Tag Archives: dating

Reframing The ‘F’ Word …

fattyIt’s weird.

I’m more likely to define myself as ‘fat’ than as ‘living with MS’.


I’ve struggled with weight gain since I was diagnosed back in 2012 – through a combination of medication, thyroid, stress and comfort eating.

I’m not going to lie, I put my chubby hands up to the last one.

I had a wonderful conversation with a friend on Monday and mentioned that I tell everyone I’m fat, almost as a matter of course. Why do I do this? I mean, they can see it; I probably fill their entire periphery vision in one fell swoop. I’m kinda hard to miss.

She asked me why I did this and I really had no explanation other than I’m so unused to being this size – I’m the biggest I’ve ever been – it’s almost a novelty. A curiosity. To use an unfortunate phrase, is it about getting the elephant in the room out the way?

MS is such a ‘normal’ part of my life now, but being this size isn’t.

I’ve tried to embrace this new body, but found out I really didn’t want to. And I don’t understand this. I’ve met incredible women over the years, through my travels and in the UK, who were far larger than me but happier. Celebrating and indulging wholeheartedly in life in a way I can’t imagine.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy, just miffed. More so as I have beautiful clothes hanging in my wardrobe that look a bit silly on me. But do they? Maybe I should stand a bit taller in the mirror and not give a damn about the spare tyre(s) and let my character, my inner essence, do the talking? Isn’t that what life is all about?

I watched an eye-opening episode of ‘First Dates’ this morning (I’m always up early and have ages to fill before work). There was a lovely guy, a tailor on Savile Row. He’d lost a lot of weight a couple of years before but was still conscious and a little overweight. The date went well although he mentioned his weight at every opportunity and you could see his lack of self esteem.

The result? His date thought he was wonderful, but his confidence issues were a turn off.

A great insight. But it got me worried about my potential dating advert, which was already dire:

40-something, divorced, one Teenager, one cat, have an incurable progressive illness – WLTM similar

And fat?

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I Like Long Walks On The Beach …

me… I also enjoy cosy nights in front of a log fire, watching a romantic dvd and snuggling up with the one I love, the snoogly-woogly peep.

Don’t we all?

Especially when we’re writing dating profiles. Is there anything worse?

My first attempt was at least honest:

Slightly, chubby, divorced 42 year old with stroppy Teenager and confused cat seeks soul mate. P.S. I have MS. Apply within.’

I didn’t post it.

Now I am of a certain age, and have been single since being brutally dumped when I was first diagnosed with MS, I think it would be kind of nice to have a Significant Other.

Someone to share a croissant and hot chocolate with? Maybe we could browse around a second-hand book store before linking hands and wandering to the nearest cafe. We would navigate the cobble-stones and laugh when I tripped. Again. We would exchange smug, knowing looks.

He would Understand. He would smile at my speech hiccups, when I swap consonants and slur (just a little). My Scottish accent would of course win him over. He would take my arm and guide me when he saw that I was weaving around like crazy.

I can picture him, rugged face, scarf (I know, weird, huh?), piercing eyes. If you find him, please let me know.

Back in the real world, I have read all the advice. First and most importantly, the majority of people meet the love of their lives in work. Last Thursday I was surrounded by nine men. I was quite overwhelmed at one point and had to take a Diet Coke break.

However. Four were scaffolders (all married), three were solar panel electricians (all married, one unhappily), two were plumbers (both married).

So that’s a no-go then.

Next piece of advice is, ‘talk and interact with everyone you meet, they may just surprise you!’

Erm, ok.

I went to the Co-Op and lurked around the steaks. Aha. A man. ‘Um, garlic butter or just, you know, butter?’ I asked, with an artfully-raised eyebrow. He scarpered. I was the strange person in the steak place. It’s come to this.

I slunk home, defeated.

I re-wrote my profile: ’42 (but don’t look it), divorced (happily), one Teenager and no cats. MS. Apply within.

So far, zero replies. But you never know?

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When MS Is Your ‘Significant Other’

datingBefore work one day this week, me and The Builder were busy slurping our McDonald’s coffees, nattering away.

We usually talk about screws, fixings, grout and such like. As you do.

But today, he was telling me all about his neighbour and his have-to-be-seen-to-be-believed dating adventures.

Apparently this neighbour has six women chasing him and has recently been proposed to. Gah.

I have no men chasing me and am sadly lacking in the Sorrento Engagement Experience.

This got me thinking.

Quite soon after MS popped up, my partner scarpered. And I’m quite glad, in hindsight.

But now, three years down the line, where does that leave me?

I was recently contacted by a TV  company. They were lovely; they enjoyed my book, liked what I was doing to raise awareness about MS and asked if I would like to take part in a dating show.

Well, my heart leapt. At last! I could find a croissant-eating academic with an interest in knitting. I was sold.


