By; Natasha Devon
Eighteen months ago, I was a long-term singleton. I’d decided
that my taste in men had become a little too stringent and
restrictive (i.e. I always dated the same sort of guy and was left
feeling bemused when they kept showing themselves to be
scoundrels). So, I was set a challenge by my friends, in hope of
changing the status quo – I was to join a dating site and I HAD
TO accept every date I was asked on over the next six weeks.
A month and a half later I’d been on nearly 60 first dates (and
can confirm that it is truly exhausting having to represent only
the most palatable aspects of your personality over a prolonged
period, I don’t know how the Duchess of Cambridge does it). I
dated every type of man you could possibly think of, from every
possible profession and background, ranging from 23 to 65
years old. I learned quite a lot about humanity, I like to think.
I also noticed a few common dating faux pas nearly all men
make. That’s not to say that aren’t totally understandable……But
they’re also massive turn-offs (hence why the sixty first dates
only resulted in one second date). So, here they are, my gift to
you, single men of Britain:
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1. Not having a plan.
It doesn’t matter how feminist and independent you believe your
date to be, we love a man who is good at decision making.
Please do not arrange to meet us at the Tube station and then
say, “so, where do you fancy going?” This question fills us with
dread. We spent three hours getting ready for this thing. We’ve
done our bit. We just want to be taken somewhere nice, please.
Bonus points if you say something like “I was thinking about
going here as I’ve heard it’s great, unless you had somewhere in
mind you’d prefer?” This shows you are decisive AND flatters
our feminist sensibilities. We will swoon.
2. Saying “so why is a beautiful girl like you single?”
This is a stupid question on a couple of levels. First of all it
makes us think you’re the sort of bloke who believes the dating
game is just one long queue of girls, all of whom are DESPERATE
for a boyfriend and are standing in order of physical
attractiveness, waiting for the next man to walk past. Life is not
the television show Take Me Out and we don’t want to go out
with a man who thinks it is. Secondly, it immediately makes us
wonder why YOU’RE single, before concluding that you’re
probably either a serial killer, one of those guys that has a house
full of “love dolls” or secretly married.
We know you’re trying to pay us a compliment and that’s lovely,
but just telling us we look nice is fine.
3. Admitting you’re nervous.
This is the sort of admission that should only ever happen in
retrospect. If it’s five years hence, you’re married and you’re
having all your other married friends over for dinner one
evening then by all means say “you know the first time I took
Sarah out I was SO nervous I had to dash to the toilet seven
times in the half hour I was waiting for her to arrive”*. This will
seem sweet when we know and love you. Before that, however,
it’s just a bit weird.
*This example assumes that your partner is called Sarah. Toilet-
based anecdotes about girls you dated who aren’t your present
girlfriend/wife are almost never acceptable.
4. Acting like you don’t care.
Having said the above, behaving as though we are utterly
disposable and as though this is the sort of thing you do every
night isn’t very attractive either. Even if you DO go on dates with
different women every night, making us feel special, unique and
cherished is the cornerstone of every healthy relationship and
also, more short term, the non-negotiable key to getting into our
knickers. Things that will make us think you aren’t giving the
date sufficient gravitas include yawning, playing with your
phone* and turning up in any sort of sportswear.
5. *Playing with your phone
Put. The. Phone. Away. PLEASE.
6. Asking a question then looking really uninterested as soon
as the answer comes.
Sounds really obvious, but you’d be surprised how many guys do
this. It’s as though they’re actually there purely to soak up the
ambience of the pub and their date’s company has been
requested solely so they don’t look like a Billy No Mates. Do not
ask us something, then glance lazily around (especially not at
other girls in the vicinity) as soon as we open our mouths to
respond. This is not how a conversation is supposed to go and
however subtle you think you’re being, we always notice.
Call us demanding, but in addition to expressing a verbal
interest in our lives, we expect you to stick around in the
conversation long enough to hear our response.
7. Saying ‘tell me something about you no one else knows’.
Right, first of all, we are women and by our nature confessional
– there’s virtually nothing that, between them, our Mum, best
friend and most trusted work colleague don’t know about us.
Secondly, even if there was, we’re hardly likely to share this
scintillating fact with someone who was, 14 minutes ago, a
complete stranger. Thirdly, this then puts us on the spot to recall
something really unusual and ‘zany’ about ourselves, at which
point every zany and unusual thing we have ever thought or
done will immediately evaporate from our memory and there
will be a cavernous, awkward silence during which we will both
wish we were dead.
8. Doing the ‘mid-point date assessment’.
If there is one sentence guaranteed to kill any sort of spark it’s
“so, how do you think it’s going?”. We do not wish to analyse
this date halfway through it, with you, thank you. We wish to
analyse it with our best girlfriends – initially via the medium of
text whilst you are in the loo and then further the next evening
over several glasses of Pinot Grigio.
9. Bad-mouthing other dates you have been on.
This is the dating equivalent of being the office gossip who
spend their days spreading spurious personal information from
desk-to-desk and then wonders why they aren’t invited to the
pub at six o’clock. Your dating horror stories are fascinating and
we will be enthusiastic because we really, really want to hear
them. But we’ll also then immediately be on our guard,
wondering if this date is a future anecdote for another date you
might go on.
If you’re interested in watching in horror as someone second-
guesses each word that comes out of their face in case it’s used
to incriminate them at a further juncture, may I suggest instead
watching Question Time.
10. Talking about your ex/Asking about her ex
Ah, the holy grail. We all know we shouldn’t do it. Every
magazine article, dating manual and wise older person has
warned us against this particular pitfall for as long as we can
remember. Yet for some reason I was asked about my ex on
approximately 80% of the dates I went on and, as a direct
consequence, I actually ended up missing my ex a little bit.
To be avoided. At all costs.
And here’s some “dos”:
– SMILE! – It doesn’t cost anything and it makes you look sexy.
– Insist on paying – A controversial one, this. We’re always happy
to go halves or even to pay for the whole thing BUT if you
absolutely insist we’ll assume you’re having deeply loving
feelings towards us.
– Walk us to the station/put us in a cab/in some way show that
you are bothered about what might befall us during our journey
– Text immediately you get in to say what a lovely night you had
– Even if it’s a lie. It’s just British good manners.
Et voila. Happy dating, fellas!