Krissie has long dark hair and is wearing a dark green coat over a black dress. Luke is wearing a maroon jacket, black T
Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian/The Guyliner
Impeccable Table Manners

Krissie and Luke

Morning has broken, and so did at least one heart upon reading today’s Guardian Blind Date column, I reckon. This week we find ourselves staring into the barrel of the date between Luke, 28, who is a software engineer manager and Krissie, 31, who is a pension fund VP. Two jobs I have only heard of in passing, know nothing about and, I am happy to say, have almost no relevance to the date except the fact Krissie works in pensions has a certain irony about it when you read on. (Pedants desperate to tell me I have defined ‘irony’ incorrectly: we already have one Susie Dent; I don’t think there are any vacancies in Dictionary Corner just yet but do keep applying through

Here are our charges in top-to-toe form, complete with Girls Aloud-style hair toss from Krissie:

Krissie has long dark hair and is wearing a dark green coat over a black dress with chunky black boots. Luke is wearing a maroon jacket, black T, skinny jeans, and black shoes.
Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian

I’m sure the photographer was thrilled they both wore such dark clothes to a photoshoot. If their outfits were any more sombre, they’d be playing Plague Victims 1 and 2 in the Bubogeddon Live! interactive experience in the London Dungeon. Anyway, habit says I must first divert you to the – do return here once you’ve read that through your fingers so we can dissect this particular cadaver.

Luke on Krissie  | Krissie on Luke
What were you hoping for?
Someone who shares a passion for adventure. Failing that, someone who laughs at my awful jokes.

This is like on a soap opera when a character says ‘This is going to be the best Christmas ever!’ only for a car to plough into them as they’re placing the star on top of the tree.

What were you hoping for?
A good laugh and a story for my friends.

Zak from Saved by the Bell saying Bingo

First impressions?
Confident and easygoing, and she looked stunning.
Smartly dressed, big smile.

‘She looked stunning!’ is such a great thing to say that it makes everything that comes after seem like some kind of one-man Edinburgh Fringe show playing to an audience of three at the least salubrious venue in town. We are being lulled here.

What did you talk about?
Our shared love of travel. The best heavy metal bands. And our experience with dating apps and terrible dates (I won’t share those stories here).
Travelling. Christmas. Movies. Family.

Travel ✅ – Always a bad omen that someone’s about to bore you into the first stages of rigor mortis or, worse, that you’re going to leave your self-awareness somewhere by the roadside on the A65 and are about to spend far too long talking about the time you nearly did ayahuasca in the back room of a 7-Eleven during your gap year.

Terrible dates (I won’t share those stories here) – Too busy making new ones!

Any awkward moments?
It would take a lot for Krissie and me to get embarrassed! Though we were kicked out of the restaurant because we stayed past closing time.

This has very ‘it felt like we’d known each other for ever’ energy, which is always a nice feeling, but it is just that: a feeling, not a fact. There are some things you might *feel* you can say, in the spirit of this newfound camaraderie, but that you should most definitely not. You will understand what I’m getting at in approximately three seconds’ time when you read… this:

Any awkward moments?
When he looked me dead in the eye and said: “It’s OK, I only date older women,” and, “Don’t worry, you don’t look a day over 31.” Spoiler, I’m 31.
Marge Simpson angrily brandishing a broken bottle

I have some wonderful life advice for you. I’m no sage, but this wisdom is, honestly, the best gift I can pass onto you, because it will make people hate you less than they possibly already do. Are you ready?

Unless asked specifically for your opinion, don’t comment on anybody’s appearance in any way that isn’t hugely positive. It sounds like such an obvious thing to say, and I think I’ve even said it here before, but so many people blunder about the place causing untold destruction with throwaway comments that they forget instantly, but the recipient might think of for ever. It is a free country, and you are entitled to have any thoughts you desire. You can make these judgements about how someone looks if you like, but there is no need to vocalise them ever. Because, spoiler: most people are only too aware of what they look like, and have their own hangups or dislikes or just little… things they hope nobody will notice or say anything about. They know they are larger since the last time you saw them, or look a bit gaunt at the moment. They are aware that their hair is grey, or that they could do with buying a new jacket, or that they’re having a breakout, or that they have dark circles, or new wrinkles since you saw them. Mirrors are freely fucking available and believe me, they stare into them. It is very unlikely you can say something to someone that they haven’t already thought about themselves, but the real sting comes from someone confirming those thoughts, they make them real. Honestly, ‘you look great’ is the only thing you need to say unless you’re asked to give actual feedback.

