It’s been pointed out to me recently that this blog makes dating sound as fun as having to sit an exam naked whilst all your ex boyfriends eat dinner with their new girlfriends in a circle around you.
In my defence, I’ve had some pretty extreme experiences when it comes to dating. I think we all remember the time that a 27-year-old man had a strop about losing his sunglasses and made me crawl into a bush to find them. Or the time that I went out with someone who deemed it acceptable to bring his entire work team with him on our date. Or the time I went out with someone who got so wasted that they stripped naked and posed on an inflatable exercise ba… oh no wait that was me. What a kook I am!
Despite all of this I would count myself among the dating enthusiasts. More and more I hear friends of mine denouncing dating entirely and it makes me sad in my small blackened heart.
With this in mind I’ve put together a handy guide for how to enjoy dating and emerge as unscathed as possible.
Don’t take it too seriously
Dating is by its very nature supposed to be fun! Something which I think is easy to forget when you get bogged down in the fuck-wittery that comes as part and parcel of online dating in particular.
If you head into every date with the serious mission to find the person you’ll spend the rest of your life with you are essentially setting yourself up for failure. You also run the risk of coming across as a super intense mental person.
Case in point, one guy I went on a date with who said “You seem like you’re not that ready to settle down. Do you see kids in your 5-year plan?”
Oh, buddddyyyyyyy I don’t have a plan for how I’m getting home after this horror show that should have been a date yet. Now I’m going to back away slowly as if retreating from a nervous horse whilst muttering soothing excuses about ‘early morning meetings’ and ‘barren ovaries’.
Whilst I believe that some people truly did know on their very first date that they would marry the person sat across the sticky pub table, I think that this is extremely rare. All I know is that no relationship I ever had began with a perfect first date but they were a hell of a lot of fun.
Similarly, I’d like to know how having an extremely fun first date with someone could ever be considered a ‘waste of time’ or a failure if you don’t end up dating them further?
I’ve had some of the silliest, funniest nights of my life on stupid first dates. The time I had a piggy back race across The Dolphin at 6 in the morning, the time me and guy who worked at streetfeast broke into the venue the night before it opened and had a picnic on the roof, the time when a date and I sat on the side of the canal and drank four bottles of red wine whilst trying not to get hit by houseboats. * What larks!
*This was major larks until I sicked red wine inside my jumpsuit and had to make hasty excuses to go home
I wouldn’t have swapped those evenings for watching tv in my pjs for anything.
Don’t stick to your type
I used to think that the only men worth dating were tall, dark and extremely handsome – usually sporting some kind of long beard, facial piercing and tattoos.
Does anyone want to take a wild flying guess at how that turned out?
Well not in marriage, babies and a joint travelling tattoo business did it.
Having been off dating apps for quite a while now (I know I’m sorry tinder, who will date all the hideous hipster dickheads on your books now?!) I’ve found meeting people in real life quite illuminating.
Turns out that the people I most enjoy hanging out with look nothing like the picture I had in my head.
The problem with online dating is that you’re forced to judge whether you’ll click with a person from a carefully selected array of photographs designed to show them in their best light.
Do you think that I resemble any of the pictures on my tinder profile when I’m sat at work on a Monday morning trying to remember why I thought it was a good idea to sink two bottles of red wine at the pub like a greedy old sponge?
No sir I do not.
And even if I did appearance alone is no guarantee of attraction. So whether you’re online dating or meeting people in real life don’t limit yourself to what you think you want – you might meet someone amazing that you would have swiped right past.
It’s all a big learning curve
Dating has taught me a lot. It’s taught me that pink wine makes you mad, bad and slutty. It’s taught me that you should always eat at least two sandwiches before turning up to meet a stranger. It’s taught me that I have the decorum of a confused buffalo in a china shop.
Seriously though, going on dates has taught me so much more about what I want and most importantly what I don’t want.
For example: when, fresh from a breakup, I went on the worst date of my life ever (read all about it why don’tcha) I ignored every impulse in my body to get up and leave until the very last minute. Whenever I re-tell that story to my pals the main refrain is ‘why the hell didn’t you leave!’
Because it was only my third first date ever and I was trapped in a prison cell of overly British politeness and hopeless romantic naivety that’s WHY.
Fast forward two years (any takers? Anyone??) and I found myself in the pub with an equally fascinating specimen (full account coming soon). Edited highlights are as follows: asked me if I ‘fuck on a first date’ (sorry mum it was him not me), showed me (what I can only assume to be a generous estimate) of the size of his penis with his hands, asked me how much I earned and when I told him said ‘Jesus I should have got YOU to buy the drinks’ which was frankly worrying as I earned roughly the same as a dormouse at the time.
My point is this time, instead of sticking it out to the bitter end, I made an executive decision. The sun was shining, I’d washed my hair and I was having a miserable time. So I texted my friend H and bid my date goodbye, leaving him to finish his half pint he had demanded I buy him to ‘pay him back’ for my extremely small wine.*
*just as a side note to all the gentlemen out there. If you OFFER to buy a drink don’t say ‘something cheap though yeah?’ and then shout SMALL at the barman when he asks what size you’d like. We’d really rather just buy it ourselves.
