It’s bru­tal on the dat­ing scene... even for a Green

El­iz­a­beth Green — sis­ter of Top­shop boss Sir Philip — re­flects on the pain and plea­sure of be­ing sin­gle again af­ter her re­cent di­vorce

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEATURES -

DAT­ING — THAT’S not a word I ever thought would a p p l y t o m e again. But af­ter com­ing out of a long mar­riage — I got di­vorced in May — I find my­self once again in that ter­ri­tory. And I don’t think it’s changed much. Or rather, the way it makes me feel hasn’t changed. For the past four years, I have been or­gan­is­ing cour­ses on re­la­tion­ships. Does that make me an ex­pert at dat­ing? Not at all. In fact, sec­ond time round I am still ex­pe­ri­enc­ing teenage-style pangs of love.

I had a first lit­tle fling on the way to get­ting un­mar­ried. But I wasn’t re­ally ready, and pushed him away. When he broke up with me, I couldn’t eat, sleep, do any­thing. I lost 7lb in two weeks — me a com­fort eater. I turned the 7lb to 20 at WeightWatch­ers, be­com­ing the wo­man I had al­ways wanted to be

I don’t know if men go through this sort of suf­fer­ing. I think they just feel bad, then jus­tify them­selves. “Well, you know,” they say to them­selves, “she treated me very badly, and I got hurt, and so I couldn’t see her any more” — and at the same time, they are al­ready eye­ing up the next can­di­date.

But don’t we women do it to our­selves? No-one hurt me ever; I did it to my­self. As proved by my next dat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Mike and I were in­tro­duced by a mu­tual friend. We met for din­ner at Sketch, a posh Lon­don restau­rant. I loved his Amer­i­can ac­cent. He was sort­ing out his mar­riage State-side, and just wanted to meet peo­ple — he only got as far as me. He was young, sexy, with gor­geous eyes, and worked for Dis­ney.

I had learned from the cour­ses that lis­ten­ing is far more im­por­tant than speak­ing, so I de­cided on our first date to lis­ten, and he talked. The one glass of pink cham­pagne, a lot for a non-drinker, was my un­do­ing. Or maybe it was when I kissed him on the way to the loo? He said that what hap­pened next was my fault be­cause I kissed him. “No, you let your­self be kissed,” I re­torted.

On our sec­ond date, Mike told me he didn’t want to hurt me as he had pri­or­i­ties in the USA to sort out, namely his soon-to-be-ex-wife and kids. But, of course, I fell. Af­ter years of ne­glect and con­stant crit­i­cism, if you shower a girl with at­ten­tion, she is bound to fall.

So we saw each other for six months. He made me feel young and sexy again. I of­ten wore the Dis­ney Bambi knick­ers for him which I bought in Top­shop (nat­u­rally). Now I like younger men.

I had kept my feel­ings to my­self un­til one night, when I started to speak, and he jumped in and said: “Are you in love with me?” I lied and said: “No.”

The lie sat on me for two days un­til fi­nally I rang him and we had a bit­ter­sweet meet­ing in Hyde Park. The sun was shin­ing, swans swim­ming, chil­dren play­ing... it was very hard to con­cen­trate, and not cry. I said: “Sorry, my do­ing, I fell in love — you said don’t.” I took re­spon­si­bil­ity and owned up. I’d heard peo­ple in the cour­ses do that; I had no idea how hard it would be. As friends, I drove him home. “Let me come in for tea, you can trust me,” I said. “It’s not you I can’t trust,” he said. “It’s me.”

I was able to thank him for the won­der­ful time we had spent to­gether. I could speak to him from my heart, in­stead of my head. He knew it and was able to do the same. This cre­ates the best pos­si­ble kind of re­la­tion­ship.

When he rang to tell me he was leav­ing soon, I cried. “Don’t cry,” he soothed, “I’ll get up­set.” I thanked him again for open­ing my heart. “Me too,” he said as his voice fal­tered. Now we email once a week, and he gives me tips on dat­ing on the in­ter­net — ap­par­ently that’s where I’m go­ing to meet the man of my dreams.

So I put my­self on a dat­ing web­site. I have emailed plenty of men, and al­though many don’t re­ply, I al­ways make sure I do, whether it be to “At­tila the Hunk” or “A Very Beau­ti­ful Man”. My 19-year-old daugh­ter and I have had hys­ter­ics in front of the com­puter at the sight of prospec­tive suit­ors. One called him­self “Choco­late” and, from the photo, looked as if he had a growth on his head. An­other, go­ing by the name of Yum­my­boy12, had long hair, wore a fetch­ing jumper/shirt/tie com­bi­na­tion and said he was an ex-so­cial worker, and felt we had much in com­mon.

But it’s com­pelling. My daugh­ter has had to warn me: “Mother, step away from the JDate. Mother!”

And I have been on dates, sort of. At din­ner with “Man from Outer Space”, he proudly told me he had all his own hair, and teeth. One course later, we were say­ing good­bye out­side the restau­rant. On my way to an­other date, I rang to say I was held up in traf­fic. “How will I recog­nise you?” I asked. “I’ll be wear­ing a brown leather coat and a yel­low tie.” I wanted to turn round there and then.

And th­ese are the high points. Much of the time, you men make ar­range­ments, then drop out by text, and don’t even phone to make ex­cuses af­ter­wards. If you are read­ing this, you know who you are.

You see, I, along with ev­ery other wo­man, have read the cheesy mag­a­zines, sung the songs and watched the movies, and now am wait­ing, of course, to walk off into the sun­set. But I think I know that I won’t die if I don’t find a man, be­cause, af­ter many, many years, I have re­alised how great I am, and I will not be wait­ing for a man to tell me.

But I would like to find some­one — and yes, since I prob­a­bly have the Green gene, I want that some­one to be alive, ar­tic­u­late, re­source­ful, straight and true. Not ask­ing much, am I?

In the re­la­tion­ship cour­ses I put on, you learn to speak from the heart and lis­ten with com­pas­sion. The big­gest com­plaint peo­ple have is that they do not feel heard. I just lis­tened to Mike, and look what we got.

We all spend our lives giv­ing our judg­ments and eval­u­a­tions, safe in the knowl­edge that we are al­ways right. Do you know what it’s like when you get out of that place — your mind — and into your heart? You be­come au­then­tic, hon­est, open and car­ing. I ex­pe­ri­enced all that with my Amer­i­can sweet­heart, but he’s gone. I’m sad, but ready to have fun and find my heart again. For de­tails of Trust­ing Love re­la­tion­ship cour­ses, email eliz­a­beth­green01@ya­hoo. co.uk

PHOTO: JOHN RIFKIN

El­iz­a­beth Green: “I want some­one alive, ar­tic­u­late, re­source­ful, straight and true. Not ask­ing much, am I?”

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