Who hasn’t dated the wrong guy?We’ve all done a Gladys.



I don’t have to imagine how Gladys Berejiklian feels about her personal life blowing up in her face. It has happened to me too.

I can also relate to how she feels to having discovered her guy wasn’t THE ONE.

And how she has felt navigating the Australian political world as a single woman, (well not entirely single, as she is obviously single but dating). 

But I can only imagine how she has felt having the whole thing splattered all over the press, with judgement of her romantic decisions being discussed at dinner parties and radio chat shows all over Sydney.

I have felt sad this week, watching her personal life and her subsequent romance unravel. Far too much detail has been exposed to the world. Politics is one thing, and yes, she needs to be held accountable, but she’s still a human and a woman. A single woman. Do we really need to know the pet names they had for each other for example?

And a woman doing an incredible job as NSW Premier running the state during what must go down as one of the worst years to be in politics anywhere in the world this century. A quick look north and south at her political counterparts in Australia reveals states in a complete pandemic mess compared to New South Wales.

She has handled it all with grace and style.

It’s hard for a lot of people to imagine what the dating world has been like for her unless you’re a single woman in your 40’s. I am. And Sydney is a very tough town in which to date, and it’s pretty special to find someone you want to come home to. Someone to pick up the phone to for an opinion or just for an idle chat. She was 45 when she met Maguire.

The mistake she made was dating someone in politics. One of the most basic dating rules is don’t date someone at work, as it will inevitably complicate things at best. And in so many cases, that scenario ends with at least one person or both having to leave their job.

Bur hers isn’t just any job, and the demands and hours are extreme. Finding a man who understands all that let alone can cope with that (from a woman) would be very, very tough. Oh, and she also has to be attracted to him and want to have a relationship with him. There’s a lot of boxes for Gladys to tick to even consider dating someone.

And I do not blame her for a moment for keeping the relationship quiet. The minute it went public, the press would have been looking for fodder on an ongoing basis. I have worked as a political reporter, and the lengths we were told to go to to get personal scraps of information was unbelievable, a disgrace.

A quick google of Julia Gillard’s personal life brings up reams of stories on her hairdresser partner. The press just can’t get enough of high profile women and their dating lives.

I have been at it, the single and dating thing, for over a decade. And on the whole, Sydney is tough on women who are single and ambitious let alone successful. The guy is either too young, too old, too friendly, not friendly enough….you get the picture.You are judged at every turn.

In my experience, Europe is gentler.

Gladys was fortunate to find someone  in her 40’s with whom she had enough of a connection and sufficient in common with to have a five year relationship. Wow. I still haven’t found that yet. It must have been love.

So lets forgive her for dating someone “at work” for the moment.

But dating a bad guy? Well most my friends say you haven’t really dated until you’ve had at least one of those. I really can’t comment on her choice of Daryl Maguire as I haven’t met the man. But I have also dated a bad guy, and it did end up in the press, and it was unpleasant at best, and absolutely heartbreaking at worst.

There was a lot of crying involved. And shame on my part. It hurt.

For the woman, it’s not actually about how bad the guy is or what it was that he did or didn’t do that was so terrible.

The pain is about herself. I found myself asking “How could I have got this so wrong?, Why didn’t I see the signs earlier? Why did I open up to this person? Why did I let him get close to me? Why didn’t I see through him? Why didn’t I ask more questions about X, Y and Z”. The questions went on and on in my mind. For months.

I felt like a fool.

We blame ourselves.  And the catastrophic fall out – which for me went on for 3 years – left me with a sense of disbelief and numbness. “Why did this happen to me? How did I contribute to this situation? How can the reality of this person be so far removed from my experience?”

So I can only guess Gladys is feeling at least some of the above. She only broke up with him according to media reports in August. Two months ago. Which means its raw, very raw, and she is likely in a world of pain.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I don’t think she needs any more strength. She needs love, understanding and forgiveness.

She has been quoted as saying she has given up on love, just as I did when I went through the same thing. But I hope that when this passes, she finds someone kind, and supportive, who gets her, and who chooses her. Maybe just not someone in politics.

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Renae Leith-Manos


Renae Leith-Manos travels the world writing (www.renaesworld.com.au). She has had a colourful media career as a journalist in many magazines and newspapers, and spends her time writing, consulting to new businesses, running, doing yoga, swimming & cycling.
She's likes healthy eating, but thinks chocolate cake is just as important as kale chips.
She spends most weekends hanging out with her gorgeous twins.

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