This is an article I wrote for ExpatwomeninTurkey.com:
Take a look!
This is an article I wrote for ExpatwomeninTurkey.com:
Take a look!
Listening to Emma Thompson talking about the recent sexual harassment and abuse in Hollywood and the film industry in general, she said that her mother used the word ‘pestering’ for the inappropriate attention from men that she experienced. That’s it! That’s the word that describes the behaviour I encounter every day online.
Since publishing my book, I realise how important it is to have a social media profile to aid with marketing and to create a fan base of readers. So, during the past eighteen months I have worked hard to build and maintain author profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and Instagram. It’s very satisfying to connect with people who have read my book and to get their feedback and also to hear from women who have been touched by the story or are in a similar situation.
However, inadvertently, I seem to have opened myself up to the unwanted advances of rafts of men who want to befriend me. No, let’s get it straight, they’re not looking for friends. They want to have a romantic liaison and marriage. They don’t even look at my profile to find out anything about me. Hence, the questions, ‘Hi! Howya doin’ sweetie? Where are you from?’ or ‘Where do you live?’
Initially, I found it quite flattering but now it irritates the Hell out of me! I’ve stopped using Skype as even when I’m not online, there seems to be a battalion of US army Generals who have nothing better to do with their time than trawl the system looking for ladies. I have encountered these US army personnel on most of my other social media sites too. Is it part of their training? Do they get bonuses based on how active they are online? Or in between taking pot shots at rebels in Afghanistan or Syria do they distract themselves from the living Hell around them by looking at pictures of women? Why don’t they message their wives and girlfriends back home? Is there some kind of macho tally at work where they gain prestige by the number of women they have as followers? I have never been approached by a military person from another country. Or is it something in the American man’s psyche that thinks that they are more attractive to the opposite sex if they say they work for the military? Do they think pictures of them in uniform are appealing? Maybe for some women they are but it has the totally opposite effect on me. As soon as I see a photo of them posing with a gun or a tank in the background, I block them. Deleting the conversation is not enough as the pesky little blighters will send message after message as they can’t quite compute that I may not want anything to do with them. Sometimes they’re sneaky and pretend to be a surgeon or a pilot until you look at their profiles and find some military reference or a telling photo. I know that armed forces’ presence is necessary in some troubled areas of the world but I’m a pacifist and would welcome other solutions to political or religious conflict. I couldn’t date a soldier. It’s just not me.
I never reply to any of the messages I get and used to just ignore them. But some of them are so persistent and think that I might not have seen their original message so decide to send more until they get a response. Pestering! It takes all of my restraint not to write something extremely rude. It’s like a road rage reaction. I feel incensed! However, I’m not prepared to risk my reputation as an author on an explosive vent. Blocking them is the only way to stop them and is like putting a deadlock on your front door for extra protection.
The only site where I’ve had no interference is Pinterest. I created a page specifically for photos related to my book, showing locations mentioned in the book and photos of Turkish culture, people, and crafts, etc. There are some stunning photos and I’ve enjoyed making a collection, some of which are in the gallery on my website. While there is the facility to comment publicly on photos, I think it’s only due to the fact that there is no private messaging option, that any potential pesterers are discouraged.
Look out for my next blog on the fun I’ve had on Instagram!
Love is a joyous thing which makes your heart sing and gives everything a rosy glow. Having experienced it once, is it possible to find it again when you’re no longer a spring chicken?
Did you know that women over 45 have been referred to as The Plankton Generation – that’s women who are barely visible and at the bottom of the food chain for romance – just because they’re over 45! That’s just rude!
I have been on my own for four years and, having gained total closure on that relationship and having enjoyed the freedom and independence of not being coupled up, I am now ready to find someone new. But how?
Living in a Turkish village, my options are limited. Most of the Turkish men here are married and those who are either divorced or widowed are looking for a replacement housekeeper. Then there are the young Turks who see a mature, foreign woman as a means to a better life. There is a sizeable expat community but most men are here with their wives or are gay. Of course, there may be a single male tourist here on holiday who I may just bump into in the supermarket or see sitting in a local restaurant who sparks my interest but the odds are slim.
I might be lucky to meet someone suitable on a flight to or from to the UK, rather than the bawling kid or the woman who thinks she is an expert on Turkey after having been to Marmaris on holiday twice! What are the chances? Minimal.
So, I’m left with online dating. I know it’s very popular and a few friends have found love and are very happy. But it doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe I’ve read too many horror stories about meeting nutters or heard sad tales of women whose confidence has been completely dashed by a string of wastrels.
