This is a tricky topic for me as I’m clearly no expert (having been with the same partner for over 20 years) and when I was dating there was no internet!! BUT I am an expert at human relationships, managing self esteem, being assertive, positive thinking and most other healthy mental exercises required to put yourself out there in the dating world. I would really value your comments so please add your pearls of wisdom and experience.
Firstly you have to meet someone, and I go on a lot about the importance of knowing and being able to express your VALUES – and when meeting new people you are much more likely to have a positive experience with an element of shared values, so looking in areas that you are more likely to find those shared values is a good place to start. If you do prefer the online route to view and read about a person before you actually meet them, there are a number of internet dating sites that profess to be attuned to ethical or environmental people – here are a few to get you going.
Some sensible guidelines when meeting people you don’t know for the first time: (talking for hours on the phone or texting still isn’t ‘knowing’ someone x)
- Meet in a public place
- Let someone you trust know where you are and agree if you will text them or they will call you to check in
- Make sure your phone is fully charged and you have credit to make calls
- Make sure you have enough cash for a taxi or whatever you may need if you choose to leave
- If meeting up in a large group, discuss the plan and make it clear you may leave if the group decision isn’t something you want to join in with
- Of course you want to look your best, but remember that you also want to be a bit comfortable and be able to relax a little!
If the online thing isn’t for you, there are a number of group dating businesses that host dinner parties, days out or theatre trips where people meet in smaller groups with a shared interest. You could arrange this yourself by spending time doing the things you really enjoy and meeting people socially perhaps via volunteering? There are also holiday companies for single people and organisations like Gingerbread – who specialise in supporting single parents with finding a new partner, or just socialising at all.
Essentially, unless you fall in love with the person who delivers your post – you will need to go out and meet people to find one of them that makes your tummy go gooey.
The hardest part of the whole process is finding out if you make them feel that way too.
It may be that you need to actively put yourself in places where you are more likely to meet like minded people – but still being an honest and authentic person you will need to have think about a creative way to do that. For example, if you love Italy, have been there many times and love the food and culture then maybe taking an Italian evening class would be a good idea? You will learn a useful skill for yourself and are likely to meet people that also love Italy – some of whom may be single… You could also look in people’s shopping baskets for ‘dinner for one’ type deals and stalk them, but that doesn’t seem as healthy…
We’ve created this infographic to give you some starters with the dating world, making sure that you remain open and honest – while also keeping yourself safe and sound.
Once you have agreed to meet up with someone you then have to remember your frugal values and goals. Make sure you are clear from the outset about whether you are going to ‘go Dutch’ or buy your own tickets to the cinema etc. It’s nice to be treated, but you may also want to have enough money with you that you can pay your half or the whole amount should you or they run out!
If you are on a strict budget it’s much easier to be up front about that, and offer ideas that you are happy with. Some frugal suggestions could be:
- a picnic and walk
- visit to a museum or gallery (especially if they are free)
- using a Groupon or other voucher for a meal or experience
- Just having a drink rather than a meal – meeting at different times may help
- finding a free local event like a fair or outdoor cinema
- borrow a new outfit rather than buy one
- use memberships you already have – a trip to the gym, a National Trust visit, a discount code or just a free drink in Waitrose!
Dating should be fun and if you do meet someone you want to see more of, that’s a very exciting time. If you are genuinely happy on your own that’s fine too. There is not just one perfect person for you, there are lots of people you could be happy with – the most important part of the whole process is that you have to be happy with yourself (mostly) first. If we don’t believe ourselves to be essential nice and loveable we will be inherently suspicious of people that profess to love us – because they must have something wrong with them! I have a video going up tomorrow all about this and will link to it from here as soon as it goes live x
Wishing you happy times ahead.
There is going to be a flood of posts and articles surrounding Valentine’s (or Galentine’s if you’re trendy) Day, and it’s hard to think of something a little different to talk about! I actually LOVE celebrating Valentine’s Day, I think any excuse to talk and show affection and love to those we care for should be grabbed. We have games we play with the kids and eat heart shaped and/or red and pink foods for dinner, after 24 years Mr. Frugal and I still send cards to each other and have a take away as a treat with something bubbly in the evening.
Love is special, and if you have someone you really feel good around then take every opportunity to tell them. Of course for a relationship to show commitment and longevity you will need to show you care on more than just one day!
I’ve decided to use all this talk of love and relationships to write a post of two halves. 1. Frugal Romance and 2. Sustainable Sex (eco not stamina!).
If you are still looking for love there are a number of dating sites specifically aimed at people with strong eco and ethical values:
So, the shops will have lots of options for you to spend money to demonstrate how much you love someone. I’m here as the voice of reason to say what you SPEND does not demonstrate how much you love someone! Really, it just doesn’t. However your ACTIONS may well be a huge clanging bell of how much you have thought about/planned for/taken care over the person you wish to show affection. There is a very fine line between saving money and being careful about people’s feelings. A homemade item only works if it’s genuinely made with care and affection, FREE things you could consider creating might include:
- a card
- a photo collage
- upcycling a favourite piece of clothing
- a keepsake box
- a mix tape (or modern equivalent!!)
- inviting over a treasured friend
- offering to babysit for an important occasion
- cook/buy a favourite meal
- put on clean bedsheets, maybe with some perfume or petals on there?
- do all the cleaning, and open a bottle of wine…
If there is a chance that you have very different views on the whole Valentine’s Day thing I would encourage a conversation about this in advance to avoid common pitfalls and crushed expectations. Examples of AGREED spending changes could be:
- Celebrating on an alternative day when everything will be cheaper, flowers, meals, chocolates EVERYTHING.
- Setting a budget for gifts.