The email.

Thank you for expressing an interest in ‘Too Ugly For Love’.

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Dating. With MS.

GoslingSimone from Manchester is my guest blogger today – she’s just started blogging, so check it out here. She was diagnosed with MS in 2006:

Without boring you with details of my diagnosis, aged 30, steady relationship, wedding planned; I then found myself diagnosed and single aged 30 and 2 months. Those last two months were only because it took 6 weeks to track him down after he Usain Bolted away from the neurologist’s consulting room.

So, on top of the regime of injections, aches, needles, bladder nonsense, constant terror at an uncertain future – I also had to get back on my bike and ‘try to find a boyfriend’. *

After 2 years, hiding in my house, holding on tight as I held it together; persuasion from well-meaning friends persuaded me to date online to seek my Manchester Ryan Gosling who would be able to see past those two hated capitalised letters and see me. Guardian Soulmates seemed the place to start. Surely the men on there were pretty tolerant? They all said they were and had endless photos of themselves cuddling chimps and demonstrating kayaking heroics.

Reader, I have not the time to tell you about the horrors I endured. The sociopathic Greg Rusedski lookalike OR the mountain climbing freak who listened with tears in his eyes as I told him of my MS, then MADE me climb Mount Snowden ‘to prove to myself that the MS was no barrier’ and then dumped me the next day as he couldn’t face the prospect of spending his later life as a carer…

I decided that this woman could take no more. I would buy a cat (or rather, an animal with no fur due to allergies); I would stoically face my future alone. Then I received the email in my Soulmates inbox – ‘Mark is interested’. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single individual in possession of an online dating subscription must be in want of a new message. So I replied and we wrote to each other and he was a journalist – light and funny and clever and articulate. I hadn’t told him about my diagnosis but there was time yet and so we met up.

After an odd evening with a morose, half-drunk man, we reached 9pm, by which point he was looking mournfully into his ale and I was imagining what kind of turtle I would buy for company and whether it would cuddle me on winter nights.

I said, ‘Look, this isn’t working, is it – I”m going home.’

He grabbed my arm with tears in his eyes and then said, ‘you’d never be interested if you knew.’

‘Knew what?’ I almost shouted, trying to free my arm and also catch the attention of a member of bar staff.

‘I have MS’ he half shouted/half sobbed.

‘So do I’ – I said quietly.

I took my coat off and we talked non-stop for a further 4 hours.

Dating with MS is hard and complex and awkward and requires honesty, trust and bravery. However, there are moments that make you realise that we’re all dealing with our own crap and it is whether you are willing to start a journey with someone who brings an unwelcome companion to your new relationship.

Incidentally, the journalist guy was definitely NOT worth starting a journey with. Nothing to do with the MS, he was just a self-important heavy drinker with two over-indulged, long-haired cats.

*Mum’s advice every time we talked, for about two years…

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Would (Not) Like To Meet…

would like to meetTo cheer myself up at the weekends, I read the dating columns in the newspapers, especially the upmarket ones.

I also chortle over the birth announcements in The Times: Oscar-Theodore Chummingly-Wallop, a brother for Broccoli-Cressida and Seraphina-Arabella has a different ring to it than Kev, a brother for Chelsee and Kaycee.

My least favourite dating advert is the one that starts, ‘my secretary said, don’t mention the distant travel, restaurants and fine hotels, just say you are kind and successful and seeking a younger lady up to the age of 40.’

What decade is this guy living in? I bet he also loves Mad Men, where women knew their place and how to mix a mean Martini with a twist, whilst whipping up a three-course dinner when hubby’s boss unexpectedly invites himself to dinner.

I love the show-offs – the ‘Cambridge University educated gentleman, 70’s’ (get over yourself dear, you graduated half a century ago), ‘London or Paris, loves jazz’ (bless him, he went on a Eurostar day trip years ago) and ‘ohac, 80’ (honestly, I would hope he’d have his own home and car at that age).

Then there are the downright odd. ‘Attractive, professional businessman, lives near cliffs’. I’d be worried. ‘Divorced, 63, own teeth and hair, with no beard or tattoos or earrings but a gsoh’. There are no words.

There’re also the ‘humorous’ ones – ‘Detached and desirable and much sought after luxury property. All mod cons, in full working order, circa 1950’s. Early viewing essential!’ Gosh, I bet he’s a right barrel of laughs.

I have learned that most of the men go to the theatre and enjoy good food. Does anyone enjoy bad food? The majority of them are looking for someone slim and younger than they are. They like golf and classic cars and seem to be solvent, apart from the man who boldly states that ‘I believe the best things in life are free’. Ladies, steer clear.

To be fair, I have also ‘written’ my own advert – ‘Single, divorced parent to a sulky Teenager and bonkers cat, late 30’s. Tall, has MS’. I bet I’d be inundated…

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