If you’re asked to guess someone’s age, either go totally ridiculous – ‘I was going to say somewhere between school-leaver and Iris Apfel?’ – or fake a heart attack and make sure you look convincing. Flatline if you have to.

Now, I would quite like to know what led up to this statement because I must hope Luke wouldn’t just blurt this out like a toddler on a bus saying – at levels loud enough to drown out the pyramid stage at Glastonbury – ‘MUMMY WHIS DOES THAT MAN IN THE BLUE COAT HAVE NO HAIR AND JUST A SHINY HEAD LIKE AN EGG?’ Did he already know her age? Did Krissie say ‘Ooh you’re young?’ or something – we’ll never know and I would prefer not to start blaming her for it, but I’m guessing he didn’t mean this to sound as… well, like it sounds.

Krissie, for the record, one day, say in a decade or so, someone will say you look 31 and you will drop to the tarmac in gratitude like the Pope landing at Terminal 4. You don’t look 31, no, but I don’t know what a 31-year-old is supposed to look like. 31. Imagine.

Only the most beautiful words, and the very ugliest ones, can stay with someone for ever. Choose wisely.

(I don’t claim an unblemished record in this regard, by the way, but I’ve taught myself over the years wield my word power more carefully.)

Best thing about Krissie?
I suggested we order each other’s cocktails all night. She was all for it.
Absolutely Fabulous Edina looking in surprise

Like Big Brother producers hiding Nadia’s cigarettes on nominations day to create drama, I have moved this question higher than usual for a reason. Try to imagine this answer as… oh I don’t know, brake fluid trickling out from under an Austin Maestro that’s about to be driven down a really steep hill.

(If someone suggests you order cocktails for each other, I’d first ask why they want to do this, and then if satisfied with that answer – whatever a satisfactory answer could be, ‘it’ll be fun’ isn’t enough – you need a veto list so you don’t end up with negronis – railway bridge-filtered raindrops mixed with out-of-date Robitussin – or mojitos, the dull cocktail for people who think ordering sweet potato fries instead of regular chips makes them an edgelord. And then tell them what you actually want: a gin martini so strong it can activate an Alexa three streets away.)

Best thing about Luke?
His self-confidence.


Table manners! You ready?

Good table manners?
Absolutely – eating Japanese food can be a logistical nightmare and she was a seasoned veteran.
10/10 for eating ramen and edamame with chopsticks. But he suggested we choose each other’s drinks (I’d have preferred to pick my own) and kept forgetting what he’d ordered for me.

In my view, they didn’t know each other well enough to be eating edamame with chopsticks in front of one another, but well done on that.

That ‘I’d have preferred to pick my own’, though – says it all, really. Ordering for each other is maybe something you could do when you’ve a few dates under your slingbacks, not on first meeting. Not only is it quite… well, sad really that Krissie was denied cocktail-based agency, but someone’s cocktail choice can be quite revealing. I have been over to the restaurant’s website to check out the cocktail menu and it is really great, so maybe it wasn’t a total disaster, but there’s also a classic cocktail menu for the kind of people who, I imagine, complain about the quality of the baked beans in seaside B&Bs, so imagine if you had all these exciting concoctions laid out before you but your date looked at you and thought, ‘Nah, this looks like a Blue Hawaii face to me’. I’d emigrate. I’d rather someone said I looked old.

Would you introduce her to your friends?
For sure, I think they would get on quite well.
Sure, but I’d remind them all to use a good night cream the day before.

Can I just say that even though quite a few corners of the internet were horrified by this date today, Krissie does seem to be taking it all very well and I don’t for a second think Luke meant to drop so many clangers and he’s probably having a BIT of a morning of it, so I won’t be skewering anyone here today. Maybe.

Describe Krissie in three words?
Adventurous, unafraid, chatty.

Adventurous, like someone who sticks their head in a lion’s mouth and tells them they look 42.
Unafraid, like a man who orders a margarita for you and says, ‘Now, this is a little gem I first tried on my trip to Mexico’ and expects you to be still awake by pudding.
Chatty, like the people on the bus three seats behind you who saw you in the Guardian Blind Date column and want to ask you what cocktails you ordered.

Describe Luke in three words?
Friendly, warm, forgetful.

Friendly, like the barman serving you cocktails pretends to be when you order one that takes seven solid minutes of vigorous shaking, the like of which he hasn’t known since Chariots on Lower Marsh shut down.
Warm, like your negroni, as it sits untouched, somehow managing to glare at you like sentient synovial fluid .
Forgetful, like oh I don’t know this one is nice isn’t it, try some, no I can’t remember what it’s called, it’s a bit exotic for me, it’s a bit minty, know what I mean, I think I might just get a pint next time, have you got any Fosters, oh right okay then never mind.

