Category Archives: Bad dates

The breakup: Matthew the hot controller

Until my current relationship, I had always believed there was a price to pay for going out with a beautiful man.

Every Adonis I met seemed to come with their very own set of hang-ups. While they would hide these shortcomings from you at first, only the very best of actors could keep up the pretence long enough to make a lasting relationship out of it. And let’s just say I’m yet to screw an Oscar winner.

Matthew was beautiful, there was no getting away from that. From that very first date, when he had charmed me into taking him home with a little boy lost routine that I now look back upon and feel slightly green around the gills, his confidence and good looks fooled me completely. His eyes were so huge and dark, they made him seem vulnerable. I didn’t realise then the depths of darkness within.

In fairness, he’d warned me that he had left endless broken hearts behind him, but I mistook it as an attempt to get sympathy, and also a challenge. While I knew in my heart he was only good for one night, I was lonely. Plus, heads turned whenever we went anywhere. I told myself that I was more than up to the task of keeping this lothario on the straight and narrow. My vanity nearly destroyed me.

When the first glitch in a courtship appears, it’s like that moment when you realise that to get that super fast, super cheap internet, you need to fork out for line rental.

Matthew’s ‘line rental’ was his need to have a say in absolutely everything we did together – even if it was a “you day”, a rare opportunity where I got to suggest what we did on a date. (I always said “the pub.”)

He would insist on a “you day” as he didn’t “like to do all the thinking”, yet beyond telling me how much he hated my date ideas, he didn’t think very much at all.

If I booked a restaurant, he would immediately say he’d heard it wasn’t good or that he thought it was inconvenient to get to. Getting served was a trial, because Matthew liked to be the one doing the ordering. If I hadn’t decided what I wanted and told Matthew my choices before the waiter came to the table, he sent him away again.

Any dates he’d suggest would be prefaced with a text, an hour or two in advance, asking what I was wearing and, on being told, a series of further texts, ‘advising’ me on what might be better.

I began to feel downtrodden, like all my spirit was draining from me. I would arrive home from our dates not exhilarated at the potential relationship, but exhausted, weak with the effort of treading on eggshells lest Matthew got into a mood, which he did more often than not.

Friends asked how the dating was going and I wouldn’t know what to say. I pretended I hadn’t met anyone interesting yet. I knew I didn’t want a relationship with Matthew, but going out on endless dates and meeting Mr Wrong was starting to take its toll. I didn’t want boozy nights out or awkward walks in the park with a series of strangers – I wanted to hear a familiar voice and have sex with a body I knew and hands that knew mine. And while it was very good, it wasn’t good enough to make me want to hold on to Matthew.

There has to be a last straw and it came, as I guess I always knew it would, in a restaurant. It was bank holiday Monday and we hadn’t made any reservations so couldn’t find a table at most places we tried. We ended up going to a place that was more of a bar, packed with people getting drunk on the second cheapest bottle off the wine list.

Matthew was in a bad mood because I’d worn shorts and he hadn’t thought to, so he was too warm. He hated the table we were seated at and thought the guy who’d shown us to it was rude. When I couldn’t decide what to have, he tutted loudly and kept reminding me how hungry he was. When another waiter came to take our order, he was astonishingly good-looking, and all of a sudden I became invisible, while Matthew lavished upon our delighted server the charm I hadn’t seen since our second date.

It was a grotesque show; I was embarrassed for them both. Matthew, clearly too chicken-shit to dump me, was letting me know there would always be someone else round the corner lapping up those looks and, on the surface, amiable patter.

If this were a movie, I’d have stood up and made a dramatic, empowering speech, before upending the table and striding out of the restaurant. But movies are movies and this was a bank holiday in central London, not LA, so I sat and ate in near silence while Matthew grumbled about everything – the food, the fact I hadn’t thought to remind him to book anywhere, how I was too casually dressed. Me me me, basically – and for all the wrong reasons.

I had forgotten how difficult it is to swallow food when you’re trying so hard not to cry.

When the bill came, he quibbled over something on it and called the waiter – a different one, thank God – over. He was embarrassing himself yet again, slurring from the two glasses of plonk he’d hoovered up in about 25 minutes.

As Matthew was doing such a bad job at explaining the issue, I interjected and clarified in the hope I could bring an end to it. As the waiter accepted what I said and went off to correct the bill, Matthew snarled: “Don’t do that.”


