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32 Things I’ve Learned About Love


…aka, one thing I’ve learned for every year I’ve been alive, or the amount of hours it might take you to read this post. I do love to bang on in my old age…

1. Love at first sight is a myth. Love in the first twenty minutes, on the other hand, I can vouch for. Ask any of the Uber drivers who have had the dubious pleasure of picking me up from Soho in the wee hours. I am an over-sharer. It’s why my Uber rating is so shit.

2. Everything you need to know about someone can be found on their playlist, bookshelf and who they follow on social media. Side-note: if they don’t even have a bookshelf, you’re on your own, kid. The great John Waters once said if you end up back at someone’s and they don’t own any books, do not, under any circumstances, sleep with them. The Da Vinci Code doesn’t count.006-bonnie-and-clyde-theredlist

3. Girls, the chances of you being single forever are very, very slim. Chill the f out. Enjoy the temporary bliss that is not having to de-clog the drain every time your man shaves his contrived hipster beard.

4. Getting under someone to get over someone else should be used sparingly. It is not a magic bullet. G&T-fuelled karaoke, however, works wonders. But don’t make everyone suffer through Gloria Gaynor. Come on dude, you’re better than that.002-sandy-danny-grease-the-red-list

5. Both your head and your heart will lie to you. The most important barometer of any relationship is your gut. Not as romantic-sounding, I realise, but it is the unsung hero of your emotional intelligence. Less sentimental than the heart, and not as overwrought as the head, it only speaks the truth. It’s your job to listen. Top line: if you’re not sure, get out. Yes is yes, no is no. Uncertain is also no. Sorry.

6. Being single can actually be better than the alternative – yes, even past the apocalyptical age of 30 and, yes – shockingly – even as a woman. That’s not my ovaries you can hear screaming. That’s the sound of the last person who asked me when I was getting married. No, I won’t be freezing my eggs any time soon. Yes, my mother is fine with it. Thanks for asking.


7. Which brings me onto… settling. There’s nothing that will slowly kill your soul in quite the same way. Don’t be in a relationship just because it’s there. Wait. Read some books. Travel. Make a sandwich. 

8. Comparison is the thief of joy. No two people are the same, so why should two relationships be? Take the lessons learned from your past and utilise the shit out of them… but don’t compare. Nobody wins.


9. Never underestimate the importance of spontaneity and good underwear. And flirting. And not always with each other, either.

10. Watch out for anyone too charming. And drummers. And magicians.1D274907215618-today-little-mermaid-02

11. Parents have a lot to answer for. As do first relationships. But a blueprint isn’t necessarily set in stone.

12. Don’t try to change someone. Be excessively passive aggressive until they change themselves. JOKING, obvs. With the exception of Sandy in Grease and basically every makeover-style rom-com ever… and mayyyyybe Victoria Beckham’s thorough and professional manscaping of David, when has this ever ended well? Chances are if you liked them enough in the first place, them changing won’t alter how you feel deep down. Even if they do look magnificent in a sarong.46059936.cached

13. There’s more than one person out there for each of us. I’d even go as far as to say that there are a handful. You won’t catch them all, though. This isn’t Pokemon Go. One of the hardest things you’ll ever have to come to terms with is that, just because you meet one, doesn’t mean they’ll be who you end up with. Those near-misses might haunt you, but you can’t let them ruin you. Don’t waste the gift of regret by not using it to make better decisions in your future.

14. Marriage and kids aren’t for everyone. And that’s ok. But shared values are critical. Sticking around hoping to change someone’s mind is exhausting. And that goes for a lot of things. Don’t be that girl – or guy.150319132420-richard-gere-julia-roberts-pretty-woman-super-169

15. There are some things that are – and bloody well should be – non-negotiable. Kindness. Loyalty. Knowing which songs not to talk over. The ability to make a cracking cup of tea without having to be asked. Otherwise? P45 time.

16. Playing games is bullshit. Fun fact: You can’t trick someone into liking you. This is why The Rules ruined feminism for everyone, the big, prehistoric buffoons.berternie

17. Having said that, no one likes a keeno. Just be normal please.

18. If someone isn’t over their ex, swerve.


19. If a relationship is all over social media, it’s bollocks. Don’t feel jealous. They haven’t had sex in six weeks.

20. Grow together, not apart. Be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. You’re a team, after

21. Having said that… maintain your independence. They are not your ‘other half’. You are not a half, you romantic idiot. Never forget it. You can love someone from the depths of your soul but they should never be the centre of your entire universe. That’s what children are for.

22. People will talk about your relationship. Their opinions are none of your business.url

23. Fall in love with yourself first. It was only a matter of time before I starting quoting RuPaul, so here goes: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gon’ love somebody else? Can I get a A-MEN?” And this goes both ways, kids. Dating people that fundamentally dislike themselves is a minefield. Avoid, or get out before they start making you think that you’re the problem. 