Did you go on somewhere?
We tried to go to a bar but had left it much too late to get in anywhere.
We attempted to go to a bar, but I feel we were both relieved it was closed.
Countdown board spelling out SCREAMING
And.. did you kiss?
Not this time.
No, there was a polite wave goodbye.

Has there been a hilarious mix-up at the printers and they’ve published the answers to two different dates? Am I in an Inception-style alternative universe (check out my very modern references there)? Not this time? Is there an expectation of trajectory yet to climb?

Marks out of 10?
illustration of character kicking sand in another's face from Spongebob

This is like watching someone clamp defibrillator pads to a coffin.

Look, I am going to be generous. It has been a tough couple of years, and many of us have watched or social and perception skills haemorrhage away. Jokes don’t land like they used to. We might act a bit louder and more theatrical than we would’ve two years ago. In an era where it’s been very easy to forget who we used to be, and what it means for who we are now, I am willing to give Luke the benefit of the doubt and also acknowledge how disappointing this experience must’ve been for Krissie. You wait months and months for a date and meet the guy who says ‘You’re old lol!’ I hope he at least told her she was stunning, rather than saving it for the column, when it was too late. But at least Luke had a lovely time.

And isn’t it GREAT to be back out there, just having vaguely SHIT evenings again, making mortal mistakes, and experiencing things you never want to experience again, bad cocktails, magnolia conversations, just because you can, and for as long as this gangrenous, unforgiving Earth decides we get to stay on it?

Would you meet again?
We have exchanged numbers, so maybe. It will all depend on her Blind Date responses.

Lord, stop, HE’S ALREADY DEAD.

Would you meet again?
For a friendly gossip? Sure. Or when I’m next in need of a good ego-check.

Ben Whishaw draws curtain across sceeen in Adam Kay's This is Going to Hurt on BBC

If you would like to support my work, preorder my new novel, The Fake-Up, which is out 7 April. Preorders make a huge difference to a book’s campaign and they also make you more fanciable. I don’t make the rules. The book is very funny and there is a sex scene in a toilet.


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And if you can’t do either of those things, don’t worry! I am grateful for your continued readership, thank you so much.

About the review and the daters: The comments I make are based on answers given by participants. The Guardian chooses what to publish and usually edits answers to make the column work better on the page. Most things I say are riffing on the answers given and not judgements about the daters themselves, they seem very nice, so please be kind to them in comments, replies, and generally on social media. There has been an increase in readers being quite horrible about the daters – this isn’t what we should be about. I will not approve nasty below-the-line comments and will report any abusive tweets. If you reply to my tweets about the date, please don’t embarrass yourself or assume I agree with you. Daters are under no obligation to get along for our benefit, or explain why they do, or don’t, want to see each other again, so please try not to speculate or fill our feeds with hate. If you’re one of the daters, get in touch if you want to give me your side of the story. I need to know… well, everything tbh.

Luke and Krissie ate at Nanban, London SW9. Fancy a blind date? Email

Going away for a bit now. Please be nice to the daters in my absence.


  1. Was Luke’s behaviour so bad? They’re only three years apart in age and it’s not like they’re this and that side of the age of 20 when those three years make more of a difference. My take after reading the original article earlier was that Krissie was being overly sensitive but perhaps it was his delivery. Two final points: Krissie looked amazing and has beautiful hair (Luke was quite pretty too to be fair); totally agree about the cocktails, one should have total agency over your own choices especially on a first/blind date. I might let my partner order for me now but we’ve been together a couple of decades.

    1. Agree. I don’t think he was terrible, but they clearly were on different planes. This represents my social nightmare — some occasion where I have a completely different experience from the person I’m with and find out later they secretly hated the things I thought we were having fun at. I’m hiding my head under my covers at this.

      1. As a woman who has been told by a man who is two years older than me that I am too old for him: yes, his behaviour was that bad. Women are allowed to do many things today – just not age. (And BTW: she looks younger than her age to me.)

        1. Having read all the comments that have come in since my original one I am now inclined to believe that negging (a new term to me) is a possible explanation for what happened on this date. If that is what has happened here, that is deplorable. If that was the reason for the guy you were out to say what he said (to do you down so as to manipulate you), then that too is unconscionable. However, with regards to this particular Blind Date and without any further input from the Daters, it is just a possible explanation. Also, without wishing to err into whataboutery, don’t all people discriminate according to their own preferences and tastes? Some men only go for blondes, some women won’t give a man a second look if he’s below a certain height etc. etc. Not dating someone two years older than themselves solely on the grounds of age would be very odd though as you’re more or less the same age.

