Are people at their best or worst on first dates?

Last night I had my first date with Salsa Cop.

I’m not sure what to think.

Yesterday I felt more excited about a date than I have in a long time.

I had a stressful day. All weekend I felt ill with a cold. On Sunday, I stayed over at a friend’s house. Then, yesterday morning, I drove to work from hers. I was feeling quite spaced out and scatterbrained from the cold.

When I got to work, I opened the boot of my car and spent a few minutes fannying about, transferring things between my work bag and my overnight bag. I slammed the boot shut, and then I suddenly realised my keys were still inside.


I had locked my keys in the car.

Panic set in as I tried to figure out what to do. All my keys are on the same bunch, so my house keys were also gone. If I couldn’t fix this problem, I couldn’t drive home after work. Even if I got public transport, I couldn’t get into the flat if Joe was out. Lots of things I needed were also in the car.

There is a spare car key, but it’s probably somewhere in my storage unit several miles away, and the key to that is in the house, and the key to the house is in the car…

I went into work and called the RAC, my breakdown cover company, to see if they covered this situation. They do!

I had back to back patients all day, so we agreed they’d come after work.

I realised I would probably have to cancel my date. I had no idea how long I’d be waiting in the car park, for them to come and rescue my keys, before I could drive home, get ready and get the train into central London.

I really didn’t want to cancel though. I texted Salsa Cop explaining the situation and proposing an alternative plan – instead of meeting in a bar on Oxford Street as planned, I could drive myself to the part of south London where he lives, whenever my keys were free.

He was really nice about this.

In the end, I managed to move things around so the RAC could come at lunchtime, and the man rescued my keys in two minutes (while managing to take the piss out of my job at the same time).

I had never been so pleased to see those little fellas on that key ring.

So we were able to revert to our original plans. However, it kind of felt like we had bonded over keygate. We had exchanged several messages about keys and the RAC.

So this evening, I arrived on Oxford Street a bit early. I went in some shops while I waited. I looked at myself in the mirror in Topshop and was annoyed I looked a bit haggard, because of being ill.


I was looking around, outside the bar, seeing if I could see him, when he walked over and said hello.

I wasn’t sure if it was him at first. He looked more manly and less boyish than I expected from his photos.

We did an awkward half-hug, half aborted handshake, with my earphones tangled up in my hands.

We walked into the bar and found somewhere to sit. He had been there several times before, and was acting very much like a tour guide, which was sweet.

I really liked the bar – London Cocktail Club. It was dark and there was graffiti decor vibe. I liked the music (cheesy 90s) but realised it was too loud to have a normal conversation. This was going to be a problem.

We decided to move to the other side of the room, where we thought it would be quieter, but it turned out to be even louder and also very dimly lit.

I was fine the near-darkness, as it disguised my haggardness.

We settled into talking. He asked how I managed to lock my keys in the car, in a gentle piss-taking way which I liked.

He seemed really interested in my job and told me all about his, which he was clearly passionate about.

I fancy him. I thought, as we talked. I felt slight gynaecological stirrings I hadn’t felt for a long time.

He was probably more attractive than his photos. He had a youthful face, with freckles, but he seemed manly at the same time. He had nice green eyes with dark eyelashes and his face had a generally good layout.

And there was something attractive about his manly, kind of testosterony but also measured and curious demeanour.

His leg touched mine under the table and I felt totally on board with that development. 

I would like this man to kiss me. I thought. And probably more.

He explained what kind of policing he does. Basically, he’s not a normal police officer. I won’t say any more than that, because I don’t want the SAS to burst into my flat and make me delete my blog at gunpoint, but he does quite an impressive type of policing.

He was definitely fine with emphasising how fancy his policing is.

He talked a lot about his job, but also asked me lots of good questions, referring back to things we’d texted about. He seemed interested in what I said.

We talked about human trafficking for longer than is probably standard on a first date as we both sometimes encounter it through work.

We talked about True Crime things like Serial, and Making A Murderer. This was probably my favourite part of the night. We were both giving our perspectives – his police expertise and my Psychological.

As the night progressed, I realised something.

He talks A LOT about work. 

A lot of it was really interesting, but it was too much. Everything seemed to relate back to his job. For example, we talked about my parents living up north. I wanted to say more about this, but after I said how long it takes to drive to see them, he said “reminds me of when we had a job in Bradford…” and we were back on his work.

We talked about the flat I’m buying, and that led onto talking about driving versus public transport in London. Suddenly we were talking about his work car and how the mileage is tracked, and how one of his colleagues got caught using his car for non-work purposes. And he’d already told me some of this over text.

Still, I fancied him and wanted him to kiss me.

And some of the policey stuff was quite hot.

He had seemed confident enough to let our legs touch under the table (unless it was an accident) so I assumed we would kiss before the end of the night. Especially as the bar had got quieter and our corner was incredibly dark.

When there was a pause in the conversation, I didn’t rush to fill it, as awkward pauses lend themselves better to making moves. (It’s much easier to kiss me if I’m not mid-sentence.) However, he didn’t make any moves.

We talked about getting a third drink; there had been table service when we first arrived, but that seemed to have dwindled, and we’d had empty glasses for a long time.

“I think the bartender who was serving us has gone home actually. About half an hour ago, I noticed her with a coat on… SORRY it’s a police thing! I can’t help noticing what’s going on around me.” He said.

Thanks Poirot.

We carried on talking, and a bit later on he leaned in.

Here we go… bit of kissing action…

No. He leaned to whisper that he thought the people at the next table were taking drugs in the toilets.

“Oh. Huh.” I replied.

“I’m not going to do anything – they’re not hurting anyone. I just thought it was interesting!”

I thought it really was not interesting at all. Other than making me think I miss drugs. I miss my 20s.

Then I remembered that when I went to the toilet and looked in the mirror, I had noticed some tiny bits of flaky, dead, white skin around my nostrils because of having a cold and blowing my nose a lot over the weekend. Hopefully I had managed to cover them with makeup, but I hoped he didn’t think I was doing drugs of my own.

After a while, we left. I hoped we might kiss on the walk back to the tube, but it was only a one minute walk, and we didn’t. We hugged at the top of the escalators at Oxford Circus.

It felt like a sincere hug, rather than a polite hug.

He said “I’ll text you tomorrow – actually, text me letting me know you got home safely.”

On the train home, I thought I definitely wanted to see him again, even though he was very policey.

He has a very impressive job, and I’m sure he’s found that when he talks about it, people are impressed, so if he wanted to come across well on our date, maybe he kept thinking Must talk about work… must talk about work…

It got me wondering how much you can tell what someone is really like, from a first date. Obviously, you’re likely to be a bit nervous, and the conversation is never going to flow like it does with someone you’re comfortable with. Maybe the unusual context and the sexual tension, alcohol and nerves give an unrepresentative picture of what we’re like.

With Salsa Cop, it could be that he’s not usually like this – maybe when he’s comfortable, he’s a bit relaxed about letting the conversation meander away from work. He definitely seemed interested in what I had to say, and asked me thoughtful questions.

Or it could be that this is what he’s always like, and the thoughtful questions were just first date effort.

Maybe what we’re like on first dates is actually the truest version of ourselves? Maybe the nerves and spotlight distil us to a more intense version of exactly what we’re like.

And then there’s second dates! One of my female friends says she is always fine on first dates, but then if that goes well, she builds up too much pressure on a second date, and acts like an idiot.


Anyway, shortly after arriving home, I remembered I was supposed to text Salsa Cop.

This morning, I was more relieved than I expected, when he sent me this:

I thought it was pretty cute.

And of course – even in a message about kissing me, he managed to bring up work.

Bless him.

18 thoughts on “Are people at their best or worst on first dates?

  1. Aww, I like him! He does talk a lot about work – that is concerning. However, as you get to know him, you could tell him to ease off. 😉 Or he might just naturally ease off. He might have been trying to impress you.

    I’d say it’s a crap shoot whether someone’s on their best or worst on a first date. It’s probably very individual… like if they’re feeling well, or if they’ve had a bad day, etc. I talked too much on my first date with Dr Russia, which is something I rarely do! (I still don’t know why I did that, by the way.)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m really glad to hear that this date went well – and that you fancied him! I think your theory that he talked about his job a lot because it tends to be what people respond to / are impressed by is probably correct. I don’t do fancy policing (just a bog standard DC) but I am trying really hard to develop interests outside of work (as much as my shifts allow) to avoid becoming one-dimensional because I see it happen to a lot of cops. Anyway hopefully as he relaxes the conversation may broaden and it’s good that he was interested in what you had to say. Very promising!

    Liked by 1 person

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