me how many people I’ve dated.  I was prepared for this, I told her already that I’ve  dated about 30 people in twelve months.  When people are shocked by this number I guess they don’t realize that its not as much as that I’m a serial dater as a serious romantic, Society has made rules about my identity that make it hard for me to get into a relationship, this is my only way to attempt hacking the systemAnd it’s funny, the numbers show that the rules have nothing to do with my physical appearance.

Snapshot 1 (07-09-2014 16-19)

The next thing Patricia asked me was about the jobs and identities of all the people I’ve dated.  I wasn’t prepared for that, and I was so exhausted  at this point my burnt brain was having trouble recalling more than 5 people.  I had to question whether the Unconventional Woman premise of connecting with a cross section of the matrix was realistic, or were most people going in the delete file?

Our final shot was a picture of me walking down the street near the university.  I felt like drifting down the sidewalk with my head down, nursing my inner turmoil.  I could play a feminist Raskolnikov about to go on a binge of ex-boyfriend murders, except there’d be no Sonia to save me.  Because if Sonia was a man what would his profession be?  Then they reminded me to smile.  Smile girl, signal your eternal availability, just keep waiting for your chance.  Yes, you must pretend you are a girl.

Cherry Picking

I met the criminologist at the tapas bar where I met N last year.  It was this night that  I was supposed to go dancing with Trasi at Scared to Dance.  She said she would get in touch if she felt she could make it,  but I didn’t hear from her.  So I was just sitting there in the tapas bar holding hands with N and staring into his  eyes over a Margarita… he said ‘don’t look at me like that’ but we kept looking.  I kissed his hand at some point.   It was this way of having intimacy without daring to have any intimacy…but it ended up being more powerful.   I remember going to the toilet there and discovering my skirt was absolutely drenched in blood… I was relieved that he didn’t notice, and rushed out of the bar to meet him before the waiter noticed the blood that was on the chair.  Later Trasi said she was trying to call me the whole time but the call wouldn’t  go through.

Hugging the criminologist goodbye I feel that’s it’s not a very good hug, and he’s just being polite.  I walk towards a pub in Stoke Newington.   J. W.  used to live there.  I find a shop with a lot of cards made by artists.. They have a book  by Sophie Calle, the artist who had 50 psychiatrists analyse the emails she got from her ex.    I am low on cash but I buy a card that reminds me of J. W.    It’s a happy orange lion that says  ‘Let’s Fuck It Up’   I remember J. W. saying ‘I’m sorry for fucking things up’ over and over.  It wouldn’t  be funny to  send  him the card would it?  I have to find someone to send the card to. 


I go to the pub, I feel a little less bad about my garden party when I see I’m the first unrelated person to show for the going away party of the happy couple.  I ask the sister if it’s a bit weird for someone to whatsapp  you pictures of themselves with a baby before the first date.   She says “You have to let me screen these people for you!   He’s Irish isn’t he?  I knew he looked Irish.”


 I’m getting my last half pint and I start talking to a Portuguese sound engineer at the bar.  We are talking for 20 minutes quite spontaneously, forgetting to order a drink  and ask each other’s names.  He’s cute.  Then he says something about a girlfriend.  He reminds me we should order a drink, I offer to pay, but he pays for me anyway.  We have a talk about the institution of marriage, which he doesn’t believe in, but he is marrying his Filipina girlfriend so she can come to England.  I’m trying to explain why I like it even though it’s part of the patriarchal concept of owning women.  It’s also like a promise protecting your partner from the rest of the affects of sexism on her body… saying that she is not a consumable discardable person.  But he says that she should know that anyway.   I’m thinking about N’s ex spending almost a decade with him without the piece of paper, never really feeling secure, and being disappointed in the end.  I think about all the times men have said all the nicest things to me…and they can still believe those things even, but it doesn’t have any effect on my relationship status or even whether they want to spend time with me…So I like the piece of paper…it’s something that’s outside of their usual system of bullshit.  Maybe it’s a problem of hearing more bullshit than truth.

We get kicked out of the garden, I lose him in the crowd.  I go back to the party table… I feel like I’m inarticulate and have nothing to say to these people.  Time to go home.

Then I made the mistake  of flirting with a Frenchman.


I am walking back to the station.  A guy  is walking  in that direction at the same time…and starts to talk to me.  I never do this, but he is cute, has a nice build, and seems age appropriate.  He starts to share cherries with me. He is French, from Bordeaux,  I tell him the rumor I have heard that ‘Frenchmen never quit’   and ask him if he likes French films.  He only watches Hollywood movies.  He becomes brave enough to place the cherries between my lips.  I start  being quite silly and dramatic about it,  getting a few twirls in..waltzing down the street, being fed cherries.  After several requests, I agree to have a drink with him, but then I will go home.  As we walk into the bar, I find out he is 29 and a manager at Nando’s in East Finchley.  I say ‘How old do you think I am?’  He says 20.  “Ha!” I say, “Yeah right!”

I have to show my license at in the door, but he doesn’t look.  I say, “No, how old do you think I am?”  He says he doesn’t care.

I tell him to buy me a Sex on the Beach.   We talk about education, family background.  No uni. that’s what I guessed. I ask him how he likes London.  I am actually hoping to hear stories of culture clash, but like with the films he disappoints me.  He says he’s happy here, and his family has moved here too.  He is asking me whether I’m Indian.  I explain that I’m only half, and I ask “Are the French racist?”  He says yes, and then it comes out that he is half Tunisian.  That’s interesting, and I never would have guessed it.   My drink is done,  I want to go home.

