Tag Archives: first date tips

10 tests every potential boyfriend must pass before you commit

So you’ve been on a couple of dates and it’s going well, but is he boyfriend material?

Stop right there and climb no further on the commitment ladder until you’ve got him through the following ten challenges:

1. Make him chew gum
Mouth open? Drooling? Really inexplicably loud? Bubbles?! Ditch him.

2. Watch him go through a self-checkout machine
More than three unexpected items in the bagging area and he has to go.

3. Take a train or Tube with him
You will see how he reacts to standing etiquette/giving up seats etc but more crucially whether he tries to press the button to open the doors before it is illuminated. If he does, or presses the button on the Tube door, when he knows it’s automatic and is merely there for decoration, he’s a dolt and you should send him whence he came.

4. Sit opposite him during spaghetti for an exclusive preview of what oral sex will be like. Continue reading 10 tests every potential boyfriend must pass before you commit


33 lies you will tell yourself on a first date

1. If I arrive first it will make me look responsible and also like I care and that I’m… not flighty. It will not make me seem overly keen and boring, with nothing else to do tonight, or indeed ever.

2. Arriving late will make me seem mysterious and sexy, and he’ll be panting at my arrival, staring eagerly at the door. He’ll be so pleased I haven’t stood him up that he’ll be overjoyed to see me and we will fall immediately in love.

3. Oh well, it’s better than being stuck in the house.

4. This is not too soon after my breakup. I’m ready.

5. I’m glad I didn’t eat before I came out.

6. I hope he doesn’t stare at my arse when I go to the bar.

7. I’m not going to get drunk.

8. I’m not drunk.

9. He is so wrong if he thinks I am getting another drink.

10. It’s definitely his round. Continue reading 33 lies you will tell yourself on a first date

5 reasons you should never go on a running date

Dating used to be very simple: you meet a series of near-strangers for an awkward drink in a pub that’s always too noisy/busy/rough/far away from a Tube station, decide whether you like them or not and if so do it all over again in a nicer venue and perhaps with food. And then you get married.

Now that everybody has the attention span of a gnat and is swiping left and right on their iPhones without so much as a thought for the kingdoms of emotions they’re quashing, dating has decided it needs a donk on it.

“Let’s go potholing/on a cocktail-making class/sketching/knitting/swing dancing/ice skating” trills this person you have NEVER met before, in an effort to look exciting.

Suggest a drink in a pub to a suitor now and they will think you incredibly old-hat and old-fashioned – unless your chosen watering hole used to be a toilet or an astronaut’s helmet or a nuclear bunker. “Let’s go potholing/on a cocktail-making class/sketching/knitting/swing dancing/ice skating” trills this person you have NEVER met before, in an effort to look exciting. And that’s fine.

But one date you shouldn’t go on? Running. Or any fitness. But especially running. And it is a thing. A guy once asked me out for a running date and I read an execrable magazine column where one of the guys on a date wanted to go running. So it’s officially a thing. And here’s why you shouldn’t do it.

1. Breath
I don’t know much about anything, but I do know that a good date has to have good conversation. Topics to talk about can be hard enough to come up with as it is.

Should you veer into political debate or keep the intellectual level at ‘Heat reader coming round after mild head trauma’? Should you talk a lot or spend most of your time nodding and listening enigmatically, like the Mona Lisa dangling from a set of deelyboppers?

Throw into the mix the breathlessness, huffing and puffing and gasping you’re likely to encounter while running and you may as well try to give a thank you speech midway through an asthma attack.

You won’t be able to talk to each other about anything, because you will be concentrating so hard on not seeming too out of breath so you won’t look perilously unfit and unattractive.

2. Sweat
There’s something to be said for the attractiveness of perspiration. In its mildest incarnation, taking centre-stage in a Diet Coke ad or an Eric Prydz video, sweating can be sexy, true. But some people sweat more than others.

What if some of your running date’s sweat gets on you? How hot for them will you feel as you watch them wring out that wristband at a pedestrian crossing for the fourth time?

Save your sweating for between the sheets.

Congratulations: you’re a towel that someone left in the changing room at the public swimming pool.

