Tag Archives: second date potential

The House Whisperer

It is always important to answer questions honestly. Well, as honestly as you possibly can.

So when Mark, a civil servant from Kent, asks me “Do you like looking round old houses?” I should’ve at least replied “Not sure, depends” instead of an over-enthusiastic “Yes! I love that kind of thing”. But he’s so hot and charming (over email, at least) I reckon I can skip the usual first meeting in a pub for something cultural.

In a rare show of confidence in this guy, I am sacrificing the holiest time of the week – Saturday afternoon. I usually spend them wondering if I’m already too old for Topman (probably) and queuing up for coffee (which will have my name misspelled on the side of it). We’re meeting at an opulent house that’s been converted into a museum of, well, nothing in particular. It’s a collection of old curiosities. As I approach, I can almost smell the dust, the culture, the history, seeping out from its windows. It doesn’t really look like it has a bar, which makes me nervous.

Alcohol isn’t always a must on a date, but it helps. Not only can inebriation aid attraction and conversation or soothe disappointment, it is also handy to have something to sip during awkward silences. Will I really be able to fall in love without a glass of beer in my hand?

Mark is there already, nice and early – his bright blue eyes shining. He looks freshly laundered and optimistic. He has beautiful hair and one of his shoes is shinier than the other. I break into a grin. We shake hands and exchange hellos. He looks pleased with what he sees. That feeling never gets old. Not ever.

We step into the building, which smells like long-unopened boxes of letters and dusty old cupboards, and approach a desk staffed by Methuselah’s much older brother.
“I’ll pay,” Mark says. “It was my idea to come.”
I’m impressed by his gallantry, but Destiny’s Child taught me well. “No, it’s OK. I’ll pay for myself.”
He touches my hand. “No, please, let me.” Those eyes.

We begin walking around the house. It’s very beautiful and quiet. So quiet. Quiet is good if you’re at a relaxation spa, not a first date. I try to ignore my nagging doubts about how this is going to go, but they’re the loudest thing in the room.

After three or four rooms filled with paintings and dark furniture, I’m flagging. I plough on gamely by his side while he silently peruses the dog-eared information cards next to each artefact. Everything is behind glass or roped off so you can’t touch it – and that includes my date.

After another couple of rooms, we trudge up a huge polished staircase and when I reach the top I forget myself, giving a huge yawn. Mark looks at me worriedly.

“Are you bored?” he whispers. “Isn’t this the kind of thing you enjoy doing?”
“No, I’m not bored, honestly.” A small lie.
“I thought we’d be talking more,” he admits, his face downcast.
“Oh. Erm. I just thought you were busy reading,” I reply awkwardly.
He brushes his fringe out of his eyes. “I suppose I thought it would be a ‘different’ thing to do,” he sighs. “But I think I’d rather be in the pub. Shall we?”
I smile with relief. My hero. “Yes, let’s. It’ll be good to get to know you better.”
He beams. “You’re right. We should be looking at each other, not a load of pictures.”

And so my newfound work of art puts his hand round my shoulder and we leave behind the antiques and exhibits to get started on a history all of our own.

Stats: 29, 5’9″, blond/blue, Kent
Pre-date rating: 7/10
Post-date rating: 8.5/10
Date in one sentence: I pretend I can get through a first date without going to the pub – and my date proves I can’t.

A truncated version of this post originally appeared in the monthly column I had in Gay Times magazine. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out.

Image: Flickr


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.)

The Late Great

Stats: 26, 5’9”, brown/brown, Midlands
Where: Brixton, SW2
Pre-date rating: 8/10

Punctuality is the politeness of kings, my grandmother always used to say, and while I’m not particularly regal, I do believe the least you can do on a date is get there on time. ‘Fashionably late’ is a flawed, dangerous concept. One man’s height of style is another’s fashion faux-pas. You mustn’t leave anything to chance.

I have just arrived at the bar for tonight’s date with the latest inked entry in my increasingly pathetic social diary. All I know is that he works in construction, has a saint’s name, is a whopping ten years younger than me and looks like he’d attract the sharpest of stares in the thickest of fogs. The rest I’m yet to discover.

I am scanning the cavernous room for potential candidates when my phone beeps. “Sorry to do this, but I’m running late.”