For research purposes, I decided to experiment and joined an online app for people looking for love in my area of Turkey. Using a false name to protect my identity, submitted a recent photo and filled in the detailed profile information about age, interests, body type and what sort of man I was looking for honestly. I said I wanted a man between 45-60 years of age who, among other things, was well educated, tall, kind, honest, had a good sense of humour and could speak English. Being able to speak English is non-negotiable –it’s just too hard to communicate all the intricacies of a relationship in a language that is not your native tongue.
Within a day I had over 300 replies, the majority of whom were Turkish. Where to start? Trawling through the photos was entertaining as there was a huge array of men from early twenties (some willing to show their bits!) to late seventies who looked about to croak it! However, it is a well-known fact that people often lie about their age on online dating websites in order to appear more attractive, meaning you can never really tell what age someone actually is.
According to Dr Bernie Hogan, a research fellow at Oxford University who produced a report entitled, ‘The Case for an Older Woman’, 45-year-olds have a much harder time finding romance because ‘the male fixation on youth distorts the dating pool’. The typical 42-year-old man will accept a woman up to 15 years younger, but no more than three years older — and the women he enters into online conversation with are almost always at the younger end of the spectrum. The typical woman, by contrast, states she’d like to meet a man a few years older or younger than herself — and these are the men she contacts.
It seems perfectly acceptable for a man to date a younger woman but a woman dating a younger man is labelled as a cougar!! Shouldn’t we be celebrating her appeal? And the fact that she has the stamina and energy to keep up with a younger partner?
I immediately dismissed any who hadn’t got a profile photo. Are they so ugly they are embarrassed to show their faces? Nah! They’re married and don’t want anyone to know they’re looking for extra-marital fun. A photo of a rose, a tattoo or someone’s dog doesn’t really provide a sense of the person behind the photo and I couldn’t be bothered trying to psychoanalyse what the picture represented. I filtered those whose photos appealed and those that fell within my required age group.
It was easy to dismiss a significant proportion of them as they began by saying, ‘Hello Engleesh lady’ or ‘Nice to mit you’ or ‘Selam nasılsın?’ or ‘Coll me’ followed by their phone number. Obviously, their level of English wasn’t up to much and they weren’t interested in getting to know me before having a phone conversation to arrange to meet up. Which left a list of potentials who needed further investigation. I had no intention of replying to any of them until I had read their preferences and find out what they were looking for. Boy, was this enlightening! They had checked boxes to indicate preferred body type, interests and characteristics. Many wanted a woman who liked cooking (proving my theory of wanting a housekeeper rather than a lover or soulmate) and who didn’t drink alcohol or smoke. You wouldn’t believe how many of them indicated that they didn’t want a woman who talked a lot!
I narrowed it down to two possible matches. A Turkish teacher from Ankara, who had a lovely open face and a charming smile. He had lots of photos on his profile so it was easy to glean a snapshot of his interests and how he spent his time. He fulfilled many of my criteria so I replied. We chatted on and off for a couple of weeks and he seemed very keen to come here to see me. However, he didn’t have a car and had such a busy life with sporting commitments at weekends (he was a football referee) that it was impossible for him to get away for several months. I lost interest.
The other potential suitor was a Canadian who had just moved to Turkey and lived in Izmir. Perfect! He was well educated, a doctor, recently retired, the same age as me, very chatty and funny! He said he was short, but there’s always a compromise isn’t there? We chatted for about a week and he asked if he could call me on WhatsApp. I was looking forward to hearing his voice……until he spoke with a Turkish accent! He insisted he was Canadian but had been born in Turkey and moved to Canada when he was two years old. How can he have been through the Canadian education system, lived there for over fifty years and still have a Turkish accent? It didn’t make sense. Despite his protestations, I couldn’t ignore the feeling that something didn’t quite add up. I’m sure he’s a lovely guy but honesty is a real issue for me and I found I couldn’t quite trust anything he said, I stopped replying to his messages. Another one bites the dust!
Am I spoiling my chances of finding someone suitable by being too fussy? I’m not prepared to compromise on things that are important to me. I’d rather be on my own. Many studies suggest that men who become single after years of marriage are quick to find a new mate, while women are more cautious. I think we have to be. While I have been a risk taker in many areas of my life over the years, I am always careful and wary about talking to men I don’t know. There’s a fine line between putting yourself in a vulnerable situation and not being brave enough to meet someone new.
Will I try again? Not sure. It’s good for a giggle but don’t feel I’m likely to find anyone on that particular site. Maybe trying a global site would be better but a long distance relationship doesn’t appeal. Been there, done that. I’m hoping that Mr. Right will materialise when I’m least expecting it. Fingers crossed!
