Location location location: How to pick a place for the perfect first date

Where you meet on a date can be quite a tricky decision. You don’t know this person very well — you may not even have spoken on the phone — so you won’t be quite sure of their taste. There’s no duller a question than ‘where do you like to go out?’ on email or on the actual date, but sometimes it’s good to get an idea of where these people socialise, as you can usually get a pretty good handle on what kind of person they are. Unless they’re a stupid show-off who relies on dreadful style magazines to choose their outlets of entertainment.

Inner turmoil comes in an instant when the choice of first date venue is left to me. It’s so easy to get wrong. What if it’s too busy? What if the weather turns bad? Perhaps they’re a former alcoholic so suggesting meeting where there’s a 2-4-1 on Absinthe may turn out to be quite a different evening from your expectations. So where should you go? What should you do? Continue reading Location location location: How to pick a place for the perfect first date

Dating 101: Introductory offer

One of the most harrowing parts of having an online dating profile seems to be the necessity to write about yourself. Countless singletons struggle with this, and, boy, does it show!

There’s only one simple rule to remember when writing the introductory paragraph of your profile: try not to sound like a dickhead. Judging by some of the woeful intros I’ve read over the last few months, it’s much more difficult than it sounds. Here’s a handy top 5 for ultimate ‘God this guy/ girl sounds like a bellend’ aversion: Continue reading Dating 101: Introductory offer

The Drunk Mexican

Stats: 5’10″, 32, black/brown, Mexico
When: Saturday 31 July, 1pm and 10.30pm
Where: South-east London
Pre-date rating: 7/10

The dates are becoming more and more disillusioning as time goes on, to be honest. This one is a little different from the others, though. I meet him on a different site, one where you know less information about your potential date, but you talk through instant messenger, rather than emails. (Edit: Grindr – why am I so afraid to say Grindr?!) We seem to get on well, at first missing each other and not being online at the same time, but showing mutual appreciation. When we finally do talk ‘live’, he’s away on business in Germany. We arrange to meet in a pub, round the corner from my house, as he also lives locally, the following Saturday at 1pm. He says he likes an afternoon pint. Nice.

I walk into the pub precisely three minutes late and there is no sign. I order a pint — even though the last thing I want to do is drink — and sit outside in the sun. From where I’m sitting, I have all entrances to the pub covered. I half look out for him and half mess about with my phone. It gets to 1.10pm, and alarm bells are ringing. I realise I don’t have his mobile number. How stupid of me. I message him via the website and say I’m here. Time ticks on. No response. I sit and finish my pint, reading in the sun and wondering what on Earth is going on. By now, it’s 1.45pm and he’s clearly not coming. Furious but not wanting to show my anger, I send him a message telling him that I’m leaving now and that it was a shame that he couldn’t make it. Continue reading The Drunk Mexican

The Show-off

Stats: 37, 6′, brown/blue, Wales
When: Tuesday 20 July 2010
Where: Shoreditch, E1
Pre-date rating: 9/10

I’m mixing things up a bit and logging the dates out of date order. This is because I might skip the boring ones and also, I wanted the horror of this one to be fresh in my mind.

On paper, This Guy sounds great. He works in the City, so while he may not have the most interesting job in the world, at least he’ll be solvent. Money’s not important, but it’s good to have some, right? He is new to the dating site and has just two photos. But they are good photos. He is very handsome and looks exceptionally well-preserved for a 37-year-old. Despite his job, he says he has a big interest in all things cultural.

He emails me on Sunday and I respond. He then responds with his phone number. I never make the initial call — just yet another of those stupid rules I set myself — but I dutifully return the email with my number. About ten minutes later, he calls. Keen, then. Continue reading The Show-off

The Newbie

Stats: 31, 6’1″, brown/blue, Durham
When: June 2010
Where: South bank, London
Pre-date rating: 6/10

Another day, another date. Being single is hard work. I’m drinking a ridiculous amount of alcohol on these dates, plus expending a great deal of energy exchanging emails in order to make myself seem attractive and ‘dateable’.

It’s somewhat disheartening that I have made it to five dates without meeting my Prince Charming. Save for a few passionate yet confusing weeks with G2, the others have been dead-ends. I am at the cul de sac of love, with no sat nav.