“When I’m talking to the waiter, don’t interrupt. It’s nothing to do with you.”

I swallowed hard. “I was only trying to help.”

He raised his voice. “I don’t need your help. Mind your own fucking business.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “You were showing yourself up, Matthew, much like you are now. I just wanted to get it sorted so we could get out of here.”

It was then that Matthew tried his very own Hollywood move. He swilled the few remaining drops of wine round his glass before flicking the glass at me. The wine missed me – there wasn’t much of it – but I knew this would be just the beginning if I let it.

“Look,” I said in a calming voice. “I’m sorry. I won’t do it again. I’ll pay for this. Why don’t you go wait outside and get some air?”

Matthew shrugged and slumped out of the door. I saw him outside through the window, skulking with the blackest of looks on his face. The night of the long knives was ahead of me and I was in no hurry for it to start.

I paid the bill, leaving no tip, and, gently pushing my chair back, headed to the fire exit I’d noticed as we came in.

I quickly pushed the lever to open the door and, with the door’s alarm ringing in my ears, I ran and ran and ran until I could neither hear the siren nor breathe to run any faster. I turned my phone off, my music up and I never again saw Matthew’s cruel, beautiful face.

For a while afterward, I would arrive at dates and surreptitiously check to see where the nearest alternative way out was, just in case.

I can’t tell you how happy I am not to need those emergency exits any more.

Image: brookemackay on Flickr

The Plus One

“I’m going to a friend’s for dinner on Friday. Come.”

I should say “No thank you, Toby; it’s only our second date”. I don’t.

“Is there anything you don’t eat?”

I should tell him about my phobia of celeriac and meringues. I don’t.

When I ask “What shall I bring?” and he replies “Nothing, just yourself!” I should listen, but I don’t.

When Toby spies the prosecco I’m clutching to my chest as we arrive and tells me “You can’t bring that; they’re teetotal and Polly won’t have it in the house” I should hang on to it, but I don’t. I leave it by the doorstep.

Polly answers the door and eyes me with the same suspicion a white carpet would afford a dog with diarrhoea. I should scowl back. I don’t.

When Polly’s boyfriend Max sloshes elderflower cordial into my wine glass, I shouldn’t quip that it’s a waste of a perfectly good glass, but I do. Max shouldn’t laugh and wink conspiratorially. But he does.

As Polly serves up every food I’ve ever hated in my life, with the icy glare of a serial killer, I should politely decline the offer of pudding, despite eating nothing of the main course. But I don’t.

When Polly goes on and on about Toby’s previous boyfriends, all of them beautiful demigods who adored Polly and would probably have turned straight for had she asked, I should defend myself, or step up my patter in an attempt to impress her. But I don’t care what she thinks, so I nod politely and play with my napkin.

As I laugh uproariously at one of Max’s jokes and see, out of the corner of my eye, Toby’s face fall, I should tone it down and pay more attention to the date who’s barely said a word to me all night. But I can’t. Why get out of Max’s sleek limousine of a conversation only to clamber into Toby and Polly’s knackered old Nissan Micra chit-chat?

When Max and I are stacking the dishwasher and he confesses to me he’s bored rigid living with Polly, I should act surprised and encourage them to stay together. But I’m not, so I don’t.

Usually when a man tells you his problems, he’s hoping you’ll solve them, so perhaps I should pretend we’re in a film and put my hand on his leg and stroke my mouth suggestively. But I don’t want to turn a horrendous evening into an apocalyptic one, so my hands stay where they are.

When I walk back into the lounge, it is obvious I have been getting an absolute skewering from Polly, as her and Toby redden immediately. I can see Toby running back to one of those holy exes within a month – Polly wouldn’t have it any other way.

When it’s time to leave and Max says he’s looking forward to seeing Toby and me again really soon, I should tell him that’s extremely unlikely, but I don’t.

When Toby makes it clear he’s going straight home and says he’ll call me, I should feel sorry and protest a little, but I don’t. Instead I proffer my cheek and he pecks it politely, begrudgingly, finally.

Perhaps I should feel sad that I’ll never see Toby again, but I do not – I feel a rush of relief or elation. The regret may come later, but it will be brief and I’ll have probably have somebody else close to hand to take my mind off it.

