‘Prince Harry has protected his wife against all odds. But here’s why you should ALWAYS google your date before catching feelings’

With over 120k Instagram followers, Lala is the anonymous voice helping womankind through every bump in the road. An established sex, dating and relationship educator, she’s had her fair share of relationship drama and shares her wisdom on social media to a loyal army of followers. Every week thousands turn to her to answer their questions, (no matter how embarrassing), and her funny, frank approach to love and relationships has made her the ultimate feel-good guru.

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We’ve had a week to process the Harry and Megan interview. It has rocked the country and become a media storm. It has divided opinion massively, and it has opened up important conversations about mental health and racism.

I am not here to debate any of that or to cast my views or judgements on either side. What I would like to do though, is look at the lessons that we can learn from it in terms of dating and relationships.

Let’s start with Megan’s admission that she didn’t google Harry when she first met him. This is a rookie error. Especially if your partner’s family is literally the most googleable family in the entire world, but even if they’re not, Googling your new crush is essential as far as I am concerned.

I understand that Megan was probably thinking that most press coverage is wildly inaccurate, and that she didn’t want to be swayed by public opinion of him, but had she known what his Mother had gone through, and the history of the Royal family, then she might have had the heads up that this was going to be more difficult than she anticipated (that does not make any of this her fault of course).

Obviously, most of us aren’t dating celebrities and princes, sadly, but we can still find significant information online that can prevent us from heading into things blindly.

I once googled a guy after two dates with him, only to discover from his local football league’s website that he was 11 years younger than he had told me he was. Had I not done that search I could have ended up catching feelings for someone who was not only a liar, but who was way too young for me.

A friend of mine once went on a few dates with a guy who told her that he was a single investment banker, but a quick google search of his name revealed that he was a struggling magician who did regular shows in Surrey with his wife as magician’s assistant.

Even scarier though, is the case of a woman I once spoke to who had arranged to meet a guy from a dating site. He seemed like a really sweet man, until she googled him and discovered that he had just been released from prison for a string of sex attacks on women.

Doing your research on new people is vital in terms of safety as well as in terms of figuring out whether they are attached or not. Follow them on social media, stalk their pictures, click on some people they’ve tagged, check their LinkedIn.

Gather as much information as possible. Finding yourself twenty clicks deep on their Auntie Sandra’s wedding photos from 2009 is totally reasonable, just make sure that you don’t mention how great the wedding looked when you do go on the date.

The next learning point that we can take from this horrible situation is what to do if your family doesn’t like your partner, or your partner doesn’t like your family. This is very complex and very nuanced, and it is impossible to cover all of the scenarios in which this might occur, but let’s start with your partner not liking your family.

This is potentially a huge red flag for domestic abuse and control. A partner who claims to dislike your family and friends may be trying to distance and isolate you from them so that they can gain complete control of your life without interference.

It usually happens quite subtly. They will make little comments here and there, point out things about how badly your loved ones have treated you, and often they will lie. They may tell your friend that you said something about her and tell you that she said something about you.

They will make you feel as though your friends and family have been against you for years but that you just haven’t noticed it. They will convince you that they are the only one who truly understands you and truly cares about you.

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If you feel that you have become distanced from family and friends as a result of your current relationship then it is important to reach out for support, whether from professionals or loved ones. And if you have a friend or relative who has become isolated due to their relationship then don’t give up on them. Let them know that you are always there for them no matter what.

There may be some instances though, where your family are harmful to your emotional well-being. However, it is unlikely that you would have been unaware of that until your partner came along, you would probably have felt it for many years prior.

Sometimes, our families can be abusive and toxic, and sometimes it is necessary for us to cut them off. There is a support group on Facebook called ‘Necessary family estrangement’ that offers a space for adults who have come to the decision that it is safer, or better for them to stop having a relationship with relatives who are toxic to them.

We all know the old trope about blood being thicker than water, but if that blood is impacting on your life in a harmful way then you are not duty bound to maintain a relationship.

So, what if it’s your family that doesn’t like your partner? This is quite complex. I think it’s clear that if your family doesn’t like them on the basis of a characteristic like their race, gender, class, country of origin, disability, or body size, then it is your family who is it fault. There is no such thing as casual discrimination, we cannot simply say ‘Oh my Dad is a bit old school, so he doesn’t like brown people’. No, your Dad is racist. This must be challenged.

However, if your family’s dislike stems from the way that your partner treats you, or them, then it is important to listen. Especially if you are young. When I was 16, I started dating a 17 year old gang member. He was skinny and short, he looked like a little rat, he was good looking, but he looked sneaky. He wore off key Moschino suits and he had 3 little lines shaved into his left eyebrow and an ‘Only God can judge me’ tattoo on his neck.

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Obviously, I was impressed with this (because I was a 16-year-old buffoon). My Mum wasn’t, she nearly had a heart attack when I first bought him home. She proved that God was definitely not the only one who could judge him but, in my head, when I was 16 my Mum was an absolute idiot. She had no clue about life, and no clue about how important this guy was on the local gang scene.

I didn’t listen to her, but of course, she was right. He ended up stealing my TV remote (of all things), and then disappearing into thin air. I thought he had died, until I saw him on Crimewatch robbing a post office a few weeks later.

It can be hard to see someone’s flaws when we are consumed with lust, and blossoming love. Most of the time our loved ones have got our best interests at heart. They can see things from the outside that are much harder to see from within the relationship.

This doesn’t mean that you should automatically end things with anyone who your family don’t take to, but if your family and friends have been solid throughout your life and they feel suspicious about your partner, then it is worth listening to them and reflecting on whether they might be right.

The final takeaway from all of this, regardless of how you feel about what has happened between Harry & Megan and the Royal family, is that it really is possible to meet men like him. Harry has protected and supported his wife against all odds.

He has done the work to make sure that he understands more about her life as a woman of colour, he has supported her through her darkest days, and he has become a Father and Husband that Diana would be exceedingly proud of. I hope that the little girls who dream about marrying a Prince grow up and find a man like Harry. You don’t have to be royal to expect to be treated like a Queen.

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