My website/blog is mentioned in today’s Daily Sabah newspaper in an article about the best blogs by expats in Turkey:
Turks are beautiful. They seem exotic and our reserved, uptight natures respond to their affection and hospitality like a flower opening up to the sun. After the initial euphoria dims, talking openly and honestly about the issues below will prevent a lot of heartache further down the line, even if the conversations are difficult because of a language barrier or differing levels of education.
Decide what you want
What do you want from this relationship? Was it just a holiday romance? You had a great time and you can be friends but you can’t see a future with him/her. Or do you want it to lead to something more? Do you secretly want to get married and hope he/she is The One? Does he/she feel the same?
It is perfectly normal for us to date for a considerable time, getting to know our partners, before thinking about a long-term commitment. Turks, however, move fast. Once they decide they like someone, a proposal, engagement, and marriage can all happen with just a few months. If you fall madly in love, it is easy to be swept along in the excitement. Make sure it’s what you really want.
If you both decide to make a go of it, how is that going to happen? Are you going to move to Turkey? Will your partner move to your home country? Is it possible? Could you work in Turkey? Will your partner be able to find work in your home country? Where will you live? Can you afford a place of your own or will you be living with your parents? Does he still have to do military service? Are there any reasons why you or your partner may not get a visa?
It may well be that you have to live apart initially, but if you have a solid plan and determination, there’s hope that you can be together.
Do you want children? Does your partner want children? What will you do about childcare? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years? Will you both work? Do you see yourselves living in a city, with modern amenities and a range of entertainment or does village life appeal to you more? Will you rent or take out a mortgage? What aspirations do you have for your children? What would happen if you couldn’t have children?
Turks generally find forward planning challenging and are more likely to go with the flow and face issues as they occur. This can be attractive to us more organised foreigners but my advice is at least attempt to discuss the quality of life you aspire to, instead of finding yourself living in misery a few years down the road.
Talking about your partner’s background and upbringing will help you to understand the reasons for certain choices and expectations. Turkey is a huge country and there are many differences in the geographical areas, not only in the landscape but also with regard to lifestyle, expectations, and way of life.
If you are a city person and like access to a lively nightlife, gyms and shopping malls, life might be easier in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir or one of the other large cities or a smaller town in the west of Turkey. If you are used to a quieter country life and enjoy being part of a close-knit community, then village life might appeal more.
If your partner comes from the east of Turkey, where there is a more conservative attitude, and you plan to settle there, make sure you understand his expectations. Will he want you to be covered? Will you be allowed out on your own? Will he want you to convert to Islam? Will you be allowed to go back to your home country alone to visit your family? If you are living with his parents, how much privacy will you have? Does he already have another wife? (Yes, it does happen!) Will his family accept you? Will you face opposition in the community? What is his family’s standing in the community? What will your role be?
Do as much research as you can. Try and learn some Turkish, especially if you will be living or spending time away from the tourist areas. No one expects you to be fluent straight away, but being able to use daily greetings and navigate your way while shopping and getting around makes things much easier.
Even if your partner is not a practising Muslim, knowledge of the basic tenets and practices of Islam will help you understand his thoughts and behaviour and what happens during the Bayram holidays.
Find out as much as you can about Turkish culture. There is a wealth of information on the internet. There are several interesting websites which document other foreigners’ experiences of marrying Turks and settling in Turkey that you may find enlightening, for example, https://livingtheturkishdream.com. Join relevant Facebook pages (there are loads!) like Turkish Wives And Girlfriends, Expats in Turkey, Turkish Culture & Language, to name a few. You will discover that there are many other people in the same situation, although there are more women than men. Talk to other foreigners who have married Turks and are willing to share their experiences – both the highs and lows.
Remember, while there are those who will criticise and tell you horror stories about what happened to them, there are many more who are in very happy relationships with Turks. You might find it useful to look at a survey I did on my website: https://fayerogan.com/can-you-guess-why-79-of-foreign-women-were-attracted-to-their-turkish-men/ which produced some interesting findings.
Lastly, I wish you every happiness and the
Before I begin, I’d like to clarify that the happy ending I’m going to write about is the one that happens at the end of a story and not the one in a massage parlour!
I am an avid reader of romantic fiction. For me, it’s pure escapism at the end of the day and helps to slow down my brain ready for sleep. I want to drift off thinking about happiness, love and hope – not blood and guts, some weird alien attack or wound up like a spring after reading a murder mystery novel which scares the pants off me.