I shouldn’t pick up that abandoned bottle of prosecco from the doorstep and drink it on the bus on the way home. But I do. And that turns out to be the best part of the evening.

Stats: 32, 5’9″, auburn/blue, Newcastle
Pre-date rating: 8/10
Post-date rating: 3.5/10 – that score’s for me, really, isn’t it?

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly dating column I used to do in Gay Times magazine. I now answer GT readers’ dilemmas and dole out relationship advice. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

The breakup: Mark and the herpes simplex complex

Oh, Mark. Mark and I had started off so well, with a humorously disastrous date in a museum followed by one too many drinks in a boozer laughing over how bad it had been. That first night ended with a drunken kiss, and half-hearted torso fumbling before we parted at a bus stop, sparks of sexual energy fizzing out of every pore as I watched his bus pull away.

As time passed by, I could just about cope with him insisting on trying to put all his fingers in my mouth during a passionate embrace and I was willing to overlook his taste in socks – always black, always ill-fitting and bobbly. I even cast aside any doubts I had when he insisted on smoking out of my kitchen window and putting his fags out in half-finished cups of tea. The breaking point came when nature intervened and, about three weeks into our courtship, I got a cold sore.

It wasn’t unusual for me to get a cold sore when kissing someone new – indeed I soon came to view it as a ‘sign’ that the relationship was probably destined for failure. Lusty mouths carry God knows what inside them, and I could often be found submerged in Bonjela and Corosdyl, my mouth a gaping scarlet letter – its shame for all to see. And of course, when I had one, it pretty much meant I was ‘off limits’ for anything too exciting. Cockblocked by my own kisser – what a life.

One day, as my new cold sore throbbed, Mark texted asking me to go round to his. This was new; I hadn’t been to his house before, but soon I was weaving around the streets glued to Google Maps until I finally arrived at his front door.

Mark opened the door in a dressing gown and, as far as I could see, nothing underneath. He beckoned me in and asked if I’d like some wine. His voice sounded deeper, seductive. Or at least I assumed that’s what he was going for.

Instead of taking me through to the kitchen, he whisked me straight up the stairs, shoving me into his room – tidy, fairly sparse, very brown – and gestured for me to sit on the bed, handing me a glass. So far we had only ever rolled innocently around my sheets in our underwear; it became quickly clear Mark was ready for phase two.

I perched on the edge of the bed and looked meekly around the room at familiar movie posters, boring knick-knacks and family snapshots while Mark reclined. When I eventually let my gaze fall upon him, I saw Mark had arranged his gown to be as alluring as possible: a nipple there, an exposed thigh there, plus, although he probably didn’t plan this as it wasn’t particularly sexy, one of his testicles in full view.

Mark looked me up and down. “You look nice today,” he said.
I searched for a return compliment. A long pause. Until finally: “One of your knackers is hanging out.”

Mark looked down at his crotch and rearranged himself quickly, laughing.

“Obviously I’m too excited.”

Then, before I knew what was happening, he lunged at me, his hand in my lap, sending my glass of wine flying.

“I’ve dropped my wine,” I said awkwardly, like someone might say “My tea is a bit cold” during an earthquake.

“Fuck the wine,” he breathed in my ear, finally turning his face to mine, his lips poised.

“Oh, errr, you’d better not,” I squeaked.


I explained. He sprang back, panting, before leaning forward to peer at my mouth.

“What is it?” he asked, eyes wide. “How do you get them? Are they contagious?”

“We won’t be able to kiss until it’s gone.”

“And how long will that take?”

“Erm,” I sigh. “Maybe a week.” A lie. It’s almost always two.

“Can you get rid of it?”


“Well what are we supposed to do?” he groaned.

“We just wait.”

“But I, but I…” he started, gesturing to his dressing gown, before opening it to reveal we were not alone.
I did as much as I could with what was available to me, before claiming I had to get up early in the morning and needed to go.

“I’d ask you to stay,” he said as his breathing began to return to normal, “but y’know… that.” He pointed at the cold sore.
I left.

Mark texted often over the next few days, mainly to ask how my cold sore was getting on. Still there. I put him off saying I had work commitments until I could fib no more.

On Saturday, we met for dinner at a local Italian, usually a prelude to coming back to mine. Mark’s face fell as soon as he saw the cold sore patches on my stricken mouth. Yes, I had more. He ate his pizza in near silence while I gently forked pasta into my mouth, every bite total agony.