3. Red
When I run, something happens to me. And I don’t mean the gentle erosion of my pot-belly and firming of my thighs. It’s my face. It goes red. And not just a gentle faint glow of a red, but full-on grilled tomato, “oh my goodness have you just scalded your entire head”, bright huge beacon of ROUGE that can be seen from space.

And then all the muscles in your face kind of fall to the floor and you look like a roasted pepper that someone forgot to stuff. And don’t forget that you’re sweating. Red and wet. Congratulations: you’re a towel that someone left in the changing room at the public swimming pool.

4. Attire
Getting ready for a date can be a trial when it comes to deciding what to wear. I usually opt for a kind of borderline dull or ‘sexy-boring’ – clothes that won’t shout too much but also won’t make me fade away like a cotton-clad chameleon. Fitness gear though, well, that is a whole different area.

Do you dress like a ‘don’t care’ runner, in baggy old T-shirt and ‘whatever’ shorts with rugby socks and battered old trainers? (The ‘don’t care’ look is always the most calculated of all, but don’t tell anybody that you know this because we’re all just pretending to be someone else really, aren’t we?)

Do you buy all the latest gear and step out in sparkling spandex, a taut and fun-free love letter to neon? Maybe you plump for polished retro and relieve American Apparel of everything on their shelves so you look like an extra from Napoleon Dynamite?

Thinking about this for too long will make your head fall off and there is nothing you can do that is right. Whatever you choose to wear running will be wrong. Guaranteed.

5. Fitness
Your date will have more energy and be fitter than you.
Your date will resent you for being fitter and having more energy and will embarrass themselves by trying to keep up or outdo you. You are basically reserving yourself quite a few angrily scrawled pages in their diary or furiously typed entries on their dreary dating blog.

So, no, don’t. Say no to running dates. Unless you’re running to a pub.

I have a new column in GT where I very carefully go through all the men you should never date. I also try to help with readers’ dilemmas and dole out relationship advice. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

Image: Andrew Head on Flickr.

33 things your date will worry about while waiting for you to turn up

1. “All his photos were taken from quite far away. I hope he’s not a horse-frightener.”

2. “I hope he was joking when he described himself as a flâneur. Because seriously.”

3. “Does my stomach look fat while I sit like this?”

4. “Should I stand up when he gets here so he can see I’m actually quite ripped?”

5. “Should I get a drink while I’m waiting, or hang on until he gets here?”

6. “What should I drink? What will make me look more desirable?”

7. “Maybe I shouldn’t have gone for Tia Maria & Lucozade.”

8. “Will he be able to tell I haven’t brushed my teeth?”

9. “Why did I have onions at lunch?”

10. “Is my voice deep enough?”

11. “If he felt the need to point out he was straight-acting, does this mean if I mention Kylie or Madonna or the fact I like clothes he’ll be annoyed?”

12. “Do I really want to be on a date with someone who says they’re straight-acting?”

13. “I’m sure he used ‘whilst’ in a text the other day. Should I point out how much this annoys me? I know I shouldn’t, but… come on.”

14. “I hope he’s not one of those ones who bang on about their exes all the time.”

15. “If I mention my ex, will he immediately assume I’m not over it?”

16. “Am I over it?”

17. “I am over it. OK, good. How do I look as if I’m really over it?”

18. “How soon into the date can I swear for the first time?”

19. “I wonder if he’s going to be one of those guys who uses really elaborate swear-words. I hate that.”

20. “Should I use the c-word to see if he gasps?”

21. “He’s late. Am I in the right pub?”

22. “If I text to make sure I’m in the right pub, will it look like I am passively-aggressively reminding him he is late?”

23. “This text I’m about to send to ask where he is – kiss on the end or not?”

24. “Maybe two kisses? Is that too many?”

25. “What if he starts on about Lady Gaga?”

26. “What if he doesn’t mention Lady Gaga?”

27. “Is my job interesting enough?”

28. “If I go on about my job, will it look like I’m bragging?”

29. “What slang should I use? I’m too old for ‘sick’, I know. Is ‘cool’ OK?”

30. “Is he late because he doesn’t care about being on time because he doesn’t think it will go anywhere?”

31. “Should I play it cool or play it hot?”

32. “I bet he’s lying about his age. Should I have lied about mine?”

33. “Seriously, where is he?”

So maybe it’s best if you arrive first, or before he goes off you entirely.

Postbag: Is it OK to wear shorts on a date?

