Celebs Go Dating proved I don’t ‘need’ a man – I’m comfortable on my own & satisfy myself sexually, says Ulrika Jonsson 0 161

NEVER in my wildest dreams did I think that taking part in TV’s Celebs Go Dating would teach me anything. But then you learn something new every day.

I had heard about the show but never seen an episode when I was approached to take part. So my bias, instincts and prejudices knew no bounds.

Olivia West – The SunUlrika never thought she’d be taking part on a dating show[/caption] EROTEME.CO.UKUlrika greets her date on Celebs Go Dating[/caption]

I presumed the programme would have about as much integrity and sincerity as a BoJo statement about Downing Street parties.

Nothing much initially appealed about the show. Contemplating the endurance of going on dates while being filmed made my stomach turn — could there be anything more cringe?

But deep down, I felt that while the show only appeared to embrace young celebs, at 54 and as a mum of four, I deserved a seat at this table.

It’s about representation and a bit of diversity, isn’t it? I’ve been loud and proud about not wishing to go into old age quietly, while also beating the drum for older women.

Besides, the kids need to eat and I need to be kept in anti-ageing cream and bulldogs.

All of the above were my motiv­ations. I had no meaningful hope of meeting anyone of any significance.

So, it all took me somewhat by surprise. Once you’ve signed up, you become part of the “process” rather than a programme. It was intense.

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My good friend and CGD alumni, Kerry Katona, had told me I must do the show because “I’d have a right laugh”. Those words soon began to sound hollow.

The ten-week schedule was full-on and relentless. As someone who is also trying to juggle children and a dog, the long, uncertain hours were stressful at times.
With the exception of Abz Love from Nineties band Five, I had no idea who the others were.

You could deem it a “celebration” of reality stars, with me old enough to be their mother . . . and then some.

So, there I was, on the threshold of a televisual dating process that was controlled by other people, without any direction from me. It felt odd — and absolute madness.

I spent much of past year in the cesspit of dating apps and dating. Something I’ve document­ed in The Sun from time to time. It was a steep learning curve of fake profiles, ghosting and people bailing on me.

Much of my dating was utterly soul-destroying, but I enjoyed some pretty wild, spon­taneous, impetuous, vibrant, electrifying times.

There was passion and “filth” and I even managed to nearly have my heart broken, but dodged the bullet at just the right time.

‘SEXPEDITION’

All those months of dating exper­iences — my little “sexpedition” — may not have led me to the next Mr Right but they taught me that three-and-a-half years post-divorce, I really would like to have someone in my life. But finding someone on a TV show seemed unlikely.

For a start, I wouldn’t exactly be given a choice about who I dated. I would be sent on dates with guys hand-picked and hand-delivered.

There was some comfort in that, at least — knowing that these buggers would actually turn up, unlike the many times last year when guys just bailed on me, sometimes at the last minute. It felt shameful.

As seen in the very first episode on Monday night, we — the ’slebs — were sent on a blind date. I found myself sitting opposite a lanky 58-year-old whose love of himself was endless and who knew more about me than Wikipedia.

I found him dull, verbose and a bit creepy, and got quite agitated by the end of the date. If I’d wanted to date someone who answered their own questions I’d have dated my mum.

“Tal” giving me a six out of ten and saying I’d have to work for a seven only proved to me he was as delusional as he was boring and self-righteous.

I faced other obstacles: People who are intrigued by my waning celebrity status. Sometimes it’s hard being “that bird off the telly”.

My dates were very mixed — both in age and in flavour. Dating on telly is harder than doing so in real life but even the worst ­exper­iences taught me something.

Some of them were fun. Some serious. Many were handsome. Some less so. At one point there may have been some dis­appoint­ment but you learn more from that than a clear run of brilliant dates. And it was a comfort to share these experiences (and the moaning) with the other ’slebs. While I did not know them to begin with, I certainly do now.

I became close to Towie’s Chloe Brockett — an unexpected surprise. I have more love for Abz Love than words can say.

POTTY MOUTH

I so enjoyed long conversations with former Apprentice contestant Ryan-Mark Parsons and Married At First Sight’s Nikita Jasmine.

My one true love turned out to be the astounding Tom Read Wilson, the client coordinator who punctuated our visits to the Celebrity Dating Agency with inspirational and cultural conver­sations, gestures of kindness and a lot of sexual innuendo.

This series is full of honesty, awkwardness and some bits of pure cringe. The biggest surprise was the very real experience you have with the agents Anna Williamson and Paul Brunson. As professional counsellors and life coaches, their input is crucial and adds a gen­uine dimension.

It was enlightening to have two independent, neutral individuals who have no previous knowledge of you and no agenda other than to make you a better version of yourself. They observe you, assess dating techniques, question your thinking and, at times, your behaviour. It’s prob­ably something everyone could benefit from. Espec­ially some of the dates I’ve had.

Anna and Paul helped me along the road to under­standing myself better and, above all, to improve my relationship with myself. They were my champions and I learnt a lot during my time with them. It was like free counselling.

You get feedback from every date — from the person you’ve dated — which is then dissected by Anna and Paul. It’s painful and sometimes hilarious. I shocked myself sometimes. Belching and being the owner of a potty mouth aren’t, apparently, seen as assets in the dating world. I also discovered quite what a people-pleaser I can be, and that is going to take some unlearning.

The agents quickly picked up on some deep-seated, personal weak­nesses, as well as a few strengths — knowledge I will carry forward. This experience makes me stand by what I have always maintained: I don’t “need” a man.

I’m comfortable in my own company. But it sure would be nice to share some fun experiences with someone. I won’t give away any spoilers. Suffice to say, there were a lot of laughs and maybe even some tears.

While my head doesn’t want you to watch the show, my heart thinks you probably should. Besides, what else are you going to do four nights a week for the next five weeks?

PAUlrika Jonsson, Abz Love, Chloe Brockett, Miles Nazaire, Nikita Jasmine and Ryan-Mark Parsons star on Celebs Go Dating[/caption] Rex featuresMy one true love turned out to be the astounding Tom Read Wilson, writes Ulrika[/caption]

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In recent days, the Lensa app, a service that uses a neural network to create drawn portraits, has gone viral. To generate drawings, you have to upload 10 to 20 of your portrait photos to the app, from which the program will generate an avatar. But the app has proven easy to trick so that it creates soft porn.

Internet users say that if you upload topless photos to Lensa, the app disables the NSFW filter and generates nudes. 

In general, the idea of uploading your photos to a questionable app seems bad to many. The owners of the service assure that users’ photos are deleted after 24 hours, but it is impossible to check whether this is true. In addition, such services have repeatedly allowed leaks of users’ personal data.

The Lensa application is a SaaS product of Russian developers Prisma Labs. This is especially disturbing for the residents of Ukraine, where the application has also gone viral: Ukrainian journalists urge citizens not to give their personal data to Russians, because considering the work of Russian special services, no one can guarantee a sufficient level of security when using programs written by the enemy. To use Lensa, each user has to accept the rules – to agree to the training of the neural network in order for it to work more correctly. Photos go to Google Cloud Platform or Amazon Web Services cloud storage – and, according to the developers, are deleted from there in 24 hours after being processed in Lensa. 

Lensa’s creators assure that users remain anonymous. The app doesn’t specifically ask them for access to metadata such as geolocation. However, the metadata that identifies the user can be linked to the photo that the person uploads to the app. But the Lensa team promises that photos are cleared of metadata before they are saved to Lensa systems.For now, Lensa AI is available for private use, although it may well offer its services to corporations. To do so, they will need B2B SaaS marketing.

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