‘I want to take self-care seriously, with a specific focus on sex…’ (Picture: Getty Images/Myles Goode/Fran Hogan)
For this week’s How I Do It, in which a new person each week gives us a seven-day peek into their sex life, we hear from Fran Hogan, a 34-year-old project manager.
Fran is heterosexual and describes herself as ‘really really really single’, adding: ‘, I spend more time grafting on the replies to strangers online than grafting on myself.’
You might recognise her from Channel 4’s The Simpler Life, which saw 24 people reject modernity for a summer and live by the rules of the Amish.
Now, Fran’s firmly back in the modern world, but still takes umbrage with certain parts of it, explaining that ‘swiping and taking “look at me” selfies haven’t served a purpose’ in her life since she went off-grid for the show.
She’s found that relying on validation from the opposite sex ‘isn’t sustainable’, and she can’t remember the last time she had sex – quipping that there’s ‘no sex in the city’ for her at present.
These things, combined with the fact that her mental health has ‘taken a dip’ of late, have prompted her to dedicate a week to some sexy self-care and date herself for a change…
When I go through bursts of online dating I tend to swerve Sunday swiping, as it seems to attract a sea of ‘non-dating’ daters who are just fishing for a hungover virtual spoon or sharing emoji innuendos.
But, as it’s a bank holiday weekend, I can imagine Monday will be the new needy Sunday. Also, my train is delayed and trainspotting isn’t my thing, so I’ll see if the selection of swipers brings about any fresh meat/fish in the sea.
After about 20 mins, 10 of which were spent trying to connect to the Wi-Fi as 4G was fibbing to me (again), I realise that the swiping even with my little burst of fresh optimism hasn’t brought about any new online dating revelations other than the fact that puppy pictures seem to have replaced the standing-next-to-a-tiger-on-gap-year pics.
Maybe that’s because I’ve moved up an age category and gaps years are so last decade.
There are a couple of messages that stand out from the ‘hey how are you’ copy and paste sentences, seemingly from the last time I had a swipe.
Both are passive-aggressive with a wink emoji though. Even though these guys do have a point in that if you match, you should speak, the one-liners give me the ick before I give it a chance and the optimism dips again.
So, to avoid being flakey Fran, I have set myself a new rule. If I match with anyone I am going to send a message with at least two sentences. I’m not able to rustle up anything funny so soon after the ick, so I’ll get my cross stitch out instead to pass the time and to put me in a prettier mood.
I’m currently making some personalised bunting for my little sister’s wedding and despite my single status and the dreaded ‘little sister is getting married before me’ headline, I’m actually OK about it, which makes me feel badass.
Conquering that headline and not feeling crap about not needing to make two meal selections in my RSVP is making me feel pretty sexy in itself.
Fran standing in her vegetable field at the Farm (Picture: Mike Hogan)
I want to take self-care seriously, with a specific focus on sex, so I connect to the train Wi-Fi (super easily – well done Avanti trains!) on the way home. I’m googling ‘masturbation’ and having a look on Amazon Prime for adult toys.
I’ve got scissors and a drawer organiser on the way and a mini massage wand vibrator in my basket while I read some more reviews. Two out of three actual committed purchases aren’t bad.
As I do a lot of travel for work, when not on the video calls in a blazer and period pants, I’m all for something that can come with me on my travels. Feeling smug about the forward-thinking and continued adulting improvements.
I didn’t check the dating apps – it didn’t cross my mind. I got home and had the rest of the Upper Crust baguette for dinner that I didn’t get through on the train as I was reading up on what accessories go with a mini massager and answering questions about a pair of shoes I’ve listed on Vinted.
Turns out eBay may be better than Vinted for selling shoes as the questions weren’t from a genuinely interested buyer – it was someone with a foot fetish that wanted more pics of my actual feet in the shoes. Apart from being a bit annoyed at the admin effort spent on not actually having sold the shoes, I did think ‘fair play’ that someone has something they are interested in.
I can’t say that niche floats my boat – maybe I’m too PG but I was more looking at colour options for the wand and how it’s recharged as opposed to ‘niche’ sexual fantasies.
But, we are only on day one of sexy self-care week at this point. Maybe toes will be my thing by day five!
Fran on the field harvesting hay (Picture: Mike Hogan)
It’s the Monday-ist Tuesday ever. No one knows what day it is and having an extra day off typically means doing all of Monday and Tuesday in one day.
It is just too much, and I forget about it being my self-care week and just survive the day. I still hadn’t unpacked my working away case from last week and go to bed to watch Selling Sunset.
Sex doesn’t cross my mind – I’m more in awe of the mega work outfits the agents wear and start Googling how to get into real estate. I get a bit hot and bothered before bed but not for the right reasons – I’d left the towel heater on in my studio apartment and that, along with the glass floor to ceiling windows, have made my very own DIY sauna.
I stripped fully off for bed and set an alarm on my phone to remember to book myself a wax tomorrow.
Having been distracted on Monday and Tuesday, I ordered my rechargeable (no batteries needed) mini massager.