I get asked a lot of questions, both on Twitter and over email. Usually it’s things like “Is that your real eye?” or “Who’s that famous person you mention in this blog?” and other times it’s women in America trying to get me to link to their blogs about nannies, or contraception, or gay marriage. And then, very occasionally, it’s even more random than that. Sometimes, it’s just a question, like: “Is it OK to wear shorts on a date?” Well, it’s a valid question. Thank you to the shy young man who sent it. I’m not usually one for doling out fashion advice, but here goes nothing.

The trouble with shorts and the weather
Short trousers present plenty of problems to anyone, let alone an earnest young singleton (I am not talking about myself here) who so desperately wants to make the right impression. First, British summers are hysterically volatile. Like a cat waking up from castration or a cantankerous grandfather who told you not to play in that shed, you never quite know which way it’s going to go. On a grey, breezy morning, should you risk slipping on a pair of shorts in the hope the cloud will burn off later? Or do you play safe and stick to trusty trousers, running the risk of sweltering by lunchtime, your calves gasping for air, for freedom?

Legs: is there room for improvement?
And even if you’re an all-weather shorts-wearer, the kind of guy who’d be found lumbering around supermarket aisles in March in your very best frayed cargo shorts in delightful camouflage print, there are the aesthetics to think about. Lily-white legs, knobbly boulders of knees and gnarled toes are celebrated as an aphrodisiac in precisely zero cultures.

Should you fake tan? Get some kind of pedicure? Well, maybe a little bit of both if you’re looking to impress. Fake tan is more divisive than pro-life and #twittersilence, but if your legs are a particularly lovely shade of blue and you want to wear shorts, there’s no harm in slicking on a really thin layer for a subtle bronzed look. Get a female friend you trust to do this for you – you do not want to look like you’re angling for your own reality show, or bathe in Tropicana. As for toes, if yours are really heinous, then maybe a pedicure would be like sticking a rosette on a pile of sick. Just get some good shoes or canvas shoes. And don’t have any sock showing unless you have really great legs or are kind of ‘hip’ – or are very young – otherwise it will look like a MISTAKE, or like an indignant British taxpayer enjoying a beach in his ‘beyoodiful’ home country in sandals and terry-towelling socks.

So, are shorts appropriate for a date?
If they’re the right kind of shorts, yes. It also depends on where you’re going and when. If you’re meeting during daylight hours and temperature allows, then go for it, unless you’re going to a ‘fancy’ restaurant or think you’ll be out very, very late. Bare knees and goosebumps on a night bus might seem pathetically romantic but it’s just misery with a little bit more mascara on. If it’s in the evening, wear a collared shirt with your shorts – a polo shirt will do, too. The exception, of course, is if you’re one of those young bucks with ‘bodies’ who likes to wear those vests that look as if they blew off a stripper’s washing line in a gale and just happened to land on you. A T-shirt is fine if it’s plain, and fits you, and you’re pretty, but probably best left for the daytime. The trick with any date is to dress as inoffensively as possible, but still be you and stylish.

Play it down
A lot of people think a date is a great time to try lots of, er, self-expression and really show off their ‘unique style’ (shared by around 80 other people in the very same pub as them) but until you’re a few weeks down the line, it probably isn’t. Go too outré on the clothes and your actual personality will be vying for attention with the one you dragged out of your wardrobe. Overdressing can also be seen as a sign you’re overcompensating.

Shorts, of course, play havoc with this idea of playing it down because, despite our best efforts to integrate wearing shorts into society, it is still rather unusual for boys to be bare-legged. This is why your shorts need to be fairly low-key, flattering and, most importantly, fit you. There’s something about the sight of a man’s knees and calves that can drive some men and women wild – so use this leg power to your full advantage.

So, in answer to your question, dear enquirer, it is OK to wear shorts on a date, yes. Happy to help.

7 ways to get him to call after the first date

Getting a first date is fairly easy. Or so they tell me. But getting a first date and going on a first date are nowhere near as big a deal as the ultimate prize, the holy grail of dating, the BIG ONE: securing date number 2.

So many of us miss out on the follow-up date. They say sequels can never live up to their predecessor (mine certainly don’t), but lots of debuts fail to get a second chance to try.