We walk to the station…..He’s actually telling  me that he’s hard …I’m thinking  geez, all  we did was have a drink.    Instead of kissing  me on the cheek he tries to hold me against himself.  I have faulty middle class reflexes. I say that’s not appropriate instead of screaming.  I run away.

Date #3, The Criminologist


The Predate Vlog

I am preparing to go on a date with a so called “crime researcher” (isn’t that just called a criminologist) who circumscribes his identity with cats and EDM music, even though he doesn’t own a cat. I am looking forward to finding out what it all means.

Post First Impressions

The struggle of a talkative person…In the moment she doesn’t realize she’s the only one making the conversation work. She might even be duped by a civil servant into thinking that he is interesting. Stop it with the Margaritas, please!

The Post Date Vlog

A shallow hug tips The Unconventional Woman off, and she starts to smell the bullshit. She’s particularly annoyed by his answer to the question of why the riots happened in London.

Follow me, The Unconventional Woman, on Twitter @LeUnconventionl

The Heteronormative Garden Party

The Boating Party Lunch I

 It takes a lot of effort and energy to maintenance friendships when you are single.  Most people don’t bother.   I have a lot of experience writing messages to friends:  would you like to go to this exhibition/ film/ club night/gig with me?  I often get turned down, or cancelled on at the last minute.  I have also listened to single lady friends complain that the only cohesive social group at the school I went to was a group of white men and their partners who mostly ignored the people outside of their heteronormative structures.   This is a doubly oppressive situation because as artists we know that most of our economic potential is in the social network we are able to generate for ourselves.   I have also heard single men complain that they have no one talk to about their feelings because they are not in the right space to have a partner or haven’t found one yet.   It seems like most people are aware that making heterosexuality the only way of relating is not healthy, but no one changes their behaviour.

I got the cast off my fractured wrist a few weeks ago, and decided that I will go against the flow once more.

  I plan a picnic in the beautiful Greenwich park near my home.  It is a London gem, but I know most of my friends don’t often have reason to go there.  It is also summer.   Most of my course mates not only haven’t seen each other for weeks, but will not be re-joining the course in the Fall because they are graduating.  I give two weeks’ notice and make a Facebook event.  I only invite a core group of 20 people, who I’ve had actually had good conversations and social experiences with.    I’m hoping that the smaller group will invite a higher level of social responsibility.  It seems like the idea is working.  10 people who live nearby say they will come, about 5 of which have partners.  I figure you only need 5 for a good picnic.  It’s mostly women, because this is art school.  I invite three more men personally and suggest they bring their single friends, considering the situation.

I send a reminder the day before and about 5 people cancel.. mostly single women.  I think of this in two ways:  The single women know what it’s like to be left alone, so they have enough consideration to cancel verbally, and the single women don’t know about the men I invited.   Later I find out that the couples just don’t show at all.  It’s as if people outside their heteronormative world don’t exist.  The men cancel at the last minute…. My personal connection with them has already been discoloured by the power imbalance of romantic rejection, and for one this is his way of newly rejecting me.

Not one person comes to my picnic.

I am sitting under a tree crying, eating my own food.  It is a glorious day, hot in the sunshine and just right in the shade.  I am surrounded by people in the park.  I text N.  He is one of the men who cancelled at the last minute.  He is too hung over to join, he made sure that he would be by staying out all night for no particular reason.  But he cares enough to call me and talk me through my feelings for over an hour.  He pretends that he is eating with me and the food I made for everyone is very good.  Finishing my food I go to the shop and buy some alcohol to dull my hurt feelings.   We are skyping in bed all day.. he feels too hung over to leave his bed mostly. At one point we talk about watching Magnolia together in his flat because I haven’t seen it before, but it is already too late and too far, and too much sexual tension for me to sleep over.

At around 2 am he says he’s going to tease me…like a teenage sadist.  He tells me that tomorrow he is going to make a breakfast for Elena and bring it to her flat, because she has had a concussion from her dog jumping on her.  I remember getting mugged last August. ..   A woman smashed  my head against the pavement repeatedly , but somehow I didn’t get a concussion.  No one visited me.   That was actually when J.W.  decided to dump me.   N has been talking about dumping  Elena for weeks because she wants to be in a relationship and he doesn’t.  He also talks about how she is controlling and can’t engage with him intellectually.  I feel  like no one will spend time with me unless they are planning to put their dick in me, and even when that happens, it’s like stamping a huge expiration date on your forehead.   I send a text:   sorry for being hysterical, I had a bad day.   It’s almost 4 in the morning and I’m still weeping. 

The next day I have the date with the Italian Underwear Designer.  My date is someone who will have a conversation with me without massive amounts of planning, social media, texting, and skype.  He’ll even pay for drinks.  I don’t feel that I’m in love, but I feel that I have some human dignity  and I am enjoying life.

Date #2 The Italian Underwear Designer


Predate Vlog:  Filipinas? Italians? The Internet is the super surface.

Stereotype, smereotype.  Naturally inquisitive, the Unconventional Woman tries to get things back on track after the identity discussion is started in all the wrong ways.  Secretly she fantasizes about pasta and wine.

Post First Impressions Update: Men’s Underwear

We’re having a lovely a conversation about our international experiences on a terrace with a bottle of wine….I can hardly get away to the loo for the video log before the bar closes!

Post Date Denoument: What are you looking for?

During a discussion of profile photos and the seven Greek words for love, the Unconventional Woman decides the underwear designer is ‘looking for something different’

You can follow The Unconventional Woman on Twitter @LeUnconventionl