          1. No, it wouldn’t be very odd – in fact, it is the statistical norm for men, both in terms of heterosexual marriage and in terms of settings men use in online dating, which deliberately exclude being shown profiles of women who are not least 5 or more years younger. Heterosexual men’s favourite age in online dating is 18. Again: heterosexual women are allowed to do many things in our society, but definitely not age. I recommend the book by the founder of OK Cupid on this – he has a chapter on this. As for your argument that “all people discriminate according to their tastes” – tastes are not innate and they certainly as I just said regarding age are not in any way individual, but societal. When (as per both OK Cupid and tinder data) White men as well as Black men both contact Asian women more often as societal narratives enhance racist narratives of them as more docile and both White men and Black men contact Black women less because of racist narratives of Black women as “too dominant”, then that is a problem and not “neutral”. You could start similar arguments about the “masc only” preferences etc on grindr. None of this happens in a societal vaccuum. The question is also what about disabled people, older straight women etc. If most or all reject them, then we are essentially arguing that their loneliness and unhappiness is something that we are willing to accept.

  2. Hahaha, I was so looking forward to seeing your write up after reading the date in the Guardian, it’s not quite as cringe as Allegra and Charlie but it’s close…

    1. God, I’d forgotten about that date – awful! I just re-read it, there was also a link to the date between Ashleigh and Mike. Even more cringeworthy!!

    1. He didn’t get her age correct. When you tell someone they don’t look a day over [x], you’re saying that you know they are older than that.

  3. I think there was some major miscommunication here, which is sad. He thought she LIKED the idea of ordering cocktails for each other, she was secretly UPSET about it. I know it can be hard to say something (but hey, if you’re going to writing about it in an international newspaper -hello from Australia! Yes, it’s almost midnight here!) but if it was bothering her THAT much, why couldn’t she say no, or say after the first one, “That was interesting, but I would prefer to choose my own drinks.” They can still have a fun chat about the different combinations. A bit sad this date went off the rails, because she’s gorgeous and I wish I was 31 again, and they might have had a fun night except for a few miscommunications. Anyway, best wishes for all involved! My wrinkles are too deep for night cream to make a difference!

    1. Totally agree about the miscommunication. It occurred to me that perhaps she did say something but he wasn’t attentive enough to hear her. It might also account for the (slight) insensitivity/oversensitivity around the age issue. It is a shame as it comes across that he liked her and she is gorgeous as you say. Maybe she just wasn’t into him.

      1. Yes, she could have said something and he didn’t listen to pick up on it! Good point! Best wishes to them both for the future! Oh, and thank you Justin for your amazing (as always!) writing! I don’t always comment (slow going typing on my phone), but I appreciate your work. Am looking forward to reading your third book! It sounds great!

    2. I thought the bit around the cocktails was that he ordered for her, but then immediately vforgot what he ordered.

      Not so bad with other drinks, maybe as you’d be able to anticipate what you’d expect them to taste like. But not knowing if your cocktail is going to have flavours of coffee, peach, lemon, ginger (or even mint) would be a bit offputting.

      Reading between the lines, (and I appreciate this is my personal take), if someone suggests choosing what I’ll have to drink for me and then, minutes later, can’t remember what they chose, it demonstrates that they’re not bothered and no thought went into that process. They may as well have closed their eyes and pointed to anything on the page.

  4. It reminded me of “negging” – where a guy light-heartedly puts a gorgeous woman down, in a jokey way but where the insult is just plausible enough to put her in her place and lower her standards. It’s a “pick-up artist” dating tactic that I thought had gone out of fashion. Who knew this genius tactic doesn’t actually get people to like you more!

  5. It was so tragic — and I agree with Justin’s kind analysis above, we’re all a little more theatrical in our interactions after two years of zoom meetings, and shifting to a lower gear will take a while. Poor guy.

  6. Hello from Canada! Do you think that this might not be the end? That this blundered first date in front of everyone, with the attention it receives, will give both of them a new perspective? This new perspective might lead to some humorous compassion? He calls her to apologize for being so tone deaf, blaming nerves and being so “stunned” by her beauty, that he unwittingly offended her. That he asks her for another opportunity to see her, both of them ordering their own drinks? This might be the start of an above average romantic comedy? I sense that she is a true romantic that was deeply disappointed when her thrillingly high expectations (imagine the anticipation with the presence of the Guardian and background of Covid isolation, being so young and vibrant thrown into the mix)? Maybe they’ll patch it up and discover a true warmth for each other? Aside: 31 seems so young now. I encourage the young lady to be confident that she is beautiful and realize the lad was just bumbling and might require some patience? I sense his heart is in the right place.