Is there something you can do to smooth the path to ‘date deux’? Maybe. Here are seven for a start. (I use him throughout, but I suppose it works both ways, but I kiss boys not girls, and they do say “write what you know”. Although, I don’t really know much.)

Pay your way
You want to be treated like a prince or princess? Fine, no problem. But even William and Kate have their own wallets. Put your hand in your pocket if you want his fingers to dial your number.

Sort out your attitude to sex
Some facts: not everybody thinks having sex (or going back to theirs for a fumble and/or nakedness) is anathema to getting a second date; having sex on a first date doesn’t mean they will see you again, either. Sex after a first date is not a prize, a reward or a bargaining tool. It can turn some people off you, or be the start of the most passionate of relationships. Do not get too hung up on this. ‘Withholding’ sex (a ridiculous phrase I feel compelled to use) in the hope it will make you like someone more is ridiculous, as is ‘putting out’ for the same reason. Be relaxed and go with the flow. Yes, you can always leave your audience wanting more – but sometimes the passion takes over. Sod it, your mother will not make you wear ivory.

Be honest
If you want things to go beyond the premiere, make sure you have been as straight with your date as injunctions will allow. If you’ve done a bit of bragging, inventing or boasting to seem like a bigger catch, well more fool you, but it needn’t mean you can’t pull back from it. Daters aren’t stupid, though – we can tell a bull-shitter from twenty paces (make it ten if sober). Bigging yourself up is OK – making it up isn’t so great.

Get it in the diary
If you can feel something between you – a spark, a lightning bolt, whatever – then why not talk about some events you’re going to be at or nights out you’ll be having and see if he might be there, or if he’d like to come along? I mean, y’know, you’re going to have to keep this casual as it’s date 1 and all, but if you just drop a few suggestions, he might remember you when he thinks about his plans for the weekend. Then, when he’s there, you can do your best to work your magic.

Keep it light
The chat between you on your date is the major thing – it’s what you’ll be doing most of apart from a) going to the bar b) scurrying to the toilet to text friends or c) smooching (hopefully). So the chat has to be grade-A quality. Keep it witty, bright and breezy. Good-natured, flirtatious badinage is your aim. Leave the heavier stuff like family travails, politics (I’m not saying be shallow but gloss over any potential political differences which may cause conflict), work woes and all that stuff to dates 3 and 4, when you’ve already charmed the pants off them. Believe me, I have tried going in with ‘agenda’ chat and found myself staring at a rainy kerb waiting for the bus home with a phone quieter than a post-apocalyptic library. And hey, do plenty of listening, too – you’re not at the hustings.

Don’t think about it
You know the saying “a watched pot never boils”? Well that’s a load of old baloney, and the person who said it has a hell of a lot of kitchenware with holes in the bottom. But, there is something to be said for having a relaxed attitude when it comes to the follow-up call. Don’t end the date with “So… I’ll hear from you soon, right?” or “Are you going to call me?” – just end with a goodbye, a peck (or more if you’re feeling that way inclined) and when you part, thank them for a great evening and wish them a safe journey home. If it’s gone well and you’re feeling positive, you’ve probably done all you can. No amount of mind control is going to change the outcome. And you know what? He might just call. Or…

Be the one to call
Why wait? Give it two or three days after the first date and send a text, smoothing the way for that phone call. Why not? Nobody ever got anywhere by waiting for something that might never come. Why sit at home wondering why he hasn’t called? Don’t worry about coming across as ‘pushy’ or a ‘stalker’ – he may be shy and really glad you got in touch. What’s the worst that can happen? A refusal? Whatever, there’ll be others. Don’t die wondering. Put yourself in control. If it’s going to turn into anything serious, it’s right where you’ll want to be.

(And, yes, I know it’s not strictly speaking seven ways to get him to call you.)

Why every first date should be a no-food zone

“Let’s meet for dinner. 7pm.”

As statements go, it’s fairly innocuous. No hidden agenda, no gameplaying. As far as you’re concerned, you’ll be eating, chatting and maybe worrying internally about how much wine you can allow yourself on a school night. But transport that remark to the run-up to a first date, and I run for the hills, stomach churning with a dread normally reserved for statements like “The PIN you have entered is incorrect” or “And next on ITV2, a four-hour Katie Price reality show retrospective”.