24. Arguing should be a means to an end, not a sport. Learn how to do it properly, and use it with care.edward-cullen-and-bella-swan-twilight-saga-part

25. The weirder you can be with each other, the better.

26. Brené Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability is probably more effective than most couples’ therapy.

(L-r) RYAN GOSLING as Jacob and EMMA STONE as Hannah in Warner Bros. Pictures’ comedy “CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

27. Chemistry is nothing without timing.

28. Cheating doesn’t have to mean the end. Ooh, controversial! Nine times out of ten, though, if there is cheating, you’re with the wrong person. But…


29. …sometimes things need to be burned to the ground before you can start again.

30. Criticism should be sporadic at best, and only ever come from a place of love. As they say, a critic is a man who knows the way, but can’t drive the car. If someone does it too much, sack them off. You are FINE. Your taste might need work, though.The-NotebookThe-Notebook-597934

31. It is a rare, rare thing that your ex will find someone better than you. Unless you’re a dick. But I highly doubt there are any dicks reading this to the very end. 

32. Final, extremely sappy, thought… Love is the last great adventure. If it doesn’t make you feel that way, you’re doing it wrong. And don’t let anyone tell you different.

Girl Gang? Sign Me Up. An Ode To Female Friendship In The Desert

When I was seven I wanted to be a Ghostbuster. Unsurprisingly, not many of my contemporaries were having any of it, much preferring to ponce around with their Sylvanian Families whilst I sat pondering the logistics of playing both Venkman and Spengler simultaneously. (I like a challenge). Imagine my delight, then, when they announced that they were rebooting it with a female cast of comedy geniuses, poised to take on New York in some of the best boiler suits ever seen on celluloid. The mud-slinging that has come since – this week seeing the release of the latest trailer – has been slightly heartbreaking, mostly because people are up in arms that they’ve dared to remake an 80s buddy movie using only girls. (Eugh, girls! Imagine!).Olivia Phillips Girl Gang

Now, I no longer harbour dreams of donning a Proton Pack, as handy as that may occasionally be, but I do think that life in Dubai can often feel like one big female buddy movie – and that I’ve come up against a fair bit of flak for how I’ve chosen to portray that to the outside world. “Ooh, you girls love a line-up, don’t you?”, I was once asked by a particularly sarcastic pal back in the UK, after I’d uploaded a picture of me and six girlfriends outside Frankie’s in JBR. “What’s happened to you?!”, another one Whatsapped me when I’d posted ‘These ones!’ and a hearts-for-eyes emoji on Instagram. “If you start hashtagging ‘squad goals’ you are dead to me, Phillips. Dead.”

Admittedly, it might not have been my most eloquent Insta-moment. And maybe it’s not very ‘cool’ to brag in such a shamelessly saccharine way. We’re British after all; it’s our job to be mostly underwhelmed. But I don’t care. I love my girl gang. I’m proud to have them, and to show them off, knowing that, without them, my life here would be significantly less emoji-filled – both literally and metaphorically. And in a town where few of us have our families or oldest friends to lean on, I cannot overstate the wonderful, life-affirming, crisis-averting importance of having them around.

Research backs it up, too. There’s been hundreds of studies done on the very real health benefits of female friendship, concluding that the time we spend together releases oxytocin – a depression and stress-killer which also makes you feel calm and warm. Combine that with many a free ladies’ night drink and it’s little wonder I feel the need to enthusiastically pepper everything with hearts. It’s science. In comparison to men, we’re more open with each other, more vulnerable, supporting the argument that it’s why we live longer. Sorry, lads. Jane Fonda put it perfectly in a TED talk she did last year with long-time friend Lily Tomlin, “Men’s friendships are side-by-side, whilst women’s are face-to-face,” she said. “I exist because I have my women friends.” I feel her. Especially because, prior to moving here, my life in London was vastly different.

Perhaps it was the longer office hours, or the dread of going out in the rain, but I found myself with a rather diminished crew; friends scattered all over the home counties, banished there by some kind of affordable-housing, Zone 18 Overlord. In comparison, we live in a country brimming with ex-pats (who, incidentally, all seem to live in the Marina), keen as mustard and all in the market for new friends. It also attracts a certain type of soul – social, adventurous, likeminded – that makes it easier to find a connection. When you’re putting roots down in a new city, that respite and emotional support you get from a strong group of female friends is vital. You need them not only for the belly laughs and the brunches, but for the homesickness and the heartbreaks. For the debates, the career advice, the sisterhood and the solidarity. We’re all in it together out here, all doing something pretty brave. There’s camaraderie in that, which may or may not come across in my pithy footnotes on Instagram. But next time I write ‘These ones’, smiley face, under a picture of my girl gang, you’ll know it’s shorthand for all of the above.