    1. Honestly I’m not sure about this fanfic you’ve written – are you sure you’re not Luke?! Without wishing to lump you in with a whole range of dodgy internet folk, there is a bit of a tendency for people to suggest that women should forgive men for being patronising, rude or difficult on a date, essentially asking women to lower their standards. Unfortunately I think your comment falls into that trap too – it doesn’t really matter if his heart is in the right place IMO, what matters is his behaviour on the FIRST date. He didn’t live up to her standards of not accidentally I nsulting your date – I don’t see why it would be cute or sweet to have them reunite in a fantasy rom com.

  7. I read the guardian write-up first and thus Krissie’s commentary in its entirety before Luke’s. Thus from Krissie’s point of view Luke’s comments really did come across as negging. Right up until I read Luke’s comments, at which I realised he actually really likes her. I think he was just trying too hard to be coming across as less than coming across totally bowled over but missed the mark and went too far. Like other commenters here I hope they both read this and at least learn from it and at best try a second date.

    1. You misunderstood what negging is supposed to do: it is only supposed to be used with women that the man is really attracted to and that he deems out of his league. So saying “but he really liked her, so it can’t have been negging” makes little sense.

      1. Fair enough. I meant “really liked her” in the genuine person sense, and I thought that rather than negging, as in deliberately trying to undermine her, it was more like the childish playground pulling pigtails type behaviour with the purpose of protecting oneself from revealing how much you like someone out of embarrassment or self protection. Regardless of his motives though I now find myself agreeing with the commenters that are saying that he was rude to her so she lost interest and it serves him right. Or words to that effect.

  8. Glad to see you covered this date before taking an absence. Reading the column was the biggest ride I’d been on all year, and made me super-excited to see what your take would be; you haven’t disappointed.

    Luke may well be a lovely person in real life, but I’m afraid his photo gave off strong “Poster boy for alt-right edgelords” vibes, and some of his answers rather doubled-down on this.

    Which made it all the more surprising when it seemed like he genuinely liked Krissie! And yet, it would appear that every time he was given the opportunity to say and do the wrong thing, he grasped it with both hands.

    I hope the negging wasn’t intentional, and he cuts it out next time he has a date. And that he finds a more flattering hairstyle. Because the other way of looking at it is that he was super nervous and was trying to be funny but said all the wrong things by mistake and dear god, haven’t we all been there?

    I hope Krissie got the great story she wanted and wasn’t too disheartened by the date, she seems like a great person with her head screwed on, and does indeed look stunning. I’d like to think Luke actually said that on the night, but then I read the answer about the night cream and felt so sad for her. It’s times like these you sometimes wish the Guardian would have do-overs where they’d send a wronged party out for a better date instead (or is that just me?)

    1. Your comment also made me laugh out loud. In a good way. 🙂 Agree re edgelord hair. And yes, sometimes I wish for do-over dates too.

      1. Oh boy, this takes me back to some awkward dates from my past. I related some of these awkward date stories to a co-worker at the time, and she responded that I was a very sensitive person and she would have dished it right back to the guy. She enjoyed that kind of edgy banter. Fast forward 5 years and I am happily married to a lovely gentleman who doesn’t do edgy banter. Long story short, Luke and Krissie are a mismatch, but there are many fish in the sea for both.

    2. The “Childish pulling pigtails in the playground” is where girls get conditioned to accept that boys are useless at expressing emotions and hurting you is fine if they really like you.

      Krissie sounds excellent. I suspect she and her friends will get a lot of laughs out of this one.

  9. Thank you for being back! I was looking forward to your column as I was mortified bu this date and didn’t have anyone to turn to!

  10. Omg I literally read the Blind Date very early Saturday and COULD NOT WAIT to read your take on it. And then loved discussing both the blind date and your column with my besties over brunch.

    We couldn’t work out what prompted Luke to comment on her age? Presumably he wasn’t asked to guess… I had a housemate who asked everyone she met to guess her age, and of course you knock 5-10 years off when someone who is clearly about 40 asks you. She was exhausting.

    So he must have proffered it spontaneously. I wonder if it was the first thing he said to her.

    Whatever was behind it he clearly just happily blundered on through the date, ordering cocktails for her with so little thought even he couldn’t even remember what they were supposed to be, thinking things were going well.

    Meanwhile any spark of attraction Krissie may have felt was instantly quashed.

    She will remember that moment, how he looked when he said it, the feeling of her heart falling through her stomach and hitting the floor, for the rest of her life.

    In 25 years she’ll still be bringing it up with friends and laughing (hopefully).

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