- Showing love to a common passion instead, so rather than flowers donate that money to a project you both love or buying an item you both agree is needed/wanted.
- Not spending at all, and have a free date night (see below)
- Buying one thing that’s really wanted rather than spending on lots of smaller items available in the shops that are red and heart shaped, but will ultimately end up in a charity shop.
For a no spend Valentine’s Day you will have to be a bit more creative, and if you are planning a surprise remember to focus on the LOVE and not the PRICE
– people don’t want to hear that it was cheaper to do X than Y, it’s just not romantic.
Here are five ideas for a FREE Date Night, and you can do these on any night of the year obviously – maybe you could have a monthly night of romance instead of just birthdays and anniversaries?
- Watch the sunset or sunrise together… this can be a truly peaceful and wonderous experience. NB if you are parents of young children I’m aware this won’t work for you x However, you are probably up for one of these anyway so having a partner to share it with might be nice??
- Look over an old photo album together and remember some fun times, you can laugh about your teenage haircuts, see your first dates or a wedding album. Have a laugh and remind yourselves why and how you fell in love… The longer you are together the more hilarious this gets.
- Snuggle up and watch a movie. Turn the lights out and grab some snacks or a hot chocolate and just be. Choosing a movie can be tricky – I would go for whatever is most likely to induce laughter, romance or sleep depending on your situation.
- Make a Plan – think about the future you plan together, discuss some shared goals or dreams and see how you can support each other to make them happen.
- Have an ‘early night’ – wink wink, see below
Somewhere in between the Romance and Sex halves of this post I want to quickly mention underwear – there are some really beautiful, ethically sourced and made underwear producers that may cost a bit more than Ann Summers, but will last you a long time are comfortable as well as sexy and offer an elegance and sensuality that may be more to your taste take a look at…www.lbpclub.co.uk, www.luvahuva.co.uk & www.moralfibres.co.uk.
So now we move to the more awkward part of the post – at least if you’re British it will be awkward! – to think about how we allow for frugal and ethical values in a healthy sex life. A quick word of warning from my own recent research if you use an online search engine to find ‘eco sex’ you are likely to come across a lot of articles, books and information about a group who took the term as their own and have a very specialist view of what it means; basically they practice and encourage people to love the Earth in the most explicit sense. If that’s your thing, you have found your people; if you are looking for a more environmentally friendly way to express human to human love then the ideas here will be more for you…
Below are some ways you may want to consider making changes or at least pondering the issues of sustainable sex.
One of the great things about sex is that it’s free! But if you want to change things up a bit here are a few more FREE ways to explore:
- turn the lights off and save some electricity (frugal and ethical!)
- consider the Great Outdoors as a possible location…
- save water by sharing a bath together
- enjoy a sensual massage using up some moisturiser or oil you already have
- change your ‘usual’ location if things have got a bit ‘same same’
- borrow a book from the library and try one new position a week/month/year
- make some cards with sexy suggestions and take turns to pick one at random
- one partner gets to choose the whole evening’s activities
If you have or use ‘equipment’ you might consider how ethically they are made, and the materials they are made from. The more natural the material the better from an environmental point of view, however it’s likely most sex toys are made of plastic. You will be pleased to learn therefore that the company LoveHoney can at least recycle your WEEE categorised sex toys. You just give them a clean and send them off, all the details are on the link.
If buying something new, you have the chance to be completely eco-friendly with options that are recyclable (glass, wood) or rechargeable, for example the Gaia Eco Vibrator is biodegradable and can be recycled. There is also a wind up vibrator which only needs you as a power source. You can check out www.lovehoney.co.uk, www.ethicalsextoys.co.uk and www.EarthAngel.co.uk who offer a selection of items for more ethical consumers, including recycled leather whips. There is also a social enterprise offering ethical sex toys alongside educational resources at www.vavven.org.
Condoms are still one of the safest and easiest ways to make sure you avoid unwanted pregnancy and STD’s. However, they are not biodegradable and often end up in landfill or our waterways. The only currently available option that is biodegradeable is made from lamb intestines which aren’t especially sexy. BUT there are ways you can make more ethical choices… some companies offer 100% recycled packaging, and Fair Square off ultra thin condoms from fairly traded latex. At www.babipur.co.uk you can buy vegan, fair trade condoms – it is mainly a children’s site so don’t be too alarmed when you first get there!
Here is also a good point to think about being comfortable – there is a great lube available from lots of places including Boots called YES! Lube, this is organic and free of parabens.
If you have the urge to go all 9 1/2 Weeks, just remember to think about where your food is sourced, and it’s impact… traditional aphrodisiac foods like seafood are often full of unpleasant plastic particles or mercury and that’s not at all romantic. It might be better to go for a safer homemade option like this easy vegan Chocolate Sauce recipe…
14oz coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Whisk coconut milk, sugar and cocoa powder together and then simmer in a pan for 10mins, add the vanilla and oil off the heat stir to blend and allow to cool (or not!)
If you like to dress up, consider getting costumes pre-loved instead of new, and consider the quality and flammability of the materials used! Again, you may want to try a homemade version, you might create your own school days with white shirts and ties, wrap up with toilet roll like a mummy and then rip it all off, recreate a favourite gig with the live CD and wear the gig t-shirts you bought back then…
Whatever floats your boat between consenting adults should be fun and healthy. It can be very difficult in family life to find the time and energy for romance or even the most cursory of sex lives, but intimacy is what makes a relationship different from a friendship so it’s worth nurturing for the long run.
I will be adding some more relationship based articles to the FRUGAL YOU page, after writing and delivering a number of courses on relationships, as well as working on my own for over 20 years I feel in a good place to share the love x