I wish I could say that my motivation for this challenge was purely journalistic. That I had thought of a light, fun challenge to see out my twenties in style, and that was all.
Don’t get me wrong, the challenge has definitely put a grin on my face so far, however there is a slightly sadder reason why I’m throwing all romantic caution to the wind, and agreeing to fill my diary with first dates for the next three months.
You see, this time last month, I was on The Perfect Date.
After months tentatively internet dating, and spending my time online deleting message after creepy, odd, message, I had started chatting to a guy with actual potential. Up until this point, I had only ever met up with one guy, who I had met online, and the ‘date’ had turned out to be rather disappointing. It made me realise how easy it is to form an inaccurate picture of someone, when all you have to go on are text messages or emails. Words mean different things for different people. And so I discovered, when my first ever ‘internet date’, turned out to be anything but ‘confident’, ‘outgoing’ and ‘6 foot 2’!
With this in mind, I tried not to get too excited, as Henley Boy began messaging me. He was someone I had already noticed on the dating website. His pictures were attractive, and his profile casual, but down-to-earth. A casual message asking me about a sport I was playing in one of my profile photos led to a 5-hour conversation over the dating site. A day later, and we were texting.
We texted all of that week, and booked in a date at a fashionable bar in the beautiful neighbouring town of Marlow.
I can still remember the first time I spotted him, as he wove between the cars on the High Street, trying to spot me through the crowd. He was six foot three . The perfect height when you’re 5’11” in heels! He had rower’s shoulders, loose caramel curls, and was casually dressed in a burgundy sweater and dark coloured jeans.
His first words were ‘You look lovely’, and his smile was broad and genuine.
It was like someone had taken a cookie cutter, and formed my ideal man. Without me even realising what the ingredients should be.
That evening we chatted for hours. Before I knew it, the bar was shutting and we were being asked to pay our tab.
Normally on a date, I do a fair bit of talking. In fact, I’ve been on dates in the past where my date has had nothing to say. But that night, we talked in equal measure. He told me about his family, his degree, his life in London after university, his Masters, and his friends. We talked about everything and anything, with conversation flowing so easily that sometimes I lost track of what we had begun speaking about.
At the end of the date, he walked me back to my car, and apologised for not trying to kiss me, because he had been ill all week.
Within twenty minutes of leaving his side, he had texted me. Telling me how much fun he had had. How I’d been more attractive in person than he had expected. And how he was looking forward to seeing me again.
The next day at work, I was like a Cheshire Cat! I couldn’t stop smiling. The cynic in me had been proved wrong. ‘Normal’ (hot!) guys did internet date. And a normal ‘hot’ guy could be as excited about meeting me, as I was excited to meet him.
Henley Boy and I scheduled in a second date, and then spent the next week getting to know one another further. He began phoning me before bed, and we would chat for hours, about everything and nothing. It was like being sixteen again!
Every day, I would wake with a broader and broader grin, excited to see what the day would bring.
Two weeks from when we first began chatting, Henley Boy scheduled a last-minute second date. We had already planned a picnic in Henley for the following Saturday afternoon, but during a call on Wednesday night, HB asked if we could meet for dinner the next night. He asked if he could come and meet me at my flat, and after two weeks getting to know one another, I felt safe enough to agree for him to join me in my home.
Date Number 2 was completely different to Date Number 1, but equally good. The first date nerves had evaporated a little, and after a week of daily calls and texts, it felt comfortable. Exciting comfortable.
We ate, we chatted, we watched a movie, we kissed. All was good … really good.
Maybe I jumped the gun, but I asked if he’d like to stay over, and that night we kissed and cuddled and spooned. I didn’t break any ‘third date’ rules (this was Date Number 2) … but things were good. Really good!
And when I fell asleep in his arms, the romantic in me realised how comfortably we seemed to fit together.
The next morning, Henley Boy cuddled me for half an hour as he ignored his alarm clock. Finally, once he was out of bed, he returned to kiss and cuddle me through the duvet, and by the time I got up for work myself (two hours later), I had two texts from him on my phone.
I didn’t realise my smile could get much broader, but I was practically bouncing at work that day. Maybe this was actually it! Maybe I, the internet dating cynic, was ironically fated to find ‘My One’ online!
A guy who made me realise exactly what I needed in someone else, and what I didn’t. He wasn’t ‘perfect’, and yet the imperfections were things I realised I had no qualms about. He was doing his Masters, and not earning much. He was living back at his mother’s, in a room with floral wall paper, and 80s bedding! He was younger than me. But none of that really mattered, because he made me smile from ear to ear! And he seemed to be just as excited by me as I was of him.
He was my perfect date!
And then, after work that same night, he cancelled Date Number Three.
He said he had too much work on with his Masters, and was suddenly panicking. I was a bit gutted – I’d been looking forward to the picnic, and the weather forecast for the weekend was looking good, but I tried to be upbeat about it, and offered to meet later on if he got enough work done.
He texted the next day to say he was shattered and going to bed, but sorry about the cancelled date.
And I never heard from him again!
So there you have it … the sad and sorry tale of Henley Boy. My perfect date. My perfect, heart-breaking date.
I know it was 2 dates. I know it was 3 weeks. But in those three weeks … I dropped my guard. A guard which had been up for a very long time. I dropped my guard, only to get crushed when I least expected.
And so, frankly the last thing I want to do right now is go on a date! Because I’ve had my perfect date. I had three weeks of reading and re-reading every message. Memorising every snippet of information about a guy, and worrying that I was creating the best impression of myself. I let myself get excited. I let myself imagine things in the future. Future dates. Him meeting my friends, and my family.
And then, before it even started it fell flat.
But … as my best friends were quick to remind me, these are my last few months of my twenties. I should be making the most of them. Not spending them worrying about what I’ve done wrong.
In the weeks that followed my second ‘perfect date’, I ran through every scenario. Every thing I could have done wrong. Every possible explanation …
I’ll never know why my perfect date was so imperfect.
But what I do know, is that Perfect Date is not going to be my last! If you fall off a horse, the best thing that you can do is get back on, as quickly as possible.
And so this week, I get back on the dating horse! (for want of a far more appropriate euphemism!!) And I will do so in style. In the next three months, I plan to go on 30 Blind Dates. I know they won’t be perfect. I won’t have worried about them for days, or read and re-read every text message.
Thirty Blind Dates. Recommended by friends, or arranged over internet dating by dropping a few of my strict requirements, and throwing caution to the wind.
Thirty Blind Dates. Thirty Men. Thirty stories!
The only requirements …. that I’ve never met them before, they are single, and they are between the ages of 25-35.
After my ‘Perfect Date’, what could possibly go wrong?!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx