Dates – the underwhelming and the terrible

Recently I went on two dates in 24 hours.

The first was on a Saturday night, with a Spanish physicist.

We had a flurry of messages on OkCupid, which petered out after a few days.

A week or two later, I remembered about him. We had messaged each other about our favourite English words, which I enjoyed. From his profile it looked like we liked the same things. I restarted the messages and we arranged to meet.

When I first saw him, waiting outside the Underground, my first impression was that he looked more physicsy than I expected.

When I was at uni, my friend and I noted that people who did Physics tended to wear quite outdoorsy clothes. For example, they might wear trainers that look pretty sturdy and would be fine for hiking, or they might have a North Face anorak as their everyday coat.

This guy looked cooler than a British Physicist, but the way he had brought an umbrella, in case it rained, still felt Physicsy.

We walked down to the river and we had a slightly awkward chat about the Canary Islands.

After walking along the river for a bit, we went into a pub and bought drinks. We sat outside.

We talked about his Physics PhD and science in general. We talked about politics and I found it interesting hearing a more European perspective. We talked about Podemos, the new Spanish left-wing party. He said my jacket reminded him of them because it was the same colour as their logo.

We talked about music. Sometimes when someone is from another country, you don’t have the same cultural references, but he seemed to have always been an Anglophile, so he had opinions about British bands and things from long before he moved to England. We talked about Pulp and Morrissey.

After a couple of drinks, we walked more, to a different tube station.

When we went our separate ways, we didn’t kiss but did say something vague about doing it again.

It was a perfectly pleasant evening. It’s hard to put into words what was missing.

I think in dating, people can get so obsessed with the spark, that monitoring for the spark prevents the spark happening.

There certainly wasn’t a spark here. I’m more concerned about whether we have things in common, which we did – we had lots in common and the conversation flowed OK – but somehow that didn’t seem enough.

It also turned out he is moving to Canada soon, which made the whole thing seem even more pointless.

After we said goodbye, I felt an overwhelming sense of boredom and frustration.

I wanted to find someone to grab and snog on the train home, just for a bit of excitement.

I should be careful what I wish for, because I did end up getting my bum groped by a drunk Irish man on the train.

I actually would’ve considered a second date with the Spanish Physicist, as the conversation was OK and he wasn’t bad-looking, and some people are slow burners.

But he never texted me, and I never texted him. Presumably he noticed the lack of spark too.

Maybe since he was bringing the Physics, he expected me to bring the Chemistry.

Forward musician

The next morning, I joined Tinder. I am on other dating apps, but keep being told that Tinder is the best because ‘everyone is on Tinder’.

I lay in bed that Sunday morning, swiping left and right.

One of the first messages was a guy who looked handsome. His profile said he was a musician and he mentioned having perfect pitch.

I replied saying I was impressed by his perfect pitch.

He replied saying he was impressed by my face.

I said that was a lovely thing to hear.

He said “I could’ve complimented your breasts but I thought it would’ve been rude.”

I was a bit taken aback. Not least because you could hardly tell what my breasts are like from my photos. I said as much, and that he was being a bit forward.

He asked if I wanted to meet for lunch.

This seemed a bit forward as well. But after the frustration of the previous night, I was kind of up for it. Plus I was hungry.

I wandered through to the living room and asked Joe, my flatmate, if this was common on Tinder. I had the impression things move faster on Tinder.

Joe wasn’t convinced, but by then I had decided I was dying for a roast dinner.

I said “Ok. Why not?” to the Forward Musician.

By the time we’d finished arranging the lunch, I was certain I did not want to meet him. He’d been so annoying about the arrangements.

He insisted we meet at a Harvester in Slough, because he’s a vegan and ‘Harvester do a surprisingly good range of vegan options.’

I can’t help feeling that very few of the world’s great romances have started in a Harvester in Slough.

If it absolutely had to be a Harvester, I suggested we meet at one nearer me, but he assured me the Slough one was not far away.

He also said “what time shall I pick you up?”

“No thank you, I’ll drive myself there.” I replied.

As if I’d hop straight into a car with a brand new stranger who already seems, let’s face it, a bit iffy!

My stranger-danger sensor made me wonder if he was a serial killer, and that was why he was trying to get me into his car.

However, I’m so British, that the social awkwardness of saying I’d changed my mind seemed worse than being murdered.

Plus, I really wanted a roast.

Joe was very keen for me not to go, as he was worried I’d end up in pieces in a wheelie bin behind Slough Harvester.

“He’s probably not a serial killer, he’s probably just very annoying!” I said cheerily as I applied my makeup.

I think part of me found the danger a bit sexy. He had been annoying but it came across like he was sexily tearing up the rule book of social conventions.

I drove to Slough. It was a lovely sunny day.

We met near the entrance of the Harvester.

He was handsome in person. He said hello in a nice way, and asked about my journey. He suddenly seemed apologetic about how inconvenient it had been for me.

This could be OK! I thought.

A waitress escorted us to our table. I had been about to suggest we sat outside in the lovely sun, but we were led to a dark corner of the restaurant and seated next to a window with the blinds firmly closed.

Never mind.

We sat down and opened our menus. Normally I would get stuck into some conversation to get to know each other but I was starving, so I surveyed the menu in silence.

My main reason for agreeing to the date was that I really wanted a roast Sunday lunch, and the quicker that was ordered, the better.

He was talking, so I half-listened while scanning the menu.

