Things I Wish I’d Known About Men When I Was 20

Sleepwear will always be taken as flirty by boys.

Yep, even the crappy stuff you actually sleep in. In “Misery”, when Annie Wilkes came into the bedroom wearing the dressing gown with gravy all up one sleeve, swinging an axe, there was a small, tiny part of Paul Sheldon that thought, “Showtime.”

When a man truly loves you, you can’t mess it up.

When he doesn’t, nothing can bring him around.

A man who insists on splitting the bill doesn’t fancy you.

Equality is for mingers, yo.

Adding “with you” on to his sentences tells you everything.

I’m not looking for anything serious, with you. I don’t feel like going out tonight, with you.

If you’re not his type, it’ll never work out.

Seriously, just walk away. He’ll think you look better from the back.

A man will never, ever, set you up with another man.

Even if he doesn’t fancy you now, he will hoard you like a prepper in case there’s a drought. Stop asking to meet that nice-sounding Simon. Never gonna happen.

You will never be as sexually powerful over men as you are at 20.

Stop dicking about at home. Get out there.

Men who love you want to fix your stuff.

He straps on a tool belt, you’re safe to book the reception.

When a man loves you, he thinks you’re the hottest woman alive.

Even if all his friends can’t look at your face on a full stomach. But…

He will suffer a moment of panic if his friends don’t fancy you.

The same panic you’ll feel when your friends do fancy him.

Every man has a signature dish.

Let me save you the agony: it’s a bowlful of self-taught mincey slop. Usually with chilli.

Men are clutter-blind.

The time you spend tidying your house for men would be far better spent opening a pension.

He wouldn’t notice if you wore the same outfit for 10 consecutive dates.

Test me.

Behind most male stupidity is a (misguided) desire not to hurt your feelings.

You can’t handle the truth.

His favourite outfit on you will always be a tight vest top.

Seriously, wear one to the wedding.

How to date without panic

“When love is not madness, it is not love,” – Pedro Calderon de la Barca.
“Sod that,” – Kate Taylor.


Do you ever feel that dating brings out the worst side of you?

The mixed-up, nervy side, that seems to fall apart under the slightest knock?

You’re usually pretty kickass in your everyday life, and can cope with most things that life hurls your way.

But then, you meet someone.

Someone sexy, funny, appealing, who adds something to your life. Almost overnight, you go from Boss to Basic.

I know I’ve written a million dating and relationship books, but dating was not effortless enjoyment for me until I learned a few lessons the hard way.

I spent most of my twenties analysing conversations, overthinking throwaway remarks, and looking for any possible sign that the man I was dating was losing interest.

I never entered a relationship wondering how much I liked the guy; I always, relentlessly, focussed like a laser on simply how much he liked me. And I’d plot his interest hourly, like the FTSE 500.

Because I was so neurotic, I always enjoyed myself most when I was with men I didn’t like.

Until I started liking them, and then fell to pieces.

These days, I’m a lot better. I’m happily married now, and I can go whole weeks – OK, hours – without scrolling back through a week’s worth of texts to check the last time my husband said anything mushy, and then marking it on my spreadsheet. (I’m kidding! Honest…)

How did I get better? These are the steps I took. I’m not saying they’re infallible, but they helped me. I don’t think you can cure this kind of neuroticism forever, by the way: I think some of us are just over-thinkers by nature. But you can calm it down. Here are my fixes:

Have a hobby

Something absorbing and complicated, in which you can lose yourself and stop thinking about Him.

My hobby was painting. Every time a man dumped me, I’d paint a picture. My house looked like the Tate.

Even better than a break-up hobby, though, is an ongoing hobby. Over-thinkers are often introverts, so we don’t throw ourselves into sociable hobbies, but we should: research has shown that people who meet once a week to pursue a shared interest are the happiest people around.

Can you play poker? Sing karaoke? Learn a language?


Boost yourself

Not with blustery positive statements and affirmations, though: with tangible achievements.

If you’re anything like me (God forbid), you’re your own Simon Cowell. Your standards for yourself are sky-high – far higher than for any bloke – and much of your self-doubt comes from failing to meet your own grade.

So, improve yourself. Lose weight, get qualifications, quit your crappy job, tidy your flat, get up earlier, drink less, save more…

Whatever it is that your Inner Voice keeps berating you for not doing, just do it. Shut that bitch up with your positive steps. Doubts will creep in still, but nothing like as strongly as before. And you’ll be less likely to keep pursuing unworthy men.


Never act on your fears

Dating neuroticism is like pre-menstrual tension: you never realise when you’re in its grip, until it’s too late.

You feel you’re being perfectly rational and sane, until you find yourself holding a blood-splattered knife, surrounded by screaming people.

When you’re in the middle of a dating panic attack, you will think you are making sense.

You’ll think he’s definitely lost interest, that you should just dump him, that you didn’t like him that much… You’ll think it’s strong to call him out on his bullshit, and that you’ll look impressive and brave if you throw your drink over him.

You won’t. You really won’t.

The best thing to do when you’re having a dating panic is NOTHING AT ALL. Put the phone down. Then pick it up and call your sanest, calmest friend.

Get an early night. Have a bath. Read a magazine.

Don’t stalk his social media, don’t ask him where things are headed, don’t call it all off.


If you’re meant to break up, you can break up in three days’ time. Just sleep on it. No sudden movements.


Do you, or a rational friend, have any no-fail panic-busters? Please share them with me (quick! I’m a worrier!) in the comments.


Kate Taylor

3 People Whose Dating Advice You Must Ignore

Your World-Weary Friend

You know the one I mean – she’s been online-dating since they invented it, has decorated her house with doomed-wedding gifts, and is always in the middle of a passionate relationship. You love her confidence and she’s always there for you, but… Does she actually know what she’s talking about? View Post

How to avoid being bookmarked

Bookmarking is when a guy (or a girl; but it’s usually guys) suggests meeting up on a certain day but then never follows up with a plan, leaving you hanging. It’s CRAZY annoying. But there is a cure, an easy cure. I’ll share it with you and together we’ll stamp this shiat out. View Post

How to tell if they’re The One in 3 minutes or less

I’ve never trusted long engagements. It doesn’t require 10 years of living together to know whether or not you can stand someone.

In fact, your first instincts about people are usually blindingly accurate, and only get diluted the more you blither about. Take my parents as an example – introduced by the first form of computer dating back in the 1960’s, they were engaged on the second date. They just knew. These days, that’s taken as a rash way to conduct emotional business. View Post

5 Types of Foreplay Women Can’t Stand

A recent survey of 2,300 women has shown women don’t really enjoy foreplay, far preferring a man to get on with the intercourse. Here’s why…

Women hate foreplay? Pah! False. Biologically, women need foreplay. Unlike men who exist in a constant state of sexual readiness – needing little more than a glimpse of your bra in the laundry basket to set them off – women take time to reach the “arousal” stage. What the women in the survey are really describing is Boreplay. This is a hideous sexual technique males have been practising for centuries. The following types of Boreplay are the passion killers that turn women from sighing sweetly to muttering, “Oh, just get on with it” – and tips on how to cure them. View Post