“I’ve been Googling cold sores,” he said, suddenly. “They are herpes. You have herpes. ”

I rolled my eyes. I’d heard all this before. “Yes, I know, but…”

“So does that mean you got it from shagging someone with herpes?”

My head felt very heavy. “No, Mark. They are related, but you don’t really get cold sores that way.”

“But, I’d get herpes if you…” he faked a cough, hopefully choking with embarrassment at what he was saying.

“If I sucked your pecker?” I said brightly, pushing my plate away. “It’s a risk.”

“So…?” he waved his hands around, willing me to finish his sentence.

“So, I won’t be doing it until the cold sore is gone,” I said, thinking “if ever”.

Mark did come back to mine but didn’t lunge at me again. He finally went home at midnight, grinding against me like a go-go boy as I said goodbye at the door, his eyes flicking sadly to my very own flaming lips.

He texted on the way home: “Can’t wait for your mouth to be back in action!”

I considered sending him details of where he could buy a fleshlight or a sex doll, but thought better of it, glad to be sleeping alone.

He got in touch again later in the week checking on my mouth’s progress once more, and, upon my reply of “Still a thing!!”, only silence. Finally, a few days later, the text I knew was coming finally arrived.

There were the usual clichés like “momentum” and “compatible” and “not ready for anything serious” but we both knew why it was all over.

As I read it, I licked my now cold sore-free lip and – for the first and last time – thanked the patron saint of herpes simplex for helping me dodge a Mark-shaped bullet.

Image: Josh Janssen on Flickr

The bitter end: Todd and his toothbrush

With Todd, the signs were always there, I guess – on our first date he spent rather too much time ogling a famous popstar across the bar. On leaving the place, I took him back to mine to teach him a lesson he’d never forget and, perhaps to both our surprise, it turned into something.

Little things would crop up every now and again to make me wonder. Todd’s insistence that he sit facing a window when we went out to eat, or going to a barbecue and eating only what he had cooked himself – a trial because he incinerated absolutely everything – or his annoying habit of refusing to accept I didn’t like red wine that much.

“White wine is for beginners,” he would say, impatiently, as I slipped a bottle of prosecco in the shopping basket. “And prosecco is for girls.”

“If prosecco is for beginners then I don’t ever want to be intermediate,” I’d reply trying not to roll my eyes. “And I’ll happily wear a dress if it means I get to drink cheap fizz.”

“White wine is for beginners,” he’d say, impatiently. “And prosecco is for girls.”

His main shtick – and the loudest of all the alarm bells – was trying to make me feel uncultured and shallow. He would get on to politics far earlier in the day than was acceptable, and call me out on “wishy-washy Guardianista received opinion” then bore me to death with his musings on the economy which I suppose I could’ve read myself had I not been laughing too long at a deliciously bitchy Marina Hyde column.

And yet, incredibly, he fancied me rotten. He would tell me so, very often. Over lunch, on the train, in the supermarket – usually mere moments after skewering me over my choice of wine. Looking back now, I suppose he thought he could get away with acting permanently exasperated at my faults if he told me I was pretty, like an old lady cooing at her budgerigar or a stable hand patting his thoroughbred’s thigh. Being single can be quite a fragile state at times, and I suppose being told I was hot by someone was a rare pleasure, it made me feel nice, albeit briefly, and it can be quite the aphrodisiac.

The final straw, however, was the most ridiculous of all. I had endured six weeks or so of this odd mix of him telling me I was irritating then being unable to keep his hands out of my shorts, but what finally did it for me was a toothbrush. Yes, a toothbrush.

I stayed over at his flat for the first – and, as it turned out, final – time. I woke first and ran my tongue over my teeth.

To placate him the night before, I had gamely joined him for a few glasses of red wine. My breath was pure vinegar and my teeth felt like tombstones.

I padded through to the bathroom, praying I wouldn’t bump into any of his housemates. He lived with two girls, but I never saw them, only their miserable bootcut jeans hanging to dry on a clothes-airer in his conservatory.

In the bathroom mirror, I surveyed the damage. Purple-stained lips? Check. Grey, wine-ravaged teeth? Check. General feeling of gut rot, extreme nausea and cottonmouth? Check in triplicate.