I have a collection of ‘go to’ authors, whose easy style appeals to me: Jojo Moyes, Carole Matthews, Danielle Steele, Jill Mansell, Olivia Goldsmith, Freya North, Wendy Holden, to name a few. ‘Danielle Steele!’ I hear you gasp! ‘Surely, you don’t read her books?’ Yes, I do. Mainly because I get given them by my Mum who is an ardent fan. There was a time when I became bored by them. The formula was too obvious and the themes too repetitive but some of her latest books have captured me and I’ve enjoyed reading them.
There is a common misconception that romance novels are sugary, light and have no depth or it’s something older ladies read. I defy anyone to maintain that viewpoint after reading ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes. I cried so much I could hardly breathe and it raised so many interesting questions that are still whirling around my mind weeks after finishing it.
Modern romantic fiction is a broad genre, tackling a wide variety of issues. Sub-genres include romantic comedy (where you make a fool of yourself in the search for Mr. Right), paranormal romance (sex with a ghost?!), erotic romance (full-on steamy sex with no holds barred), romantic suspense (it takes until the last page for you to know if they got together) and contemporary romance, which reflects the ever changing lives of women today. These books are predominantly written by women who have probably experienced first hand or vicariously through their friends and family, the topics that women want to read. The quest for finding true love, divorce, juggling marriage with the constraints of modern life, improbable relationships and widowhood are common themes. I was surprised to discover that there are very few novels which tackle cross cultural relationships and so decided to write my own. Hence, ‘Seeing the Truth’ was born.
One of the concerns I had while writing my debut novel was whether, as I would market it as a romance, it must have a happy ending. My first draft had a shocking cliffhanger ending which I thought would be a refreshing change. However, after much research and asking the question on romantic fiction forums and websites, I learnt that not having a happy ending was a definite no no. The response was that women read romance to escape from the drudgery of their own lives and even if their own love life is not all they desire, they want to know that there is hope and that being swept off your feet by a handsome stranger with a fairytale ending does happen – even if only between the pages of a book. The reader needs to feel satisfied that all the conflict and tension has been resolved. But does that mean that the protagonists have to get together and live happily ever after?
This is the question I am dealing with in relation to my next book – a sequel to ‘Seeing The Truth’. Can Kaye have a happy ending to her story without being with Vedat? Does being happy mean that you have to have a significant other to achieve it? Is it unrealistic to expect that all relationships work out in a world where divorce is so common? Real life is not a fairytale. Should I stick to the norm for the genre or shall I break the mould and go for a more realistic ending?
I would be really interested to hear your views.
He helps you get over a previous relationship, divorce, bereavement or a fallow period where you haven’t met anyone for a while. He makes you feel attractive and confident again but you know he’s not The One. He takes you out and has interesting friends but maybe lacks passion or you just simply don’t fancy the pants off him. This is a temporary relationship, a holiday romance or a fling. He’ll do until someone more suitable comes along. Sounds harsh when written down but we’ve all had a relationship like this and as long as you don’t give him false hope, it can be beneficial to both of you.
The Slippery Eel
You can’t pin him down and are never quite sure where he is. You have a sneaky suspicion that he is not 100% faithful. The sex is great and you’ve fallen for him. When you’re together you have a wonderful time but you don’t see him as often as you would like. He always seems to have family or friends who need him or take up his time. He says all the right things and makes you feel special so you want to believe that he could be The One. However, the reality is that he’s probably married.
He is charming and his flattery makes you feel like a queen. He sweeps you off your feet – perhaps a little too quickly. He’s full of big ideas, confident and loves to tell you how important he is. If he doesn’t have influential friends to boast about, he’ll have a sob story about how he lost a lot of money or how he’s from a poor family but if only he had a little help, he could make a lot of money. He makes idle promises but introduces you to his friends and family to make you feel valued. He starts to ask you for money as he has big plans for your future, grooming you for the big request. Then, as soon as he gets what he wants, he’s off like the wind, never to be seen again!
He likes the idea of a foreign wife so that he can impress his friends. He is genuinely interested in you and quickly asks you to marry him. However, as soon as the ring is on your finger, there is a distinct change in his expectations. In reality, he wants a housekeeper to cook, clean and wait on him. He will only eat Turkish food and is happy to eat the same meals week in week out. He no longer wants to engage in lengthy conversations – in fact, the less you say, the better! He starts to criticise the way you dress, wanting you to show less skin and dress more modestly. He spends increasingly more time with his friends, expecting you to stay at home. Occasionally, he will ask you to accompany him to family gatherings or weddings.