So it is with low expectations that I arrive at our designated meeting point. This Guy has so far been something of a mystery. His emails have been short and to the point and he doesn’t have any publicly available photographs: I have to ask to see them. One of my policies is not to talk to people who don’t have images on their profile. There are many reasons, but the main ones are that no photo usually means that the potential datee looks like Ann Widdecombe or is married. Neither of which are very attractive prospects.

Continue reading The Newbie

How to be picture perfect

Pictures are quite important when it comes to online dating. Sure, your blurb helps get your personality across, but in the real world, what you look like is likely to make more of an instant impact.  So it’s crucial that your photos make you look as all-out hot as possible. And if you can’t rely on God-given beauty, your photos can at least present to your ‘audience’ what kind of person you are.

Profile pictures can either be the catalyst for much excitement when you realise that somebody smoking hot is interested in you, or the portent of doom when you’re pursued by a person whose face wouldn’t look out of place painted on the side of a ghost train.

Selecting your photos should not be done alone. Get a second or third opinion before uploading any. What you might think are fantastic photos of your lovely self, others might find the prospect of kissing a corpse more inviting than dating someone who looks like you do in your pics.

And before you publish a whole load of carefully posed mirror shots, stop and think. Don’t post too many that you’ve taken yourself: potential dates will just think you’re a posing tit with narcissistic tendencies. By the same token, avoid too many pictures of you having ‘crazy’ nights out, especially if you have ugly friends. As Granny used to say: “Expect to be judged by the company you keep”. So if you’re hanging out with mingers, expect some of that  ming to rub off on you. Equally, don’t post pictures of yourself with hot mates, or potential dates might meet you just to get to the hot stuff you hang around with.

Pictures taken in natural situations are best; nobody really wants to see you staring out to sea looking pensive, unless that’s how you intend to behave on your date, of course.

But what does your profile picture really say about you?

Drink in hand: alcoholic
Pulling a funny face: ugly when straight-faced
Lots of holiday shots: ripe for gold-digging
Topless: looked like that 5 years ago
With former partner: unable to let go/ partner is dead under floorboards
Alone in untidy lounge: will rape and kill the next date that is 5 minutes late
In fancy dress: manic depressive at all other times
Smiling with mouth closed in all pictures: teeth like park railings
With family: mummy’s boy
Doing a sporting event: makes up for lack of personality by abseiling
Graduation photo: not the kind of person who takes photos of very often, or has achieved very little of interest since
In bright lighting: trying to obscure wrinkles deeper than the Grand Canyon
From far away: Michael Bolton lookalike
Very close-up: horrible body
Varying body sizes and looks: mental, insecure bulimic with body dysmorphia
No picture: Plug from Bash Street Kids/ married
Picture of someone else: Frankenstein’s monster/ married

The Drunk

Here we are again then.

It goes without saying that I haven’t heard back from the previous guy, and I’m not particularly devastated about this.

Gotta tell you, I’m not feeling too confident about this one, either. I can’t discern from his photos whether he’s attractive or not. There’s a lot of sympathetic (i.e. non-existent) lighting and “Oh, look, here I am in the distance!” posing in his pictures.

Within his profile blurb, he seems at pains to point out that he’s quite wealthy so maybe he’s trying to compensate. I don’t even know why I’m going on the date. I am secretly hoping that his photos will just be poor quality, and that in actual real life he will be devastatingly handsome.

He chooses the venue. When I walk in, bang on time, it is empty save for two males sitting at the bar. They are not together.

I think one of them may be the guy but I can’t tell, given that his photos were about as revealing as a child’s drawing on an Etch-A-Sketch.

I stand at the bar and order a drink, taking out my phone to text the date and tell him I am here. The men at the end of the bar don’t look up as I text so I assume he’s not one of them.

Incoming reply: ‘Me too!”

Yes, great. But where? I text again to say I’m standing at the bar. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the man at the very end of the bar move. I do not look in his direction.

He’s coming over.

He pulls up a stool next to me – the screech of it against the floor cutting right through me – and says my name.

I turn. Oh. Oh. I see.

Oh. Continue reading The Drunk

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