What's your brand?

IF YOU’RE single – and looking to change that – the question you have to ask yourself in 2018 is: am  I a marketable commodity?

Everything is about branding these days, including dating. Think about Apple, Google, Netflix, Toyota, or even Vegemite. It’s all about target demographic, clever catchwords, slick presentation and product development. Yes, you are nothing without a comprehensive and evolving sales plan. What worked for you at 25 won’t work for you at 45 and what worked for you in the 1990s won’t work for you in 2018.

If you want to move the merchandise, you have to capture your sector of the market and, to do that, you have to work out who you are and who you appeal to. If the answer is no-one, I suggest you move countries. Remember the character in Love Actually who worked out he was just a British guy who should be in the United States if he wanted to score the action he was hankering after?

So where to start … go into any online dating site and you will find a variety of adjectives used to categorise potentials. There’s sporty, bubbly, attractive, outdoorsy, romantic, social, sincere, active, happy and much, much more. Correspondingly, there is a long list of what said singles are seeking in others – fit, active, slim, happy, curious, kind, easy going and so on.

In considering your own self-advertisement, don’t get too bogged down with truth in advertising. There is no place for that here. Have you ever seen Mr Wrong describe himself as “insecure, middle-aged guy who could afford to turn off the tv and get off the sofa is seeking a woman who enjoys cooking, cleaning and listening to complaints about ex-wife”? Dating ads and real estate ads have a lot in common, really.

That said, if you feel unable to indulge in the sort of ruthlessness involved in acquiring a date or a mate in our wow-look-at-this-shiny-new-thing society and economy, then enlist help.

While you may see yourself as a slightly overweight drama queen who can’t balance a cheque book but does a mean macaroni cheese, your best friend may be able to translate this into voluptuous, sensitive Earth mother and gourmet cook. Ditto the man who has recently been bankrupted by a divorce settlement and finds himself thrown back into the field with a ute, a dog, and a fold-out bed may be a flexible, non-materialistic guy who enjoys sunsets, walks in the park and long drives…

As for myself, a commitment phobe with an anxious rescue dog, two mortgages, a bad back and a penchant for choosy emotionally damaged, complex men,  I believe I could best be described thus: “financially independent, sexy, single woman who loves animals, seeks thoughtful, sensitive guy for gentle walks and couch surfing”.

Now you’re thinking right?


The Office Party

IT’S that time of the year again when every single woman asks – is the Christmas party the right time to hit on the hot guy at the office?

Life if full of curly questions for the unpaired and lust-driven.

Muscles, good looks, dazzling smile, cute butt… all those things you try not to notice the rest of the year suddenly become seductively apparent over free alcohol, salt and vinegar crisps and bad sausage rolls.

You both find yourselves reaching for the saveloys – awkward – at the same time; or you catch his eye and he gives you a wink, or the come on, after he’s had a couple of beers.

You discover you have things in common – what, you like tennis/Trivial Pursuit/Brooklyn 99 too? No way! He invites you to take a closer look at the first aid room or the stationery supply office.

It all seems meant to be, kind of.

But stop! It’s not too late to spare yourself months of cringeworthy embarrassment or stomach-churning heartache. What am I talking about? I’m talking about having to see this guy in the office, every single day of your working life, after you’ve broken up, until one of you leaves the company or dies.

Running into him in the lunch room  when you’re both reaching for a kitchen knife - awkward; seeing him yakking it up with the cute office junior – barf; listening to another one of his boring jokes – oh my God; queueing behind him at the photocopier – you thought his butt was cute, humph!

Despite these drawbacks, a survey of American professionals by vault.com found that more than half had taken part in an office romance.

Forty two per cent said they had an ongoing, casual relationship with a co-worker; 36 per cent said they’d had a “random office hook-up;” 29 per cent had been in a serious, long-term relationship; and 16 per cent had met their spouse or partner at work.

Did you read that last statistic? That means you have an 84 per cent chance of it tanking before you get a commitment.

Sure, it may seem tempting, especially after one too many chardonnays. But you’ve been warned.