At the age of 34, I’ve only ordered a vibrator once and as I never got around to getting the right size batteries, it stayed in the box and never saw the light of day – apart from, embarrassingly, when my mum was trying to clear out boxes of random crap I’d left at her house after another one of my breakups.
I must stop using Mum’s place as a storage unit and also must not still be embarrassed about the fact she most definitely found it. I wonder if it went in the recycling bin or whether she overlooked it.
And Thursday is a ‘big night’ – I am taking myself on a date and not going to sit in a restaurant alone with my laptop as my ‘I have not been stood up’ armour.
The disappointment of the time spent getting a blow-dry, nails done, maybe a new outfit and making sure the shoes haven’t been scuffed only to end up having to get an Uber to somewhere I’ve ordered take-out from three times last week can be avoided by taking the bull by the horns and booking a table for one.
I’ve booked an Italian – happy to swerve endless discussion on what sort of food I like.
I rummaged in my drawers for some date night pants as these days I seem to just put on what is on the drying rack and lately there’s nothing date-worthy on there.
I’m hoping Amazon Prime comes up trumps and delivers before 10am as I need to head off from Liverpool to London at a decent time tomorrow to check into my hotel for a work meeting on Friday.
The bonus of taking myself for a date is I don’t need to deal with the anxiety of picking a date spot that sounds too expensive or too low-key. Let’s face, it we’ve done enough walks in lockdown, so on a first date, we just want to get excited that someone is taking it in hand and giving us some content to gush over on the girl’s group chat.
I packed my posh pants and blow-dried my hair so that when I finish this morning’s Zoom meetings I can just get to London and not be too fashionably late for my solo date.
By mid-morning, the only Amazon Prime delivery that is here are the scissors and the drawer organiser. Still pretty excited about the drawer organiser, though – I’m actually looking forward to the declutter session I’ve got lined up for Sunday.
I caught myself picking up the period pants off the dryer and replaced them with a red lace set I wore discreetly under the Amish outfit that I lived in while filming The Simpler Life last Summer.
Those red pants kept me going in terms of having something of myself there. I did get used to the dress after a while and after a few weeks I didn’t feel like a sack in it, nor did I feel the need to rely on the red pants. Mostly I actually didn’t bother with pants, as handwashing those every night was something I was too tired to do.
It gets to early afternoon and the second (most important) delivery hasn’t arrived.
It prompted me to prioritise getting things done for myself as, if I’d ordered it before yesterday instead of just replying to another email, I wouldn’t have been left waiting.
Rather than wait for it and miss my date-myself-night, I head to London, readuing the menu again.
It felt pretty empowering arriving, ordering, and heading home at a sensible time with no awkward ‘I need to get going now’ worries – after all, you cannot offend yourself – and no worrying about how soon is too soon to text.
I didn’t put the TV on to fall asleep, and I didn’t do any swiping in bed – it didn’t cross my mind and I didn’t feel lonely.
Maybe it was the long work week or carbohydrate coma that sent me off to sleep last night, but I got a full seven hours of sleep.
I didn’t check my work emails in bed, I washed my makeup off, so the pillow wasn’t wearing half of the John Lewis makeup counter and I didn’t wake up lonely and/or checking to see if a WhatsApp message had two blue ticks or not.
I didn’t wake up hungover from drinking too much white wine, and I haven’t spent the morning reading posts about sobriety on Insta. I have no regrets, nor do I have ‘the fear’.
So, even if there wasn’t any action below the sheets, it was a successful date.
I checked Amazon, and my parcel has been delivered. Actually, I’m more excited about that than the drawer organiser now.
‘Those red pants kept me going in terms of having something of myself [on the show]’ (Picture: Fran Hogan)
I got home late last night. I did pop the TV on to watch Selling Sunset again, but I didn’t wish I was them this time. Maybe I felt a little more at peace having had a successful Thursday date and feeling pretty wearing matching underwear again.
I haven’t opened the Amazon Prime box yet but, I had a sexy dream. No, feet were not involved.
My sexy dreamland sleepover wasn’t with an ex – hooray! Although I won’t be able to look at one of my mates in the same way for a while…
I’m away with a different friend tonight, and we’re sharing a room, so I won’t be taking my mini massager with me.
I am, however, planning on going wild (for me) on Sunday and lighting my not-for-lighting Jo Malone candle, having the TV turned firmly off, changing my bedsheets, and having some time with my new purchase.
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I may even use my drawer organiser next week instead and prioritise time for myself with myself.
All in all, I’d say my sexy self-care week was a success. I even chatted to a couple of mates about masturbation and that previously would have been unheard of.
I recognise that I’m not currently having sex but want to do it, and that I can still do it even as a singleton. I actually feel pretty sexy speaking about this and I thought I would have felt the opposite.
I wonder if I’ll have another sex dream and I wonder if this is just the start of me generally being more sex aware.
I also wonder if this is the start of my non-period pants making an appearance on the washing line, and the importance of prioritising the right things at the right time to get to my mentally secure finish line.
You can watch all episodes of The Simpler Life on All 4.
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