Going for dinner is a perfectly pleasant experience most of the time, but food on a first date is an absolute no-no for me, even if I’m feeling supremely confident about my table manners. I get asked a lot by followers, readers and various other dating neophytes who cross my path why I’m so anti-grub on date numero uno, so here’s why.

Where to go? WHERE?
Choosing somewhere to go to eat is much more of a challenge than selecting a pub and settling down with a pint of ‘mild’, or whatever takes your fancy. But when cuisine is involved, dates tend to want to impress. They might want to take you to the most ‘buzzy’ place or latest restaurant that’s got everybody talking. They may be either wildly way out of your budget or much scuzzier than what you’re used to.

So, rather than just turning up at a pub, relaxed (or as chilled as you can be when meeting a total stranger) and getting things going on a fairly equal footing, there are already preconceptions galore coming into play and the added burden of hoping your date likes where you’ve chosen. 

The menu hates you
But even if choosing the venue was a breeze, you’re not out of the woods yet. You still have to decide what to eat. Noodles? How are you with chopsticks? Do you want that big, beefy burger? Should you nibble on a salad so your date thinks you’re some dullard calorie-counting leaf-loving gay who cries if they can’t fit into their school uniform once a year?

It’s just dinner, though, right? Does it really matter? Maybe not, but don’t eat anything you wouldn’t want your date peering at splattered all down your shirtfront.

Don’t talk with your mouth full? Or can’t?
Unless you have the table manners of a ravenous pug, if you’re chewing, you’re not going to be doing a whole lot of talking. Chatting, to most dating traditionalists, is an essential part of the first date.

Sure, in 9½ Weeks, food pretty much took the place of breezy banter, but if your date is going to progress, you’re going to have to speak up. Doing that becomes more difficult if you’re navigating your way through steak and chips or slurping spaghetti sauce through those once-kissable lips. Push the plate aside.

Trapped until the tiramisu
So you’ve made it through the venue, menu and inability to get halfway through a sentence without averting your eyes from their big, gaping, chewing, dribbling chasm of a mouth. Now you’ve leapt over all those unnecessary hurdles you introduced, it’s time to get to the main part of the date – the talking, the getting-to-know-you, the chitchat, the badinage. But here’s the thing: you’re barely through your first course of ironic prawn cocktail when you realise you’ve hit a wall – your date is as dull and unappealing as the drying spittle on your cutlery. Your companion for the evening has zero to offer but a migraine-inducing jeremiad about single mothers, the unemployed and their contribution to society. Your fork, once held so playfully in your hand as you raised it flirtatiously to your mouth, is now a spear longing to embed itself in your date’s face. The table and chair are now your prison – until this meal is over, you’re not going anywhere.

Were you to be merely out for drinks, you could swiftly down your drink, check your watch, give a cheery “Well this was lovely, but I really must be on my way” and sprint for the exit, holding your arms aloft in elation at your escape. But your date now has you where he or she wants you, for the next hour at least, until all the food you ordered has been served and eaten. You knew you shouldn’t have gone for that Chateaubriand. Bloody hell.

Post-nosh breath and belly-busting blunders
But maybe you made it all the way through. Far from being the passion-killer I’ve feared all along, your meal was a triumph, a romantic coup second only to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. So as you smooth down your napkin in a satisfied manner and slowly drain the last of your wine, never once removing your eyes from your next course, which is handily sitting opposite you and licking their lips, you broach the subject of what to do next. Retire to a nearby bar for a first-date snog? Or maybe even take things a little bit further. Well, I’m not one to judge, but what I will say from personal experience is that a full tummy does not lend itself well to desire. Your hunger for nosh has been sated, and in the process it’s likely you won’t be feeling too famished in the bedroom department, either.

Not only will your belly be bursting with the first-date feast you’ve just devoured, but your breath will also be playing host to whatever you just ate too. Garlic, onions, little bits of beefburger are all there waiting to be discovered by your date’s tongue. It’s enough to give anyone indigestion – and once you start rolling passionately around on a bedspread with a bellyful of pasta, that’s another you’ve probably got to look forward to.

So leave the pasta and the prawns and the salad and the soup for date three or four. Stick to the basics for your first date. You’ll thank me for it later. Maybe. Come on, put the fork down. You’ll have someone’s eye out.