I glanced around, looking for something to fix my malodorous mouth. No Listerine in sight. I sighed heavily. No floss, either. I tried to remember what Todd’s teeth were like, realised I couldn’t, and thought that in itself was a pretty bad sign.

In a beaker by the sink stood four toothbrushes. One was red. One was pink. One was purple. And one was green. I considered them all. Three people lived in the house. Sticking to gender stereotypes, I reasoned the pink one would belong to one of the girls. I couldn’t see Todd going for a red toothbrush, and it looked quite grotty, so I assumed they used that one to clean the grouting. Purple or green would be Todd’s then. I thought of maybe just leaving it, but… oh my mouth. It felt awful, like it was screaming at me “Who did you let in here last night?!” I had to get rid of this feeling.

I grabbed the green toothbrush, smeared some Colgate on it, winced, and started to lightly brush my teeth, the bristles barely touching enamel.

“Why would you do that without asking?” he railed. “That’s my PERSONAL toothbrush!”

At that precise moment, of course, Todd walked in, scratching his arse through his boxer shorts. He stopped dead when he caught sight of me, his eyes darting from the beaker to my mouth, then back to the beaker, before resting on my mouth and widening in horror.

“Heeeeey,” I garbled through a mouthful of fluoride and foam.

“What are you doing?” he asked, his eyes like saucers and his lip trembling in a way I had seen once before but for a very different reason.

“I’m guzzhing my keergh,” I mumbled, before giving in and spitting out any toothpaste that had managed to stay in my gob.

“Where did you get that toothbrush?” His voice was almost a whisper, but with a hardness that I assumed was dissatisfaction. My lord and master wasn’t happy.

I gestured toward the beaker. “Right there.”

He pointed now to the brush still in my hand. “That’s mine.”

I made a face a bit like a pug trying to get chewing gum out of its back teeth. “Yes. Well, I don’t have one here. I thought I might as well.”

He started to go red. At first, I thought he was embarrassed at making such a fuss, but it soon became clear he was angry. Furious, even.

“Why would you do that without asking?” he railed. “That’s my PERSONAL toothbrush” – I can only imagine what his business toothbrush was like – “and I don’t like you just coming in here using it.”

I carefully placed the sainted toothbrush back in the beaker. “I wasn’t keen either,” I admitted. “But… I don’t really understand why this is a big deal.”

He snorted. “Come ON. It’s gross. It’s not hygienic.” He scrunched his face up in disgust.

“Are you for real?” I spat. “Your tongue’s been on just about every tooth of mine it can reach, and you had my… my pecker in your mouth a few short hours ago.” I cringed at the memory. “But dragging your toothbrush around my gob is a hanging offence?”

He looked puzzled and ran his fingers over his own teeth. “I don’t know where you’ve…” he stopped himself. “Um, you might have gum disease.”

I rubbed my eyes. Suddenly I was very tired and very hungover and very much hoping for teleportation to be invented within the next 15 seconds.

“I’m just a bit funny about what I put in my mouth.”

I slid past him and went back into the bedroom and started to get dressed. He followed, but the sun was in my eyes so I couldn’t see his expression. When he finally spoke, he sounded sheepish.

“I’m just a bit funny about what I put in my mouth.”

I pulled on my trainers in excessively energetic frustration. So many one-liners swirled around my head; a hundred possible put-downs and sparkling double-entendres willed me to pick them.

Instead, as I slipped on my jacket, I settled for “Fuck off, Todd” and left the room, his flat, his street and jumped on a bus to start my favourite journey of that year so far – the one that took me away from Todd for ever.

Image:  pcapemax2007 on Flickr

The Hold-Out

A restaurant. I hate going for food on a first date, but my date suggested it and so here I am.

Leo is a student and 22 – that enchanted age where anything seems possible, but you’re still not old enough to realise none of it will ever happen.

His pictures were, to put it bluntly, deceiving and he is not very good-looking at all, but I’m here now and we can at least have a nice dinner. I can tell he’s not a serial dater, as he’s picked Chinese – nobody wants to spend two hours watching a stranger grapple with chopsticks.

He has been flirting with me outrageously since I got here – he’s all coquettish leans to one side, wry smiles and fluttery eyelashes. I am as responsive as a fridge in a scrapyard.