Come on, where is it! Roast roast roast…

He was still jibbering-jabbering – something or other about being a vegan. I shushed him as politely as I could, so I could sort out this roast.

There’s no roasts on here!

I kept looking on the back of the menu and then back to the front, in case the writing had changed.

Harvesters are a slightly naff chain of restaurants in England, that serve pretty traditional English food. I haven’t been to many Harvesters, but it just seems like the kind of place that would definitely do roasts.

The waitress came back.

“Is there a separate menu with the roasts on?” I asked optimistically.

“No, we don’t serve roasts.” She replied.

I felt like flipping the table over.

I ordered a chicken dish that seemed the closest thing.

She left. The Forward Musician and I exchanged weak smiles across the table.

“So, how long have you been living round here?” I asked.

“Since 27th February.” He replied.

The fact I’m a therapist came up, and he immediately launched into his mental health problems. After talking about this for several minutes, he suddenly seemed annoyed, as I had made him, when all I had done was state my job title.

“Actually, I don’t want to talk about this too much, as it is a date!” He said.

“Yeah, sure sure sure. That’s fine.” I replied.

We talked a bit about work, and he went into a lot of detail about not getting on with his boss. I’ve had this on dates before, and although I love a bit of gossip, I only really want a lot of detail about workplace drama if I work there too.

Then we moved onto politics. Normally I like this, especially if we agree, which he and I really did, but this conversation was not fun.

He was delivering these impenetrable, 40 minute slabs of speech, which didn’t make a lot of sense. He would say things that weren’t quite correct, or didn’t make sense, or he would take half an hour to say something obvious that could be said in one sentence.

For example, I said something about there being more right-wing newspapers in the UK than left-wing. He then went into a long monologue about how “some sections of society get most of their information from the media!”

How else would they get their information? I wondered. The conclusion of his speech seemed to be that the news was BAD because it makes people anxious.

He was doing about 95% of the talking. Every so often, he would realise it was my turn, and say “anyway, what do you think?”.

I would have zoned out a bit by that stage, like I was driving on the motorway and his voice was something on Radio 4 I wasn’t paying attention to. I would be so out of the habit of talking, I would say “err, yeah! I agree with some of what you said.”

Sometimes, he would throw in an incongruous reference to a philosopher, which would make me frown in confusion and surprise. I thought I was going to get the giggles when Gustav Flaubert made an appearance.

After I’d eaten a good amount of the disappointing chicken, I went into the ladies’ toilets. I didn’t really need to go, I just wanted a break.

I texted Joe “probably not a serial killer. Defo autistic.”

There is a rule that the American Psychiatric Association follow, the ‘Goldwater rule’, which states they shouldn’t give professional opinions on people they haven’t personally examined. It has been in the press recently, because some mental health professionals said they are so concerned about Donald Trump’s apparent ‘paranoid and delusional behaviour, they were breaking this rule to warn the public.

I do write about the mental health problems of guys I’ve dated on here. In fairness, some of these problems have been diagnosed by other professionals.

And I have ‘personally examined’ most of them. Usually very thoroughly.

But also, I’m not a doctor, or a clincial Psychologist. In theory, I can’t diagnose my own patients (even though I have to record a diagnosis for every patient I see). It does feel like I shouldn’t speculate about someone’s psychological issues on here, especially after only one date.

So, let’s just say, if this guy turned out to have a diagnosis of autism, I wouldn’t be that surprised. But he may well not, and I’m not an expert in autism,  and I’ve only met him once.

It just seemed like he was struggling reading social cues and things like taking turns in the conversation.

When we were messaging each other on Tinder that morning, I found it sexily dangerous that he seemed to be tearing up the social rule book. After meeting him, I realised he wasn’t following social rules because he didn’t know them.

If he is autistic, I feel bad for being negative about him, for things that aren’t his fault. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a bad guy, just hard work to be around.

I spent ages in the toilets. I don’t think I’ve ever washed my hands so thoroughly.

When I sat back down, I said “I probably need to go soon-ish.”

He asked me if I wanted to do it again, and I said something positive but non-committal. I feel bad about that now, as I should’ve been more honest.

What I would take away from this experience, is that you can probably tell quite a lot from your messages with someone, about whether you should meet. With the Spanish Physicist, maybe the fact our messages initially petered out, meant there wasn’t going to be chemistry.

With the Forward Musician, I knew by the time the lunch was arranged, that we wouldn’t get on.

I think there is an optimal amount of messaging, before arranging to meet. In the past, I’ve had it where we messaged each other for too long. You can’t really know what someone is like until you meet, and after a certain amount of messages, if you like them, you start filling in the gaps with your ideal person, which they can’t possibly live up to.

On the other hand, arranging to meet after about 5 minutes is probably too soon. It’s not enough time to tell if you’re going to get on.

I’m not sure what the optimal time is yet.

6 thoughts on “Dates – the underwhelming and the terrible

  1. I really despise those “Should I give it more time to assess chemistry?” dates and the “Damn, I should have known better” dates. I’m sorry they didn’t turn out better.

    I agree there’s an optimal time from first text to first date. I’ve met guys way too soon and way too late, usually with poor results for the reasons you mentioned. And sometimes I just didn’t slow down and listen to my inner voice telling me something was off.

    I have learned that I need to be pretty excited about a guy to go through with the first date. It doesn’t always mean the date is a success, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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