I’ve been on a few dates in my time (with a few more to come I suspect) and the more you go on the more you learn about dating and what a bloody minefield it can be. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had some fantastic dates and met some fantastic people. I was taken up the Shard for one of them (one of the better ones, and no pun intended) but my god have I also had some bloody awful ones.
Do you remember a couple of years ago I reviewed the speed dating event “28 gays later”? Well, when I went back (after a 2-year relationship in-between) I took a friend with me and he did everything right and I did everything wrong. He is now with the guy he met that night about to move in together, and I still have my wine and I can’t even have a cat as I rent.
Picture the scene, it’s a cold and wet February evening, I am currently in London Bridge running late from meeting a client and I need to get to Old Street for the speed dating event sharpish. As usual, the tube is being a pain so for part of the journey I am stuffy and hot on a packed tube train and the other half I am cold and wet in the horrible winter weather running from station to bar. By the time I turn up at the venue I look like a drowned and beaten rat that not even a mother could love let alone 26 random strangers (27 minus my friend). I was not feeling it that night but not wanting to let my friend down I rolled with it, put on a brave face and greeted 26 gay men for 3-4 minutes each with the usual “hi, I’m Scott, I do X and I’m from Y. What a horrible evening it is. And who might you be?”.
On reflection, I looked like I didn’t want to be there and that most definitely came across. An injection of humour on my part wasn’t really helping and I allowed my facial expressions to come through when certain men were, shall we say, rather interesting. When the cards came through at the end of the evening of who had chosen who I expected to get very few and low and behold I got very few. I did, however, get the incredibly camp sailor fashion man. He wasn’t for me as I sense he is still trying to find himself but none the less a tick in the box is a tick in the box, right? (I appreciate I am scraping the proverbial barrel here).
That night I learnt a valuable lesson about dating and that impressions and attitude is everything. If your head isn’t in the game, get out of the game. I’ve also learnt the hard way that lads, there are certain things that you should also not do on a date if you want to win the other person over.
To me, a date is an opportunity to sell yourself, see what the other person is selling and see if there is a connection there that is worth exploring. If, for example, you rock up late, have already eaten even though it’s a dinner date, spend 20 minutes talking to your waiter friend then treat the person to a cheap dinner 3 hours later, I think you can safely say that the other person won’t feel any sense of romance. And yes, I was the poor sap that starved for 3 hours thinking we were going for dinner when apparently, we weren’t. Luckily, I was fed cocktails, for which I was eternally grateful as it dulled the pain. We joke about it now but afterwards, I made it very clear dates = romance and that date lacked anything that remotely resembles romance.
A question that always seems to come up on dates is the question about ‘the ex’. And it can come up very easily. A throwaway question like ‘so how comes a handsome man like you is single’ can very easily lead into a dilemma of what to say about the ex (if anything at all). If this happens to you, don’t see this as an opportunity to wave the ‘my ex is a twat banner’ and get on your soapbox. Yes, this poor soul has not heard your war story before but on the early dates is not the place for war stories really. If I see that ex-banner or soap box coming out you will get shut down. We all have baggage, but no one wants to hear about your war wounds on the first date, maybe on future dates with wine and a good old-fashioned bitching session. But not date number one guys, it’s not pretty.
Another thing to avoid is the “I don’t know’ response. Even before the date has been confirmed, responding to someone’s question about where you may want to go with an ‘I don’t know’ is one of the most off-putting things going. If you are indecisive that’s absolutely fine, but say that or at least convey what you are not in the mood for. That ‘meh’ sort of response just gives the impression you couldn’t care less, which for the nervous of you out there, simply isn’t true. Do pluck up the courage to give the soul you are with a little rope that they can work with. He wants to impress you so he needs something to work with!
They say first impressions are over rated, and to these people, I say phooey. First impressions are everything. If you’ve turned up to a nice dinner date in a nice restaurant wearing your best and the other person appears to have made no effort at all, that’s an instant alarm bell. It’s a date for Christ sake, make an effort! It’s not tea at your mum’s, or a dirty burger at 1 AM, it’s meant to be ‘an occasion’. Something to remember and tell the family about. Or am I over complicating it? Well maybe I am, but if you want something that lasts and actually means something, then why not expect decent standards? Since when was that a bad thing? The key is to ensure you tell your date this. Make it clear in your charming way that it is a nice dinner and a nice evening. If they don’t get the hint after that then well at least you tried.
So, some parting advice for you gentlemen. And I do say this with the appreciation that I am currently very much single so cannot say these strategies have bagged me “the one”. When going on a date make sure you have;
Brushed your teeth or at least got a mint to hand
Are prepared for it and ready to listen and ask questions
Are in a flexible mind, so if you do turn up stuffy and wet you can turn it into a conversation point and maybe add a little humour
Have some standard questions in your mind. There is nothing wrong with playing 20 questions, just make sure it flows and works with the conversation
Put the past out of your mind, it’s your date, not your ex’s
Have everything with you, including your wallet!
Remember your manners, even if there is no connection there you were brought up to be polite and enjoy company
And remember, if all else fails, have a strong cocktail and say “fcuk it, it’s something to tell my friends when I get home” (and it beats at indoors, watching Corrie).
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.