My point is – dating one terrible arsehole had taught me all I needed to know about this brand-new arsehole. i.e. I’d be much happier far away from his general presence. And it felt brill.
It’s nothing personal
I went through a really fun period of thinking that if a guy didn’t want to go on a second date with me that must be something hideously wrong with me.
Ah the good old days!*
*sitting on the kitchen counter in my t-shirt and pants, snivelling and alternating between a bottle of old limoncello and Nutella wailing things like ‘I think it’s because my knees are fat! I knew I should have worn a midi skirt!’. Those good old days.
The problem is that if you take it personally you can lose sight of whether you even liked the person in the first place. Chances are, if they didn’t feel it with you then you probably weren’t 100% feeling it either. Remember that you can be the nicest, hottest person alive but if there isn’t a spark there really is no point and there’s bugger all you can do to control that.
Not only does taking it personally when someone doesn’t want to date you affect your self-esteem but it can also spell trouble for the future.
During a mature and informed debate with my friend H the other week on the subject of ghosting* he admitted that ghosting is often a preferable option to being chewed out for simply not wanting another date.
*Slurring at him across a table ‘YOU COWARDLY…HIC…CUSTARD…BUSTARD…WE’RE ONLY MENTAL COS YOU MAKE US MENTAL’ whilst jabbing a finger in the rough area of his weary face.
Whilst it’s important not to assume that you have as much sexual appeal as a walrus on steroids if you’re rejected for a second date, I must make a case for not taking it out on the other person.
I’m just as guilty as the next insecure land mammal when it comes to this and I will admit to sending the odd snarky response or two when greeted with the inevitable ‘So look, I had loads of fun last night but…’ text of doom.
But let’s try and keep this in perspective shall we. If you’ve only been on a couple of dates with the rejecter in question it really is better to take a deep breath, swallow the bitter pill of rejection and just say thank you and good night.
I recently went on a date with a really nice handsome human being who I immediately decided I was pretty keen on. Things were going pretty well at first until one day when proposing we go and drown ourselves in alcohol on a school night I was hit with this:
“yeah could be good. I’m quite busy though I’ll have to check”
FUCK MY LIFE
I wanted to reply
“ok cool why don’t you go and ‘check’ your overflowing diary you smarmy social butterfly whilst I ‘check’ if I found the stand-up routine you performed to me on our last date at all amusing… cool I checked and it’s a NOPE from me.”
But instead I put my grown-up hat on and said
“Ok cool check but equally if you’re not feeling it you can let me know”
Let’s have a show of hands who thinks this ends with a profuse apology, flowers couriered to my desk and a smug Facebook pic of my tear stained face as I brandish a glinting diamond to the camera with the caption ‘oh go on then #thesmugintonsgethitched’.
Put your hands down you fools!
“Yeah I feel like a dick but I’m just not feeling it”
OUCH THAT HURTS.
I think about a year ago he would have been on the receiving end of a lecture on not leading girls on and how dare you have been nice to me across a table in a pub for a few hours and then not wanted to marry me you BASTARD. Ps your hair is shit and I hate your shirts the end!
Instead I remembered my conversation with H and sent this
“Ah – you should have just said – don’t worry! It was nice to meet you and good luck with everything 😊”
Then I deleted his number, went to my spinning class and then went to a bar with NSF and spent the evening creating ‘the world’s tallest man’ by sitting on the shoulders of an extremely tall American man and buttoning his coat up over us. The bartenders pretended they weren’t impressed but…I think they were. Deep down.
My point is life went on and I felt so much better for not tearing a piece out of the guy. Acting fine and like it was no big deal meant I actually ended up feeling fine and realised that it actually wasn’t a big deal. Plus, H gave me a high five and he usually condones all my activities to sit somewhere in the realm of ‘mental banshee witch’ so it felt like a massive win.
PS: I did let myself down slightly when, two weeks later, said ‘not feeling it’ bloke passed my number on to his flatmate without my permission. When he messaged me asking me how my ahem ‘funky Friday’ was going I was unfortunately drunk and feeling rather strident. Which may explain how I ended up shouting ‘YOU CAN’T JUST PASS ME ROUND LIKE A FUCKING…MALTEASER’.
Sigh. So close yet…
Remember there’s always a cracking story at the end of it
I’ve most definitely had some absolutely shocking dates. Let’s make no bones about that shall we. A cursory glance at my blog is evidence enough of this.
When you’re sat at the slot machines with a fat man named Barry whilst your date does shots across the pub with the rest of his work mates he inexplicably invited on your date you may imagine that you will never be able to laugh about it.
But you will.
I’ve regaled my mates (and all of you) with many a tale of dates gone bad, weird and just plain mental and they’ve done the same to me.
My friend G went on a date with a guy who took her to costa and brought a Harry Potter sticker book with him for her to LOOK at, not keep as a gift, just for show and tell.
My friend K dated a guy who told a weird joke about his dad dying at which point she burst into extremely drunken hysterical sobbing snotty tears whilst he stood awkwardly watching her.
My friend A’s work colleague went on a date with a guy who took her to a TGI Fridays and said ‘TAHHH DAHHHHH’ as they walked in as if it was a really nice posh treat. He then watched her drunkenly wee down an alley way.
So chin up and god speed. You can do this! And if you have any tales of woe – send them my way for it gives me such joy!