He is everything you’d dreamed he’d be. You love everything about him and you have an intense connection which may even be difficult to convey into words. He just “gets you” — finishing your sentences, he is your best friend, and together you have adopted the ‘us against the world mentality’. He feels like your other half. He adores you and wants your babies. Despite obstacles that are thrown in your way: family objections, language barrier, cultural differences, visa restrictions, etc. you overcome them together and are stronger as a result of your struggles. He has the same life goals and is willing to compromise on things for you to be together.
Of course, your man might not fit neatly into any of these categories. Maybe he’s a mixture of a couple. Or he might be an entirely different category that I haven’t mentioned. Let me know!
Congratulations to Rosa Ay who is the winner of my recent giveaway to celebrate the one year anniversary of ‘seeing the Truth’ being published. She wins a signed, personalised copy of ‘Seeing the Truth with matching bookmark.
Thank you to all those who entered.
To celebrate the 1 year anniversary of ‘Seeing the Truth’ being published, I am giving away 1 copy of the book & a matching bookmark. It would be the best holiday read for your summer holiday or a perfect gift for someone who loves romance & life in Turkey.
Not sure? Read the 5* reviews on: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Seeing-Truth…/dp/B01ERO8G8W
For long time, I hesitated about whether to write a sequel to ‘Seeing the Truth’, despite the many requests and pleas for another book to follow on the story of Kaye & Vedat. The main reason for my reluctance was that the relationship which prompted me to begin writing in the first place, is well and truly over. To continue writing about my ex-partner, getting back into his head space, thinking about what his reactions to a particular event would be, hearing his words in my head, triggering memories which I would rather forget, was not something I relished doing. But then, during a guided meditation, the title for the sequel popped into my head. This was followed by several conversations with friends with whom I talked through my reservations and concerns. I thank them for their encouragement (you know who you are!) as I got my head around continuing the story in a way that satisfies the reader’s curiosity about what happened after the end of ‘Seeing the Truth’ and by focusing on the character as Vedat rather then my ex, I began to research how to write a good sequel.
Having read disappointing sequels in the past, I was anxious not to cheat readers by rewriting a large chunk of the previous book in the second but was unsure how to go about doing it. When I read that the sequel should be a stand alone book in its own right, that readers want to know how the characters have changed and how they deal with the consequences of the events of the first book, everything started to become clear. It didn’t take long for the chapter outline of the sequel to take shape. Now all that remains is to write it!
It is widely acknowledged that writing is good for both physical and mental health. Psychologist, James Pennebaker, suggested that writing is beneficial because it enables a person to process his or her thoughts and then disclose them, a variation of the “talking cure” process Freud proposed. Unlike when inner reflections might be censored before sharing them with a therapist, people who write about their thoughts have the option of being as personal and private as they like.
I find writing very therapeutic. Reflecting on past conversations and events helps to clarify my thoughts and analysing my reactions helps me to work through my feelings and even though intense emotions are sometimes evoked it is a cathartic and healing experience. As the famous author of ‘Don Quixote’, de Cervantes said, ‘The pen is the tongue of the mind’. It was only through writing, ‘Seeing the Truth’ that I could see the reality of the relationship I had been in, literally seeing the truth and acknowledging the lies and deceit. Writing gave me perspective and finally publishing the book gave me closure and an enormous sense of release. Plus, it’s cheaper than therapy!
During the writing of ‘Seeing the Truth’ I was conscious that I wanted to dispel some of the myths about Turkish men. Even though Kaye inadvertently has a relationship with a married man, the situation is not black and white and Vedat’s struggle to maintain his family relationships and his relationship with Kaye highlights a common conflict in modern Turkish society. I have been touched by the messages I have received from other foreign women in the same situation who gained great comfort from reading Kaye’s story. It was reassuring for them to know they were not alone and they could identify with Kaye’s plight. I hope to continue to help people benefit from the lessons I learnt in the sequel.
I also wanted to portray Turkey in a positive light. All too often the foreign media presents Turkey as a dangerous, unstable place to visit. I have lived here for sixteen years and have never felt unsafe – in fact I feel safer here than I do in the UK. By using the many different locations in the book, I hoped to give a flavour of the vastness of the country and the variety of landscapes and cultures. From the traditional village in the south east of Turkey, to the tourist resorts on the Aegean coast, from the capital city, Ankara, to the historical and magical landscapes of Cappadokia, I hoped to inspire people to visit Turkey.
The sequel will again have a variety of locations, as we follow Kaye and Vedat on the next stage of their journey. How are they adapting to their new life together? Are there new obstacles for them to overcome? Does their relationship survive? Watch this space….but don’t hold your breath as the first book took years to write! I’m hoping it will be ready to publish next spring. Inşallah!