Bad dates, boring dates and crying in public: Why it's important not to settle. Sometimes dying alone seems like a more exciting option.
I’m going to give you a moment to sit down before I start this one. Ok, ready? I went on a date a couple of weeks ago. Nothing particularly shocking about that statement, as I go on literally hundreds of dates a year. A handsome stallion of a man such as myself being single in a big city means there’s plenty of potential suitors for me to go out and be disappointed by. No, the shocking bit here is that I didn’t include the word “bad”.
Because it wasn’t a bad date. The stream of disappointment might have worn down my standards a bit, but I’d go so far as to say it was actually a good date. He was handsome, charming, chatty… There was a perfect mix of interesting conversation, weapons-grade flirting and eventually hardcore banging to definitely put things into the ‘good date’ category. Which, frankly, is a bit weird.
I’m much more used to bad dates, although it takes a bit to get into the genuinely bad date territory. Usually these things land somewhere in BoringTown, which is on the border of Bad Dates land, but certainly not the capital city. A fine example of this was someone I had dinner with a few years ago. We went out, it was… Ok? I guess. It was like having dinner with a relative I didn’t see very often… Nothing much to talk about, and the conversation was polite at best, but certainly not scintillating.
Par for the course, usually, until on the tube on the way home, when I mentioned I was going to have to change tube lines to get home and he realised I wasn’t going home with him. He actually started to cry. On the tube. In public. Loudly. Proper ugly crying. Because I didn’t want to go home with him. Which should have been flattering, but I’m English. We don’t do human emotions in public, other than impatience and out-and-out rage. I tried explaining that I wasn’t really feeling it, and there was no chemistry, but that just made the crying louder, and drew disapproving tuts from others in the carriage. I’m honestly not sure to this day if they were tutting at him bawling all over the place or at me for being a heartless monster. Luckily, just as the rest of the carriage were going to shame me into marrying him just to shut him up, the tube doors opened and I got off. It wasn’t my stop, but fuck that noise.
That’s a bit of an extreme example, though. A more usual thing is people who’re just really hard to talk to but think they’re being arch, or mysterious. Like… Giving a witty answer to question is great - I love a bit of wit. Much more fun than just robotic question-answer session State name. State job. State maximum number of implements to be used during sex. But a key part of the witty answer is giving the fucking answer. If I have to ask the same question twice because the first time was “witty” but useless, I’ll start thinking up ways to get out of there.
One guy I had drinks with was, I think, trying to cultivate a bit of mystique by trying to be charmingly oblique whenever I asked him a question, which might be fun in theory, but in reality getting an answer out of him was like pulling teeth. All he cultivated was my urge to drown him in his pint. At one point I asked what he did for a living, and he actually said “If I told you, I’d have to kill you.” and my first thought was “Oh my god. Yes. Do it now. Bullet between the eyes. Let’s end this now.” Although I did end up shagging him. Not because the date got better, just because sometimes you sit through an hour or two of painful conversations and think “Ya know what, fuck it. I’ve given up my night to this tedium. He’s cute and physically sexy. I might as well see him naked and maybe get an orgasm out of it.” Which is probably the wrong attitude to take, because that’s reinforcing the wrong behavior. But since my parole officer says bad dates don’t count towards Community Service, I’m gonna want to get something out of it, even if it’s just 10 minutes of awkwardness and a trip to the clap clinic. Besides, sex is often a great way to shut someone up. Depends on what you stick in their mouth, of course...
The thing is, with the good date guy, I’m not really sure what to do next. This is genuinely new territory for me. Part of me was saying “Quick! Buy a dog and move in with him. Marry the fucker. Whatever it takes to lock him down before he meets someone else, or dies horribly, or whatever else it is that tends to happen to guys after a good first date!
But another part of me is a lot more cynical and jaded and knows that it might have been a fluke, or a one-off or some particularly strong gin… What if spending more time with him quickly destroys the facade of a good date? Like, having a slice of cake. No matter how tasty and moist and pert that slice of cake might have been, a second helping isn’t going to be as good. And you’ll soon start to feel sick.