Love me, love my dog

Much is written about blending families or mixing your children with his. 
Where’s the advice on blending fur kids?
With the rate at which single women are acquiring dogs or cats rising even faster than teenage Chlamydia, this oversight definitely needs to be rectified. 
You’ll know what I’m talking about if you’ve watched his boxer chase your moggy around a corner, with its fur standing vertically; or his kelpie hump your little chiuhuahua.
Dr Harry, Dr Chris or Sigmund Freud come in!
If you have a pet you are attached to, the first box you are probably ticking off in a partner is “likes dogs” or “likes cats”.
And there’s a divide right there.
Is he/she a dog or a cat person? 
I love dogs. Big ones, small ones, young and old, sloppy and dirty; slobbery and goofy, loyal and loving, chasing balls or rolling around blissfully on freshly mown grass.
However, I am repulsed by the idea of cat litter and deal very badly with felines killing wildlife. So maybe I am not a cat person.
If you are, however, and your nearly toothless Siamese is forced to cohabitate with his  boisterous Staffordshire, whose idea of a good game is chase-the-old-cat-up-a-tree, I am not thinking wedded bliss.
My friend Wayne may offer a solution.
“I’m a dog person, she had a cat (or her cat had her as a servant) and it’s been an interesting exercise so far – no one has lost an eye. 
“At the start we split the house in half using a kiddy gate and kept the cat on one side and the dog on the other.”
Maybe he or she is neither a dog or a cat person and doesn’t really like animals, except grilled, fried or roasted – pass. 
But say you both agree that pets are good, your dogs/cats will mix and that you can, woof, live happily ever after.
Then there’s the whole issue of what you both consider appropriate care.
I couldn’t date anyone who kept a dog on a chain and never walked it. 
And someone who doesn’t think dogs should be inside, or sleep on the bed, probably wouldn’t want to date me, either.
Dog hair and dirt in the car, in the house and on my clothes – guilty, guilty, guilty.
Special food for the dog, yes. Fresh meat and bones, not tinned. 
Treats, yes. Car rides, beach outings, cuddles. Yes, yes, yes.
Which brings us to jealousy, on both sides.
I did have a dog that just didn’t like men, especially those that wanted to share my bed. He would stand on guard, teeth bared, until we locked him outside.
My current dog is much more man friendly, but definitely confused about who this strange guy may be and whether he has to give over rights to his favourite sofa/couch spots. 
So don’t just ask your would-be partner about their sexual or family history. 
Check their predilection for a budgie, a cat, a dog, or some kind of reptile and then decide if you can live not only with them but with their favourite feathered/furry/scaly friend. 


Breaking up is hard to do

Breaking up is hard to do. Obviously there’s the heartbreak, the STD tests, the long recriminations and the stalking. 
But, most traumatic of all, as everyone knows, is the division of possessions.
I’m not talking about the retro vinyl copy of a Joy Division album you gave the older man, or the CD from The Killers you gave the toy boy.
No, I’m talking about the really important stuff like the house, the pet and the Nicer Dicer. Maybe even the IKEA wine holder.
A survey by national law firm Slater & Gordon has found that real estate, money and personal effects including photographs are at the top of the list of items that are hardest to divide at the end of a relationship.
Next are pets, vehicles including cars and boats, and furniture.
When it comes to real estate, I totally get the angst, especially with the kind of capital gains you see in some of Australia’s most sought after residential areas. 
I also empathise with the cars/boats – what woman wants to part with that sporty little car that was, supposedly a gift, and what man wants to wave goodbye to the Holden or the Landcruiser, especially if he’s customised it, or the seaworthy sloop on which he went fishing and drank beer with the mates?
No wonder break ups get ugly. 
As for the pets, friends have told me that, when the time comes to say goodbye, it is a mutually purchased canine that causes the most heartache. 
Maybe we need Canine Court, a version of Family Court where the dog has to perform tricks, or take treats, off either party and see whom he is most responsive to.
Family lawyer Heather McKinnon adds that sentimental items often become symbols of the good times in the relationship and people are desperate to hang onto them.
She’s talking about the ticket stubs to the Madonna/Leonard Cohen/Pink concert of course, or the photographs of the two of you when it was bliss.
But, really, why get all worked up over photographs? You simply divide them and then cut him/her out if you feel so inclined. 
Rather, I think it is the miscellaneous things that are most likely to, if not cause you the most angst, then annoy you the most after you have parted ways.
Carly says: “My  ex requested he keep all the old Christmas lights and decorations made of plywood for the outside of the house and yard!”
Gypsy says her partner wanted the saddle, even though they have never owned a horse.
Alison says her lawyer told her one couple divided everything they had amicably until it came down to the garden hose, which ended up getting chopped up with an axe.
For Kate, it was the entire 11 season series of MASH that she wanted to keep her hands on while for Christine it was Frequent Flyer points.
Kate says her cousin and fiancé fought over a Persian rug and it went to court.
But perhaps Wilbury makes a good point when he says that what you most want to hang onto is your sanity. 
“That is one possession that needs to be sorted …”