Okay, I will understand if you don’t want to take dating advice from someone who is a long-term member of the singleton club and always gets dumped once actually in a relationship… BUT whilst I may be quite clearly terrible at relationships, I consider myself to know a thing or two about the dating game – specifically that early stage of dating after you first meet, where you’re still texting and trying to suss each other out.
Based on my years of sad experience after sad experience, I have compiled this list of Dos and Don’ts to help us all tread through the waters of the dating ocean without accidentally thrusting our foot into the jaws of a piranha.
Still with me? Hurrah. Let’s begin…
RULE NUMBER 1: DO THINK THROUGH YOUR TEXTING TACTICS
When you’re in the early stages of getting to know someone, most of your communication is probably done via text/whatsapp/Snapchat. By now, we all know about the basics of dating texting etiquette; whether you like to admit you indulge in these childish games or not. For example, if they leave it an hour before texting back, you leave it an hour and a half before texting back. Secondly, you want to come across as a sociable person so you exaggerate your daily activities slightly. You “just went out for a few drinks after work” when actually you popped to the Tesco Extra to get a bottle of Fanta, and you’ve just had “a chilled night with a couple of mates and a takeaway” when actually that chilled night was spent completely by yourself, eating Curly Fries and watching 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo' marathons.
A general rule is that if you don’t have anything interesting to text then probably just don’t bother. I was once texting a boy who seemed to have good potential, only for him to ruin it one night by texting me “Are you watching Corrie?” What? No I’m not watching Corrie, and if I was watching Corrie then we are not at that point in a relationship where we’re going to make conversation about watching Corrie. I don’t know, maybe it was a really interesting episode of Corrie that night, but it was a texting faux pas that automatically put me off said soap fan.
RULE NUMBER 2: DO RECOGNISE WHEN IT’S NOT GOING WELL
This can apply to texting, but mainly this is a rule for the date itself. First dates can be painful, but nothing is more painful than one party being obviously not interested while the other one thinks that this is the beginning of a beautiful thing.
I once agreed to go on a date with a boy who, in the texting build up, I thought I really liked. Once we got out on the date though, I swiftly realized that this wasn’t for me. I don’t know why, maybe it was because he had a pair of those pretend glasses on, which automatically signaled to me that he was a douchebag. Anyway, I suffered through a few drinks in the pub we went to and with each drink my mood was quite visibly drooping.
At one point he popped out for a fag (which I refused to join him on because “I don’t want to” – I really was being a bit of a bitch by this stage) and the barman came over to me to ask if we were on a first date, because all the staff thought it was really obviously awkward and I wasn’t having a good time. I debated asking the barman if he would like to join me on the date instead, but decided in the interest of civil politeness I would wait for my date to return from the smoking area so we could leave.
Upon his return though, he suggested us going onto a second bar. What? How could he not tell that this was going awfully? I tried to make my excuses – “Oh, well I’ve actually got to go and get my train, the last one’s at half 10 so…” but then he just said he would pay for my taxi home. I didn’t quite have it in me to say “NO you twerp, I’m leaving” (unfortunately I’m not that much of a bitch) so I ended up being trapped on the date for another 3 hours and 2 more bars.
You know how on The Undateables, they always have to take a chaperone with them? I basically wish all dates could be like that, and when their fake glasses annoyed you, you could quickly signal to your chaperone who would come over to help you put your coat on and explain to your date that you would now be leaving.
My advice here is: learn to recognise the signals that the person no longer wants to be there. Particularly if they say OUT LOUD that they want to go. Let them.
RULE NUMBER 3: DON’T BE TOO KEEN
And so I save the most important for last. There is nothing more unattractive than somebody who comes on too strong and makes it too clear that they like you loads, like mega loads.
Case in point: I recently agreed to a date. This man was ex-army and now a personal trainer at my gym, so you would think he’d be the strong silent type. Wrong. After just a day or two of the initial texting game, he started talking about how much he was looking forward to our date. Okay, nothing wrong with a bit of interest. But then a couple of days before the date, he text a phrase that will forever haunt my dating memories:
“Yeah, I’ve had a bit of a shit day. But it’s okay because it’s only two more sleeps til I get to see you.”
TWO MORE SLEEPS. What am I, Christmas?! I was at this point violently sick into my own lap at this awful show of keeno. Looking back, this should have been enough to make me delete his number and change gyms there and then; but I decided to swallow down my vomit reservations and still go on the date. Mistake. Following said date – which was lacklustre at best – he proceeded to text me incessantly telling me how much he liked me, asking for feedback on the date (yes, really) and seeking constant reassurance that I wanted to go on a second date with him. Did I? Let’s put it this way: I am now at a new gym.
Now, I’m not saying that we don’t all fall prey to the keen gene now and then. A couple of years ago I was seeing a lad who I was borderline obsessed with, and I liked him so much that one night I ended up drunk outside his house wrapped in a bit of old carpet – but that’s a story for another day (i.e. 17th of Neverember). But why was I so unbelievably keen with that boy? Because he was so unbelievably not keen on me. Ah, the old adage is true: treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em wrapped in the carpet.
Basically, no matter how much you like someone and think they’re The One, you have to keep your feelings to yourself. At least at first. Lady Gaga knows/