I sigh. Late dates tend to put me in something of a funk. Often, the night struggles to recover. So I have arrived first, which I hate doing. I don’t know why, but there’s something reassuring and romantic about having someone waiting for you, eagerly peering at the door in anticipation of your arrival. And then, when you do finally walk through the door, you can pretend you haven’t seen them, and they have to come up to you. Warm handshakes are exchanged – occasionally, excitingly, a kiss! – and the tone for the date is usually set. Tonight, however, I am to be denied this tiniest of pleasures.

He’s stuck on a bus in heavy traffic and to give him his due, keeps in contact throughout. After asking him what he wants to drink (“Surprise me!” he says. Christ! No pressure, then!) I sit down to wait. His text messages continue to charm. He’s revealing lots about himself without even being in the same room. And nary a sign of a LOL. I fancy him even more now. As an added distraction, there’s a couple at the table next to me arguing over what to order from the menu. After a good 20 minutes of furious, exaggerated whispering, they leave unfed. As they clear out of my sunlight, they are replaced by my date: flustered and handsome, smiling reticently. He seems suitably embarrassed that he is late.

“You chose well,” he grins as he sips his drink.
“Thanks,” I reply. “It’s a lot of pressure to put on someone before you even meet them, you know.”
He laughs. “It wasn’t a test. But you passed it anyway.”
But of course everything is a test on a date, whether we like it or not.

We talk easily and I try very hard not to look him over too obviously, but there’s a lot I want to look at it. He is so effortlessly, insanely scrumptious that I feel almost self-conscious, but if he’s finding me repulsive, he’s hiding it well.

The empty glasses stack up and the lateness is soon forgotten. We talk a lot about his job (I know, boring, but I’ve never dated a builder before!) and the associated stereotypes. All is falling into place remarkably well. He’s hot, funny, hot, interesting, hot and drama-free. And he’s hot. I can’t even begin to imagine what he’s doing here with me. I don’t want his good looks to cloud my judgement, though; I definitely want to know more, what lies beneath. No, not that. Well, yes, that – but not just that.

He has a playful innocence which I don’t think is solely related to his age. He’s refreshingly uncomplicated and level-headed. The only baggage I can see is the largely unremarkable despatch bag he brought with him.

Soon, the night winds down and we leave the pub.
“That’s my bus,” he says, watching it pull away from the stop. If this is a hint at coming back to mine, he doesn’t press it further and I don’t encourage it.
“I’ll wait with you if you like,” I smile.
“No,” he says, “don’t. It’s getting cold.”
“Okay, well let’s do this again soon.”
“Absolutely,” he grins. “My turn to let you be late next time, OK?”
“Don’t worry, I intend to be right on time.”

As I walk away from him and start to meander home, I reach round and give myself a tentative pat on the back.

Nicely played. I hope.

Post-date rating: 8.75/10
Date in one sentence: It’s about bloody time.

A truncated version of this post first appeared in GT magazine, where I write a monthly column about my dating experiences. Find out when the next issue is due on the GT website.

The Christmas Fling

Winter. Brrrr. Mulled wine and Christmas shopping, festive drinks, tinsel and coupledom.

I’m trying not to think about what the festive period is going to be like without a significant other – it’s best not to – but I’m wary of starting something at this time of year. Being alone in winter can be quite scary, but I don’t want to over-compensate, or see romance where there is none, just so I won’t be flying solo during party season. Draping tinsel over a ‘maybe’ shouldn’t make it a ‘yes’.

Nevertheless, here I am on the dating site being very cautiously wooed by our latest contestant. He’s neither brash nor particularly confident but he can’t seem to say a thing wrong. He’s sweet, intelligent, funny and, from his limited number of public pictures, handsome.

He’s a journalist and we talk about pretty much anything, settling into a jocular tone very early on. I don’t ask him out for a drink because I sometimes worry something so perfect electronically can turn out to be only a disappointment when flesh comes into play. If he asks me, however, I won’t say no. The games you play with yourself and others. How beautifully time-consuming and utterly pointless it all is.

He does ask, and my hand is forced.  The date is a long time in the making: conflicting diaries and last-minute work commitments mean that the first meeting is delayed twice. By the time we do meet, December is on the horizon. I am to meet him on a Tuesday night in a pub in a beautiful part of London that’s brimming over with Christmas cheer and ambience. Continue reading The Christmas Fling

The Vision of Beauty

There is no ego boost greater than being contacted by someone very good-looking. I know that beauty is both only skin deep and in the eye of the beholder, and you can call me a shallow old sucker, but you can’t beat a winning smile and a pair of bright, sparkling eyes.

