Thursday, 8 March 2018

10 Life Lessons from Celebs Go Dating aka Reality TV = Educational TV

I have written before about my love of reality TV and the salient life lessons I believe it can teach us. (I'm all for watching life-enhancing, educational documentaries, but anyone who says that reality TV is a waste of time is clearly not a student of human behaviour.) My absolute favourite is Celebs Go Dating, a little TV gem which has actually made me cry laughing. The sarcastic commentary from Rob Beckett is really what MAKES the show, although I am also completely in love with Tom the receptionist, who is just about the sweetest, purest person I have ever encountered. 

                                        Here he is in his pre-fame days isn't he just adorable?

Mulling over the end of the latest series, I realised that this entertaining show is actually packed full of really interesting little nuggets of info about the world of dating. Here are some lessons we can take from our friends at the agency: 

1) If you want a guy to never call you again, find a way to ridicule his self-image.

When Celine popped up as a "feisty" date for Muggy Mike, we flashed back to when she dated hottie Callum Best in season 3. He prided himself on being a "gentleman" (although I must point out, real gentlemen don't tell you, they show you.) Celine really cut him to the quick when she suggested he was "quite sleazy", shattering the illusion that every girl saw him as the charming, well-mannered man he wanted to portray.  

Likewise in season 4, Jonathan Lipnicki was trying hard to shake off the image of that tiny, cute boy who had once starred alongside Stuart Little. So when one girl giggled that she would find it hard to take him seriously as a sexy grown man, he walked out, never to return.
He's an adult now. Accept it.

Make fun of a guy all you want, but if the teasing turns personal and you let him know that the way he sees himself is not the way you see him, chances are he will never want to see you again. The guy who prides himself on being an adventurer will be outraged by any girl who says "You went to Thailand for a month? That's not very exciting, EVERYONE goes there." But if you play up to this image and say "Gosh, you've done SO MANY crazy things!" you'll have him eating out of your hand.

2) Guys like a challenge.
"Muggy" Mike (I still don't really know what this word means, but I can use it in a sentence) was pretty obnoxious, but girls were falling over themselves to get into his pants. He openly confessed, many times, that he was bored with this and it was "too easy". Think about it. Guys like to challenge themselves – climbing mountains, playing sports, even getting to the next level on their computer game. Easy = boring. They feel a sense of satisfaction when they've tackled something difficult and won, and this includes women. Neanderthal? Yep. But who are we to argue with evolution?

                                   Have a guess at how many girls say no to him... don't you think 
                                   they're more memorable to him than the zillions who say yes?

So when an alpha male like Mike only meets women who (in his words) "roll over" within minutes, you can imagine it might get a little bit dull. (Not that it stops him from sleeping with them, obviously. More on that in a moment.) He only came to life when he met Celine, who challenged him, making him unsure if she liked him or not. Finally! Somebody who knows how to play the game for FUN!

3) If he's interested, he will call. (Also, guys are weird.)

What is it with these guys who kiss the girl enthusiastically on the date, promise affectionately that they'll be in touch soon, then drop her like a hot potato? Seb was all over one delighted girl, then told the agents he'd been stupid to kiss her because he didn't want to see her again. Sam constantly got into trouble for leading girls on – to be fair, it was because he found the end of any date so excrutiating he would fill the awkward silence with "Well, I'd love to see you again...."

The agents also insist that their celebs call to tell dates that they won't be seeing them again, rather than leave them hanging. Their abject horror at this prospect tells you everything you need to know about why so many guys will ghost you rather than actually let you know where you stand. 

The takeaway lesson? A guy might be giving you all the signals that he's fallen madly in love with you, but if he doesn't call you for a second date, it's NOT because he lost your number. 

4) Manners matter. 

One of the most surprising elements of this show is how many young women look absolutely amazing, flirt up a storm and then... they have no table manners! Who could forget the earth-shattering burp of Joey Essex's date Flo in Season one?

Likewise, in series 4, London Hughes was licking her fingers, lip-smacking and practically chewing on chicken bones at the dinner table. Showing that you're enjoying your food is fine, but if you're doing something that would have made your mum tell you off when you were eight, it's probably not something you should be doing in swanky restaurants in front of the guy you really fancy.

5) Ladies don't act like divas.

It's a Princess point of honour, this one. Gemma Collins kept banging on about what a lady she was and how much she needed a guy to be a "gentleman". (Which in her book basically meant paying for stuff.) However, the "gentleman" rule I mentioned earlier also applies to ladies: if you're acting like one, you won't need to point it out!

Gemma stood up a man who'd bought tickets to take her to Paris and left him waiting at the station. She showed up late to dates, refused to so much as top up a man's drink, and basically chose her "winning" suitor on the basis that he'd promised to pay for everything, so she'd never have to work again. None of the above is remotely ladylike – or Princess-like for that matter!

Can you imagine Michelle Obama acting like Gemma, imperiously holding out her coat and saying "Someone needs to take this"? If someone made a faux pas like forgetting to hang up a coat or pour a drink, a real lady would try to avoid drawing attention to it and causing that person embarrassment. Trying to make other people look bad to make yourself feel more important is a sure sign of being totally classless. 

6) Don’t join in the "pick me" dance.

