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The Love Series Podcast: "Just Like The Movies"

In this episode of the Love Series Podcast, host Valerio Esposito talks to a cinephile, a dating coach and a Doctor to investigate the way in which romantic movies and TV series distort our idea of love and shape our approach to dating. Click on the following links to Episode #4 of 
The Love Series Podcast 




The Love Series Podcast - Episode 1: "Mirror, mirror on the wall..."

Nightmare scenario: have you ever met someone from online to find out that they look... NOTHING like the pictures? Host Valerio Esposito talks us through the scary world of millennial dating: from first-date horror stories to the most common myths on conventional attractiveness and dating "out of your league".

Click on the following links to Episode #4 of 
The Love Series Podcast 





The Love Series Podcast - Introduction

Host Valerio Esposito introduces The Love Series podcast, a new show exploring the intricacies of millennial dating. We'll talk to guests, experts and friends to make sense of this crazy little thing called Love in the age of Instagram and Tinder.

Click on the following links to listen to the Love Series Podcast 






The Love Series: Dressed For The Occasion

I think we’ve all been there before. You’ve finally managed to bag a hot date. You approach the whole operation with scientific precision and military discipline. You pick the best time for both of you, scour Yelp for the cheapest restaurants with a minimum hygiene rating of 4/5 and proceed to send your location to the group chat so your friends know where to find your lifeless body in case your date turns out to be the millennial Ted Bundy/Aileen Wuornos. Everything is ready, planned to the last detail. But then the big day comes and, oh shit… you have nothing to wear.
You lean into your closet and ouch, all you can see is a blurry cluster of old, faded, Salvation Army-ish items that all of your friends will promptly veto and report to the authorities (wearing them in public would indeed qualify as a lewd act) the moment they receive your panicked snaps. It’s like Primark’s reduced section on steroids. A felt jacket? Too shabby. A funky silk shirt with oriental patterns? too hipster. …

The Love Series: Birdboxing - The Dating Trend Nobody Asked For

A few days ago, I got a text from my good friend Maria, lamenting the fact that she’d been ghosted (again) by the fuckboy du jour.  I got to thinking about a worrying pattern of behaviour that I’ve observed in some of my friends, brilliant and beautiful people who insist on dating frankly disgusting men and women, refusing to admit just how awful their partners are.
This is not a millennial trend per se. It’s something that even our ancestors got caught up in. Even freaking Anne Boleyn had the guts to call her husband Henry VIII the “gentlest prince that is” moments before he had her head chopped off just so he could legally get in bed with Jane Seymour. Anne, dear, listen to me: your man is about to let the crowd play bowling with your head and you’re still fawning over our royal fatness? Snap out of it!
But then again who can judge her? I like to think I am too self-respecting and dignified for that but I must admit that I have, on more than one occasion, pulled an Anne Boleyn in t…

The Love Series: (Not So) Happy Endings

Today I came across a faded pink post-it note in an old book of mine. I recognised my own handwriting, hasty and unintelligible as ever. It was a Maya Angelou quote, sieved through the filter of a shaky, sceptical hand: "There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
This got me thinking. About life, literature, and the importance of good stories. You’ve heard this before: life cuts me, and I bleed stories. They’re the backbone that holds my sense of self. Without them I would shrivel and collapse, calmly but steadily implode.
I like to think I’m able to amass the chaos, the facts and the anecdotes, the places and the people that come crashing in and out of my life, and shove them into the reassuring boundaries of a story, the straight lines of an archetypal narrative, the solid silhouette of pre-written characters.
It’s a tool for survival, the shelter in which I seek refuge during the storm of the week. I have been accused of living in a permanent state …

The Love Series: An Antidote to Bullshit

I used to think I was quite good at reading people. In my daily interactions with other fellow humans, I’ve always found it relatively easy to get the right message, read between the lines and limit the potential for misunderstanding. Recently, though, I’ve come to the realisation that my reading super-powers, attained through years spent watching Ted Talks on emotional intelligence, immediately vanish when I’m near someone that I am romantically involved with. You could go as far as to say that dating is, indeed, my very own kryptonite.
I could illustrate my point by sharing a couple of personal anecdotes, but too many of the “persons of interest” read this blog and I can’t deal with another angry Whatsapp voice note today. Luckily for me, however, my friends allow me to exploit their experiences with dating and turn them into cautionary tales for my readers to cringe on. So here goes.
My friend Greg from back home dated a girl named Hannah for a couple of weeks. She messaged him cons…

The Love Series: Kill It Before It Dies

When it comes to love, I always follow one rule: kill it before it dies. Pull the plug, fire the gun, serve the final blow. Until recently, I had a very singular (if a bit narrow) vision of the future: as a rigid, endless, long-term concept – a circle, not a line. Future to me meant eternity, the closest thing to forever that our mortal nature allows. And that’s why I never cared for fixed-term love - I just didn’t understand it.
Writing this down just makes me realise the absurdity of the self-imposed rule I have lived by for so long. I think about it rationally and wonder how out of touch with reality I must have been to truly believe that the only choice I ever had was between always and never, how crazy I was to think that the in-between is nothing but a bridge you cross frantically to get from one end to the other, without ever stopping to contemplate the view from the middle.
I used to dress my lovers with layers of hope and potential. I tried them on like shoes, to see if they’d…

