I recently went on a date with a handsome young man. We met on the dating app ‘Happn’. I have mixed feelings about Happn, because you get very little information about the person; you just get photos, and if they can be bothered, a sentence or two they’ve written about themselves. Most importantly, it uses your phone’s GPS to identify people you’ve crossed paths with. It feels a bit like it prioritises appearance and convenience over compatibility. But then, I guess there could be a lot to be said for appearance and convenience. Can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with.
According to his profile, he was in his late 20s and really, really handsome. We exchanged a few messages, and pretty early on he suggested meeting for a drink. One Friday night we half-arranged to meet the next evening, but later that night he then rescinded the offer as he got too drunk, and needed to recover the next day. Little bit underwhelming.
However, he seemed keen to reschedule, the following week, and I couldn’t think of any reason why not. After the doomed Amersham Sex Weekend I was very open to distractions with anyone who didn’t seem, frankly, terrifying.
I had low expectations, as our brief messages had given me the impression that we didn’t have much in common. I’m at the more earnest, left-wing end of the spectrum and this fella seemed quite corporate. He works for a multi-national, online shopping company, doing something very clever, and he loves it because ‘they have table football and you can wear what you want on Fridays’ (he reminded me of Mae in the Circle – which you should read if you haven’t). He had just bought a Jaguar. I’m sure lots of women would love this, but I’m the kind of contrary, reverse-snob idiot who would be more impressed by a man having a Nissan Micra that’s older than mine.
So I arrived at the bar with low expectations, but I also felt nicely nervous, as always.
First impression: looks exactly as handsome as his photos.
There was a bit of shilly-shallying at first; he had been sitting at a table indoors, but it was a lovely warm evening, and this bar has a nice, but very busy, garden that looks out over the river. I was keen to sit outside. I wasn’t sure if it was emasculating that I edited his choice of table but he did say “is this OK?” after we said hello, so I ventured a “shall we see if there are any tables outside?”. I then sloped outside to grab the distant, available table we had identified, while he waited for ages at the bar.
During the first drink, I thought it was going OK, but I was reserving judgment. He works in IT, and although it’s sexy, impressive IT, he kind of seemed like someone who works in IT. It was pretty easy to chat to him, but I wasn’t sure. The conversation wasn’t blowing my skirt up.
By the second drink, it was all flowing a bit more easily.
We have got stuff in common! I thought. I think the main thing we had in common, was that we were both under the influence of a) cocktails and b) pheromones.
Then, he told me a story that made my underwear fall off a bit. His new Jaguar came up in conversation. He said he bought it to celebrate getting his driving licence back. At first, I thought this was even worse than buying a Jaguar for the usual reasons (whatever they are). I was ready to be disapproving, assuming he lost his driving licence for speeding or drink-driving, but the real reason was completely unexpected.
He wasn’t allowed to drive for 6 months, after having a cardiac arrest.
One night, last year, he collapsed in the street and was resuscitated by a stranger. His heart stopped beating for several minutes and I think he said he woke up in an ambulance. After lots of tests, no one could find a reason for his cardiac arrest, but he has a tiny defibrillator in his chest now, in case it happens again. He said it had made him see life differently and made him less scared of things. I wondered if it was weird that him nearly dying made me fancy him more.
We drank a lot of cocktails. I remember saying a few times that I was still pretty sober, which is surprising as I wasn’t. We moved inside when it got cold, and sat at a new table, at right angles to each other. Suddenly I felt his knee touch mine under the table. Was that an accident? Then he got up to go to the bar and I felt a bit disappointed when his knee went with him.
He came and sat back down, and we carried on talking. After a while, his hand very gradually made its way on to my knee. I tried to re-position my leg to demonstrate that I was on board with this.
He said “I like your jacket” about my £20 denim jacket from H&M. He had already said that once.
“I like your under-the-table, hand-on-knee moves,” I replied.
He said “I kind of want to kiss you”.
“Really!” I replied.
He did. It was good.
The bar was closing and he suggested we go back to his, as it was nearby. I said that it wasn’t the right time of the month for anything advanced, and he said “oh no, I just meant to carry on drinking.”
Somehow, despite my better judgement, we ended up walking back to his, holding hands. I was adamant that nothing naughty was going to happen, because of the haemoglobin chastity belt. When I’ve been in a relationship with someone for a while, I don’t mind putting the Official Period Towel down, but you don’t want the bed to end up looking like a crime scene after your first shag.
Also, even if I wasn’t surfing the crimson wave, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to have sex on the first date. For someone who is writing a blog about their sex life, I’m actually a bit of a prude. I have had sex on the first date, a couple of times, but I’ve tended to regret it, and prefer dragging things out a bit. I once gave someone a blowjob in a cupboard within a few hours of meeting them, but in my defence, it was at a New Year’s Eve party and I’d had a very tough year.
Maybe it’s because, when I was a teenager, The Rules was my bible (which recommends not rushing into sex). I also loved Alicia Silverstone’s logic in Clueless “you see how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet”.
And prior to that, the actual Bible was my bible. That’s right – I’m at the much more agnostic end of the spectrum now (if that) but as a teenager I was quite religious and for a while, I said I wasn’t going to have sex before marriage. I’m not sure my parents were even on board with this development. I think everyone was relieved when this petered out. (Around this time I also said I wasn’t ever to go to drink alcohol, which is pretty fucking astonishing if you know me now).
Anyway, we went back to his, and I tried to be impressed by the Jaguar in his driveway.
His flat was nice. It’s in London, and he’s not a millionaire, so it was obviously a studio flat, but a nice one. He had a nice amount of clutter around the place – hardly any, but some. I think some boys’ homes can be a bit austere, with no homely touches at all, but he had the odd bit of football memorabilia and things dotted around.
We did some quite advanced level kissing, which was really good, except I had to keep reinforcing the no-sex boundary, and redirecting his hands.
Why do boys do this? I mean, I know why really, but what do they expect? Do they think that if you’ve said no to sex, but their hands are nonchalant and surreptitious enough, half an hour later you’re going to be lying in post-coital bliss thinking “I’m sure there was something I meant not to do today”?.
After a while, it was late and I was bored of trying to say “no, come on” or “we can’t” in a way that was both strict and yet alluring and breathy, so I decided to go home.
He booked me an Uber, which is the height of gallantry these days. Some racy and complimentary texts were exchanged while I was on my way home.
Despite his persistently wandering hands, the whole evening had felt so much more easygoing than my recent experiences. Overall, I had a good night.