He may have the bluest eyes, the whitest teeth and the cutest dimples, but all of this is irrelevant if a dude is playing you off against another girl. Incapable of making a decision, Sam invited both Tammy and Emilia to Cape Verde. When they met, the girls were admirably respectful towards each other (yay! Girl power!) but I was disappointed that neither of them (or ideally, both) said at this point “You know what? Count me out. I’d rather be alone than compete for a man". 

If you're ever in this situation, just walk away. Some guys will string you both along for as long as they can, basking in the attention and enjoying being the source of competition. An added bonus is that if you're the first to say it, the girl who "wins" will always wonder if he would still have chosen her if the decision hadn’t been taken out of his hands…

7) Your friends sometimes give you bad advice because it's more entertaining for them. (Also, don't pursue boys who don't like you.)

Tallia Storm had a hard time this season. I confess, I wasn't all that sympathetic towards her at first, because in my experience when women say "Oh, I'm just SO SASSY! Men are intimidated by me," it normally means "I'm incredibly rude and I haven't found many guys who will put up with it." However, the agents played a pretty nasty trick when they sent her ex, racing driver Seb, to the same restaurant to surprise her during a date. They made up some excuse about needing to see if she was over him, but come on... That wasn't fair to her, or the guy she was meant to be seeing that night (but was too distracted to concentrate on). Most of her dates seemed to be equally unsuccessful.

                           Why do people say "Resting Bitch Face"? If you call it "Bitchy Resting Face", 
that correctly suggests your resting face just happens to look bitchy, while 
"Resting Bitch Face" implies you ARE a bitch and your face is at rest...

When time was running out for her to find a date for the trip to Cape Verde, the agents set her up on a triple date. The first one held no chemistry, the second acted like he didn't want to know, but the third was cute, equalled her level of cheekiness, and generally seemed interested. She confessed she was fascinated by the guy who acted indifferent. A good friend would have pointed out that this attraction to the unattainable may be why her relationships don't go well, and advised her to go with number three... but Eden and Nadia actively encouraged her to choose number two, presumably because it would make more entertaining TV.

In non-TV world, you may find your own friends sometimes give you advice which won't make your life happy and drama-free, but will provide them with plenty to gossip about. 

8) Love doesn't work to schedules, and it's OK to be single. 

This is a show with an end-game: to find everyone a partner. It normally ends with a party where each celeb brings along their new amour, but in this latest series, the ante was upped with a trip to Cape Verde. This meant that even if people hadn't really met anyone they clicked with, they were under massive pressure to just find someone – anyone! – so they basically picked the date they hated the least, and we all had to pretend to believe they'll carry on seeing each other after the cameras stop rolling. 

And here Tallia showed that she's made of tougher stuff; she realised that bringing a guy who didn't actually like her (but apparently liked the idea of a free holiday) was a terrible idea, so she showed up to the big party alone. How cool is that!

The pressure to find a partner starts early – I'm eternally grateful that my school wasn't full of couples, so when prom time rolled around, pretty much everyone just came with a bunch of friends. Why make a party stressful by insisting everyone must find a date and then have tons of photos taken with them for posterity? Likewise I'm glad that the American tradition of having to kiss someone at midnight on New Year's Eve has never caught on in the UK (we just cheerfully hug random strangers instead). 

                                         You don't need to go on holiday with a man when
                                             you'll have just as much fun with your friends 
The trouble with making imaginary deadlines (like needing to be married by the age of 30 or to have a boyfriend by Valentine's Day) is that you can get so caught up in your timetable you feel compelled to panic-grab the nearest guy, whether you're well-suited or not. In the wise words of Katy Perry, don't let the clock tell you what to do. Even if all your friends are coupled up, it's better to go to their weddings alone than force yourself to find a date for the sake of it (who might scare off the amazing guys you can meet there....)
9) You can control your reaction to everyone else

Jonathan Cheban is seriously unpleasant. I've always kind of liked Kim Kardashian, but knowing JC is her BFF actually makes me think less of her. He's rude, values money and status above everything else (what's the betting he also does yoga and considers himself "spiritual"?!) and drives everyone up the wall with his bitchy ways.

But you know what? When JC joined the agency in season two, no matter how badly he behaved, Tom never changed the way he acted towards him. While the agents lost patience (along with the viewers), Tom just carried on being sweet and friendly and cheerful, and Jonathan responded by treating him (and only him) like a human being. Tom had succeeded in the ultimate Princess move – not letting someone else's attitude change yours.

Tom also wrote a blog which was full of nothing but praise for everyone: He's living proof of the benefits of seeing only the positive in every situation!
10) Your bosses aren't necessarily brighter than you

I find Eden and Nadia annoying because as well as occasionally stitching up the celebs for their own entertainment (arranging for ALL their previous dates to be at a mixer, surprising them with exes,  group therapy sessions etc) they're also incredibly rude and disrespectful to my sweetie Tom. In the latest season they deliberately made him think he was in trouble before telling him he was actually being promoted. (They also tell him not to get above his station on a pretty regular basis.) Of course, the hilarious thing is that Tom is a STAR, and will still be running around the celebrity circuit in some form or another when Nadia and Eden have long been replaced....