The Love Series: Building a New Identity Through Love

The other day I was sitting by the small window in the corner of my living room. A seemingly insignificant spot in a new place, candid and clean, yet permanently stained with a premature cocktail of meaning and memory. I was having a cup of bad coffee as I made a list of all the things we still need to buy for the new house. A rug, a new lock for the bathroom, a TV set. I was trying to think of wallpaper for my room, choose a colour and a pattern, something that speaks to me and about me. I’ve always striven to describe myself through my surroundings: every object and stain on the wall must have history and sense and meaning. But that’s not easy to do when you have no idea who the hell you are anymore.
I went from being a person with the strongest sense of self to being… someone else, a stranger to myself, a different man in a new house and a new skin. What had changed in the past six months? Well, things have happened. God, sometimes it feels as if, in my life, things never stop happe…

The Love Series: Just Like The Movies

I spent most of my existence wishing that life were like a movie. As a child, I would sit on a fluffy rug at my grandma’s house, glued to the screen of a vintage television set for countless hours. I stood way too close to the telly, mouth open, wishing that that shiny box would one day turn into my own rabbit hole, and that I would slip into a perfectly edited world where remarkable stories awaited me.
When I realised I had grown too big to fit into my TV, I had to come up with another plan. I decided that I would live the most extraordinary life, that the plot of my existence would be so intricate and wonderfully told that it wouldn’t fit on the back of a DVD case. It was the beginning of a Hollywood-induced delirium that continues to this day.
I woke up one day, at age 23, to realise that I had made it… kind of. All the time spent watching Nora Ephron movies and memorising dialogues from 90s chick-flicks finally paid off. Sure, my life was far from perfect. But I had my moments. I lo…

The Love Series: How Love Island is Fixing Broken Britain

As another season of Love Island comes to an end, I am taking some time to reflect on what I have learned from it and what the fact that I watch it (and enjoy it) says about me as a person. I’d like to tell you I am too smart for it but the truth is… I am clearly not, so no point in faking it.
In fact, I am a simple man. I’d choose Love Island over Lars Von Trier any day. I don’t need no high-brow, avant-garde conceptual crap. I just like to revel in the old yet eternally relevant narratives that universalise the human experience because of their banality – and not despite of it.
I watch and I am hooked. I must know, I need to know. I want to get lost in the endless ping pong of she said/he said. I want to lose myself in the hamletian dilemma: did she get a boob job… or did she not? This is the question. I aim to find comfort in the prehistoric archetypes of human behaviour that the producers of the show exploit so skilfully for our enjoyment. They’re trite and unoriginal - but still in…

The Love Series: Teaching men to give consent

I thought I understood consent. It seemed simple: you’ve got to make sure that the other person is comfortable, you need to read their body language, you must allow them to state their permission clearly. It wasn’t a conversation I’ve had often with my parents or teachers but, on the few occasions I did, they made it clear that this is how a gentleman must behave.

When the #MeToo earthquake hit us in 2017, people started talking about it more openly: on social media, on tv, in the papers. Perhaps for the first time, my friends and I became comfortable discussing the topic even in informal situations, such as dinner parties or at the pub on a Friday night. Talking about consent had finally become mainstream. 
We had all the information we needed, and us men – well, most of us, I like to believe - permanently got it into our heads: no means no. I was perfectly aware of the seriousness of the situation and its nuances, like the fact that consent is not limited to sexual intercourse but als…

The Love Series: you can type but you can't touch

Imagine this. Somewhere in London, there’s a statuesque thirty-year-old man working for a prestigious company. He is in a serious, long-term relationship with his live-in girlfriend. They’re both very active (and reasonably popular) on Instagram: fit, good-looking people with well-paid jobs and a variety of healthy hobbies/philanthropic activities on the side. It’s the perfect Instagram couple, sparking that stinging feeling of inadequacy that us single, average-looking onlookers with minimum-wage jobs and no definite skincare routine know all too well.
But they don’t know what I know. The truth, as it’s often the case, is different from the virtual reality they force-feed us. Mr Insta-boyfriend of the year happens to be cheating on his partner with, well, my very good friend Francesca*. My friend is young. She looks young (which is why all the old creeps seem to be drawn to her). Sometimes she acts young – and you can tell from the fact that the man used the oldest tricks in the book…

The Love Series: Dropping the L-bomb

So not too long ago, at the end of a pleasant evening with a refreshingly normal person I had recently met, my date walked out the door, gave me a hug and casually blurted out the words “I love you”. My brain stopped working for about thirty-five seconds before I regained my composure and solemnly proclaimed: “You’re not supposed to say that.” I closed the door and resumed my ordinary Sunday night activities (eye cream, Love Island, hash browns).
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It must have been a misunderstanding, I thought, a nervous tic, the language barrier, the Russians. That couldn’t possibly be true! And when I was about to finalise my diagnosis (it’s Tourette's, I’m sure) my phone screen lit up. “Sorry. Just something I say to friends when it’s time to say bye, don’t make too much of it.”
It’s not anyone’s fault in particular. I blame it on the English. Not English people (I’ll let you off on this occasion) but the language. How is it possible that in the long, compli…