Halfway through a bowl of noodles that I can’t wait for him and his mouth to finish, he licks his lips and puts down his chopsticks and I know I am in trouble.

“I just want you to know – I never sleep with someone on the first date.”

Here we go. I am nothing if not a sadist, so I ask simply: “Why?”

He goes into a long diatribe about how  relationships can only be brief and meaningless when founded on sex and that he prefers to get to know someone “spiritually rather than carnally”. I wonder which rock of self-help this bizarre statement crawled out from under.

“So how long do you wait?” I ask. “What’s the magic number of dates before you do the deed?”

“About four?”

“Four,” I repeat. “And then what?”

“Whaddya mean?”

“After date five, what happens next?”

There is no response. Just a deep breath. I plough on.

“Well, here you are.” I gesture around the room. “Sitting with me, on date number one. It rather suggests that as magic formulas go, your one for having a long-lasting relationship doesn’t seem to be much good.”

He scratches his head. “Eh?”

I should stop, but I can taste blood and, reader, I like it. “Four dates. Risky strategy.”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, you’re giving people an awful lot of opportunities to fall out of love with you.”

He scrunches up his face, puzzled. “What’s wrong with my four-date rule?”

I rest my chin on my hands. “If your formula for starting out on a long relationship is not to have sex with someone until the fourth date, why are you single? Where’s your relationship? Why are you here, now, with me, on a first date, imparting your ‘wisdom’, when in fact it is a load of old pony?”

He laughs nervously. “I don’t know.”

“Well, no. Holding out on sex on a first date is your choice, and totally up to you, but don’t think it makes you any deeper or less superficial to keep your Aussiebums on. It just means you are missing out on a shag. If you’re happy with it, that’s great.”

He puts his hand on my arm and smiles at me in a way I imagine someone once told him was sexy. There is a bit of chive in his teeth. He looks very pleased with himself – like a bank manager cancelling an overdraft. “Are you asking me to make an exception just this once?” he says.

My gaze slides glacially to his hand.

“I do sleep with people on the first date,” I smile. “If I fancy them.” Cue dramatic pause. “You’re safe tonight, Leo.”

He moves his hand back. We spend the rest of the date talking about the weather and ask for the bill as quickly as politeness will allow.

Stats: 22, 5’7″, mousey/blue, Norfolk
Where: London E1
Pre-date rating: 8/10
Post-date rating: 3/10
Date in one sentence: Bait is not taken.

Image: Zebble on Flickr 

The Reluctant Mean Girl

Midweek. Another bar. Another pint with a stranger. I sit and wonder where I’ll be in five hours. Will I be back in my flat ignoring the ironing or will I be tangled in Egyptian cotton and kisses with tonight’s contestant?  You just never know.

“And you wore pink!”
I nod at his polo shirt, knowingly. “Perfect shirt for tonight!”

My date tonight bristles with efficiency. He was on time, buying drinks and sitting opposite me with a rictus grin on his face, in his pristine baby pink polo, before I knew what was happening.

“It seems weird going on a date on a Wednesday, no?” he says.

“Wednesdays are perfect, I think,” I reply. “And you wore pink!” I nod at his polo shirt, knowingly. “Perfect shirt for tonight!”

He narrows his eyes. “I don’t follow.”

“Oh, errr,” I stumble awkwardly. “It’s from Mean Girls. They say ‘On Wednesdays we wear pink’. Yes?”

His face is blanker than a blank thing on a blank day in a town called Blankton.

I probe further: “Do you know Mean Girls?”

He leans back in his chair and his face changes to a look of bemusement tinged with disgust and a dash of weariness.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he sighs.

“I mean…” he shakes his head dismissively. “I just wouldn’t even want to watch Mean Girls. I’m not into trashy movies.”

I gulp, feeling dumb and shallow.

“It’s a film. Written by Tina Fey. Lindsay Lohan was in it? It’s quite old.”

“Yeah, I’ve heard of it. I mean…” he shakes his head dismissively. “I just wouldn’t even want to watch it. I’m not into trashy movies.”

I shrug. “It’s not trashy, really. It’s quite a clever, knowing kind of comedy. Not as good as Heathers, but in the same ballpark.”

“I don’t really like the kind of films that gay men usually like,” he replies.

Oh, I see! BINGO! We have the new gay stereotype – the gay man who refuses to conform to a stereotype! How lucky for me to have snared this rarest of beasts. And barely halfway through our first drink.