That’s not to say I’m not going to see him again, of course. I have next to no impulse control when it comes to putting things in my mouth, so I’m not only going to have the second slice, but probably a good chunk of the rest of the cake, too, because moderation is for schoolgirls and diabetics. Anyway.
I think the absolute worst date I went on (I should probably say “The absolute worst date I’ve ever been on SO FAR, shouldn’t I? Let’s not tempt that one.) Anyway, it was actually with a guy I’d been seeing for quite a while, maybe a couple of months. I’d actually started thinking of him as potential boyfriend material. Which was quite exciting. I’d never thought about a guy like that, apart from Jason Momoa, obviously. So yeah, we hung out one day, went shopping for something or other, and then went for a drink afterwards in town. We made out a little, nothing particularly salacious, but nice enough. When it was his round, I asked for a gin and tonic, and excused myself to the toilet while he was at the bar. I came back and there were two pints of beer on the table.
“Oh, did.. Did you get me a beer?” I asked, a bit confused. He looked shifty, and said “No… I got talking to someone at the bar and he bought them…” “He bought us both beers? That’s nice, if a little odd…” “No, that one’s his, he’s just paying for them now. You should probably go…”
I think they ended up getting married eventually, so I’m glad things turned out for the best. Sorry, I pronounced that wrong, I hope they choke on their own smug. I mean, I’m all good with everyone getting their happily ever afters and whatever, but I don’t remember signing up to be the witty comic relief in someone else’s life story.
What about me? Where’s my happy ending? Which, incidentally, is a phrase I find myself using more and more after sex.
Although, to be honest, I’ve been single for so long at this point that I’m not entirely certain what I’d do if I found myself on a string of good dates with one guy. I mean, I’m sure that I can make room in my brain for a more positive response when opening my eyes in a morning than “Ugh. You again. What?” but I’ve no idea what comes next.
I asked a friend of mine and his BF are obnoxiously happy, so I asked them how they got together, and he said “I realised I loved him when we were doing lines of coke off one another’s dicks in a cubicle at G-A-Y Late”. And if that’s what it takes, I’m destined to be single forever. G-A-Y Late? Fuck right off.
Here’s the thing though, being single forever isn’t a bad thing. I know we’re all conditioned to believe that our lives are lacking until we find one person to spend it with, and that somehow they complete us, as if we’re big fleshy jigsaw puzzles or something, but it’s not true.
One of the reasons I don’t settle, that I’m ok with a bad date being a bad date then just walking away and not trying to stick with it, is that I’m already in a relationship with a guy. Me. And you know what, I think I might be the one.
I know how stupid this sounds, but think about it - whoever else is around, you can’t rely on them being there forever. And you certainly shouldn’t rely on them to make you happy, or to feel worthy. That’s not their job, it’s yours. Making other people responsible for your happiness is a recipe for disappointment and misery. I’m not saying don’t find happiness in relationships with others, but make sure you have it in your relationship with yourself, too.
The only person you’re going to spend your entire life with is you, so you might as well enjoy it. In fact, even when you’re having a relationship with someone else, you’re still having the one with yourself. I’ve said ‘relationship’ too many times, now.
If you’re anything like me, then you’re far more critical of yourself than anyone else is. Consider the way you think of yourself for a moment. Think about the way you refer to yourself in the privacy of your own head. If you heard someone else talk about a mate of yours in that same way that you think about yourself, you’d be shocked, right? So why allow it from yourself?
Give yourself permission to like yourself. Just for a minute, allow yourself to be good enough. Even if it’s just for a second, shush the critical, nasty voices inside your head and replace them with supportive, loving thoughts. Then practise. Start there and really practise loving yourself, for a few seconds each time, until you can build it up to minutes, hours… It takes practise, But it’s worth it.
That way, you don’t have to settle for an ok date, and you can hold out for a really, really good one without getting desperate. Because that’s what you deserve. Someone who ticks all your boxes.
And so that’s why I’m not putting all my eggs in one bastard with this guy. We had a good date, and I hope we’ll have more. But if not, then I still have me, and I’m pretty awesome. But y’know, if this handsome gentleman with a wicked sense of humour, pretty eyes and an arse I could spank until my hand falls off thinks so too, then so much the better.