He first contacts me after he sees I’ve looked at his profile. I had only looked in awe, not daring to click ‘Like’, but he gets in touch and tells me the usual openers about liking my profile, and we chat for a few days.

He’s astoundingly hot and intelligent, the kind of guy that would have overbearing mothers salivating and speeding off to M&S to choose their two-piece for your wedding, which would take place in summer in a country house.

Before we can ever get that far, however, we have to arrange a date and I am not keen to ask him out, so fearful am I of the inevitable rejection. Congratulations, I think, you’re a 15-year-old burbling schoolgirl.

This can only end badly. Continue reading The Vision of Beauty

The Backpacker

Stats: 26, 6’3″, blond/blue, Home Counties
When: August 2010
Where: South bank, London
Pre-date rating: 8/10

It’s always surprising when someone gets in touch who you may, at one point, have considered to be out of your league. In an utterly pointless act of ‘playing hard to get’, I have resolved not to add any new men as ‘favourites’ and instead see if they come to me. After all, the first law of internet dating appears to be “The ones you like, don’t like you”, so I figure it’s time to see who likes me. It hasn’t yet occurred to me that I could be faced with months and months of silence, the email inbox where I receive the dating site notifications acquiring a fine layer of dust, with a lone spider building a cobweb just above the last message received: a junk email telling me that the O2 is having a line-dancing extravaganza.

Happily, I never get to find out as my first bite on the line is The Guy, an impossibly tall handsome young man who travels a lot. He sends me the usual email and I am baffled as to why on Earth he would be remotely interested in me. Maybe he likes older, shorter men with lines so deep their faces look like a carving of the London Underground map. We each express an interest in meeting up and then the conversation stops dead – he doesn’t reply and I don’t prod or chase. I’m playing hard to get, remember. I am just about to file him away under “Looks like someone better came along” when he gets in touch. He’s been away travelling as he is writing a book. His time has been taken up with that and he hasn’t had a chance to answer emails but now he has, and would I like to meet up this time? I would, so I say so.  The date is set for a Wednesday evening and, thanks to it being a scorching week, he settles on the south bank, at the bar in the British Film Institute. I groan inwardly. The south bank is always too busy on a sunny evening and has been the scene for some truly terrible dates. He’s not to know that of course, so I say how GREAT that will be and that I’ll see him then. I read through his profile once again, to refamiliarise myself with his stats and all that. He seems to be very much an outdoorsy type – a fact I must have glossed over when he first got in touch. But this is OK. I go outside quite a lot: to the shop, to the pub, you know – the great outdoors. Continue reading The Backpacker

The Keen Bean

The fag-end of summer approaches over the horizon and I have fair torn through the dates in the last 4 or 5 weeks. To say I’m weary by this point is an understatement, and when this guy gets in touch and starts whispering virtual sweet nothings, I’m fairly indifferent.

He doesn’t have a lot to say for himself, and when he does his grasp of grammar isn’t a huge selling point, but he seems a  decent guy and in the absence of any other stimulating suitors, I think I might as well. When I accept his invitation to meet him for a drink, he seems genuinely pleased – excited even – rather than playing it cool and being non-committal, which is kind of a plus after being on the receiving end of so many dreary attempts at ‘mind games’. How refreshing to meet somebody who isn’t going to a date with a gun at his head – myself included. So we agree to meet after work for a couple of pints on a late summer’s eve.

The day arrives and by the time I am heading to the date, it is pissing it down. Summer is having its last laugh. It’s warm, yes, but the rain is torrential and east London looks very sorry for itself as its entire population’s denim cut-offs and flip-flops are drenched in the bucketing rain. If there’s one thing guaranteed to put me in a shitty mood it’s arriving somewhere wet, if you know what I mean, but I try to push these natural urges of fury to one side and paint myself all sunny and smiley in my mind so I don’t give the date the wrong impression – or should that be the right one?

And there he is, waiting for me. He’s fairly attractive, his profile pictures being a true representation of what he looks like, so another point in his favour. (It’s really rare.) He’s dressed in a contemporary style that doesn’t scream fashionable and looks like he knows his way around a bar of soap.

Continue reading The Keen Bean