I could just let this go, or I could take a tin-opener to that can of worms he’s waving in front of me.

I have two options. I could just let this go, or I could take a tin-opener to that can of worms he’s waving in front of me. Egyptian cotton, or home alone? I imagine the pristine sheets. Lovely. Then I think of him in them, beckoning me to a world where sex means never watching a popular movie again. Decision made.

“I don’t like it because I’m gay, you total snob. I like it because it’s funny.”

“Yeah, right,” he replies, folding his arms. A drawbridge goes up with great speed. “But you think it’s a  funny film because of the bitchy dialogue and the pretty, evil girls being all ‘fabulous’, right? It’s just a bit… obvious.” He unfolds his arms for a brief second and waves them dramatically in the air.

“So you have seen it, then?” I smirk.

“Uh.” A pause so long you could actually use it to nip off to watch Mean Girls. And then: “I might have done actually.”

I’m back in my own kitchen – alone – within the hour.

Stats: 5’10”, 31, mousy brown/brown, Devon
Pre-date rating: 7/10
Post-date rating: 3.5/10
Date in one sentence: Gay guy thinks pretending popular culture isn’t a thing makes him less gay.

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly dating column I used to do in Gay Times magazine. I now answer GT readers’ dilemmas and dole out relationship advice. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

The Attachment

I’ve been chatting online to Graham – a 35-year-old ‘scientist’ – for a day or two and still can’t quite work him out. And I’m not sure I want to. It’s like there is something he isn’t saying; the unwritten words hanging in the air like hours-old fag smoke.

He talks me through the minutiae of his day like he’s writing a report for his parole officer. There is no humour, no flirtation – just fact after fact after fact. Wikipedia has become sentient and decided to explore the niche of being a very boring man in his thirties. At first I try to reply more spiritedly in the hope it will inspire him to jazz things up a little.

I am a one-man crash team trying to revive a fillet steak. His replies come back, still monotonous, but now longer. More information. How has this happened?

Desperate for a diversion from all this typing he’s sending me, I look again at his photos. His hair, receding, is an uneventful brown. His eyes, a dull blue and too close together, seem troubled. In all his photos, he’s staring straight into the camera wearing all manner of polo shirts, each one buttoned right up to the very top. Fashion bloggers would call it an ‘air tie’. Graham doesn’t look like he’s ever read a fashion blog. His mouth is a dull pink smear across his face – he doesn’t smile, or frown.

I am a one-man crash team trying to revive a fillet steak.

I scroll through mugshot after mugshot. I don’t know where any of the pictures have been taken. Sometimes I get a tantalising sliver of brick wall at the corner of the pic or perhaps… is that…? Is it the sky? Or a blue curtain? No idea. Every picture is cropped into the face as much as possible. He’s certainly got plenty of spare pics should he lose his travelcard.

He badgers me about a date but I decide I’m not going to meet him. I’m not attracted to him, after all, and I don’t see any point in leading him on. I’ve had a busy week and am not that desperate for a night out. I don’t want to just stop replying – somehow my warped sense of propriety prevents me from telling him to bore off. I resolve to wind things down by making my gap between replies longer, and my emails shorter and impersonal. The ultimate diss – being phased out before you’ve even met.

Incredibly, Graham is undeterred. In fact, my lack of interest seems to excite him and enrage him in equal measure. Finally, the tone of his missives changes. It’s not an upgrade, however.

“Off out later, are you?” he says when I tell him I’m busy. “Meeting somebody off Grindr for a SHAG?”
I don’t know what to say, so I decide to say nothing

The next day: “I bet you chase after all the boys, don’t you? I know what guys like you get up to.”
I get the feeling that he’s typing one-handed, so decide now’s as good a time as any to go into silent mode.
He gives it one final go.
“I shaved today,” he says.

I see the email has an attachment: a photo, which I open. Yes, he’s shaved all right. Everywhere. Instead of a smooth chin or chest, I see gleaming genitalia – Spam-pink with sensitivity and not a hair to be seen.
I somehow manage to retain my lunch and delete the photo, closing the email and marking it as – what else? – spam, to match his angry little pecker.

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly dating column I used to do in Gay Times magazine. I now answer GT readers’ dilemmas and dole out relationship advice. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

Image: Flickr