Tonight I’ll be heading out in Madrid on Date 15 … the halfway mark of this challenge.
And to be honest I think I’ve been pretty lucky so far! The average date score for the last fourteen dates has been a pretty decent 7.5/10.
In The Bad Date Experiment, I discussed some of the possible reasons why my dates have been so good so far, whilst at the same time setting myself up for some potentially less well-suited dates in the next fifteen! I’ve spoken a lot on the blog about the factors which can make a good date, but not really investigated bad dates too much (mainly because so few of the fourteen have been bad).
After fifteen years of dating, I definitely can’t remember every date I’ve been on, but the ones I do remember best have tended to be the bad ones!
The last time I dated regularly was about ten years ago. I was on my Gap Year, and working as a lifeguard at a leisure centre to save up money to go travelling. Our shift would go out drinking in town most evenings after work, and I met more guys over that time than I ever have at any other point in my life. Whilst I probably wasn’t going on dates anywhere near as frequently as I am this summer, I would go on a first date at least once a week, and it became something of a tradition for me to give the boys at work a full (normally tragic) run-down of the date the following day.
That summer I went on more ‘bad dates’ than I have ever been on since! Probably because as a result of my experiences I learned a number of lessons about where NOT to meet men, and what does and doesn’t worked for me, and then never repeated the mistakes I made at 19!
Of the twenty or so dates I went on during my Gap Year, the vast majority were pretty appalling, but I’ll tell you about the ‘highlights’.
First there was the one where the guy removed a calculator from his pocket at the end of dinner, before proceeding to calculate exactly how much I owed. Don’t get me wrong, I have no objections to splitting the bill, but carrying a full-size calculator around with you? Really?? (even Nokia phones must have had calculators on them in those days, together with their only other ‘advanced’ feature – Snake!)
Then there was the blind date who asked me out over AOL chat (remember when that actually existed??). He had seen on my AOL profile that I worked at a leisure centre in Reading, and without realising who I was or which centre I worked at (the profiles were just names, with no pictures), told me he really fancied a girl who I might work with. Only for me to realise during the course of the online chat that he was actually talking about me. We arranged to meet in a busy local bar. And therein lay the problem. The bar was really quite loud. And my date wasn’t, in the slightest. I literally didn’t hear anything he said first time throughout the entire date. After maybe an hour and a half of asking ‘pardon?’ ‘sorry, what?’ every time he spoke, I gave up on the date, and had a friend ring me with an ’emergency’.
I once went on a date with a man 9 years older than me. I had been skiing regularly at a local dry ski slope, and he was instructing snowboarding most days on the next slope. After catching each others’ eye a few times, one afternoon after I’d packed up, he followed me to my car and asked me on a date. A few nights later, we sat in a student bar (a strange choice for a 28 year-old looking back), and as we began chatting about our lives, conversation fell into an awkward pattern. As a nineteen year-old, I had done comparatively little. I had travelled a little on my own, but nowhere near as much as I have in the past ten years. However every time I told the snowboard instructor a story, he would reply with ‘Wow, that’s so interesting, wow … I’ve never done anything like that.’ Whilst that’s obviously a reasonable enough comment, and clearly not everyone has identical life experiences to their partner, our entire conversation descended into a man almost ten years older than me telling me how exciting I was, and just how boring he was! By the end of the evening I was almost willing him to make something up! He may have been older than me, but he clearly hadn’t grasped the element of dating which involves marketing yourself properly!
Twice in my life, I’ve picked up guys on airline flights. (I realise that’s such a male phrase to use, but I guess this challenge sees me acting more like a boy with regards to dating than I ever have before!)
The first time was enroute to Borneo. I had completed a 45 mile charity hike the day before my flight, and could barely walk when I got to the airport. Out of sympathy I was assigned a seat by the emergency exits, with extra leg-room. The only other person in the aisle with me was an extremely hot, extremely tall Australian guy, who had been given his seat out of physical necessity.
On the twelve hour flight to Kuala Lumpur we chatted for perhaps five hours, and then spent the majority of the rest of the flight snogging! Not necessarily my most dignified moment (we got told off by an air stewardess for snogging so much!) but I was pretty impressed to pull a hot guy when I could barely walk, and was wearing baggy sweatpants, no make-up and a threadbare t-shirt!
The other time I met a guy on a flight, was on my way to Vancouver when I first moved to Canada. A British guy started chatting to me as we boarded the flight. Midway through the flight, he left his seat in First Class and came to find me in Economy. He sat down next to me and spent the rest of the flight chatting to me, only to ask me on a date the next day in Vancouver as we came into land. He chose a popular sports bar, where all the waitresses are (literally!) models, and then when we went to order lunch, stole the menu out of my hand and insisted on ordering everything for me, without even asking what I liked to eat. Not a move I would suggest anyone pulls on a date, unless you know the other person really well and know they’ll appreciate the gesture! I also wouldn’t ever suggest taking a date to a restaurant where the staff are paid to be more attractive than you. It just makes for a really awkward date, especially when they make painful comments like ‘Gosh you’re so lucky to be here with this lady, she’s beautiful!’ which apparently was a part of the waitresses’s cringey customer service.
As I look back at my most memorable bad dates (ok so the first plane story wasn’t really a bad date, more just me bragging about pulling on an inter-continental flight! Still one of my most random and cool ‘dating’ stories!), there is one common theme.
All of the bad dates were bad because something happened which made me feel awkward.
I don’t mind splitting a bill, but having someone demonstratively produce a calculator to work it out, is awkward. Having to say ‘Pardon?’ after every sentence someone says is really awkward! Having someone tell you how awesome you are, and how comparatively boring they are is awkward! And going to a bar full of models, and having someone remove the menu from your hands, and order for you like you’re a small child (and when they’ve never even eaten in that restaurant before) is hugely awkward!
Recently, in Dating Out of Your Depth, I talked about Danny, who had written a blog post about his Seven Fears of Dating. It was clear that one of the reasons he doesn’t date at all is because dates make him feel awkward.
And by the same token, whilst I’m normally quite confident and sociable, and will happily chat to almost anyone for a few hours, the minute a date turns bad for me, is when I’m made to feel awkward.
It was what made my date with Mr Twenty40 so bad, as I sat on the Tube, listening to him rudely describe people around us at the top of his voice! And the way I felt when the Burlesque Dancer asked me if I owned any nipple tassels or a merkin!
I think awkwardness is one of the reasons I’m so openly picky when it comes to guys. I don’t want to feel awkward on a date. So I would never actively date someone who was shorter than me (or shorter than me if I’m wearing high heels), or someone who weighs less than me. I don’t particularly want to feel like a giant on a date, or fat! I don’t tend to date guys who haven’t been to university, because they guys I have dated who didn’t go to University have dwelled on the fact I studied at Cambridge, and ended up making me feel awkward because of my background.
But there are no such parameters on this Challenge. I’ve agreed only to date single men between the ages of 25 and 35, and now I’ve dropped the requirement that those men have to be recommended by my friends, I have a feeling the ‘awkward’ moments will increase …
Speaking of which, I have a slight confession! Tonight’s date is not quite blind. I’m out in Madrid visiting Signor28, an old uni friend. We went out last night in Madrid, and ended up at a street festival which Date 15 was also at, so I ended up inadvertently meeting him ahead of tonight. Turns out Signor28 has forgotten how to measure in feet and inches since he moved to Spain … Date 15 is definitely shorter than me … and to make matters worse, last night I went out wearing high heels! I’m also pretty sure he was off his face on more than alcohol last night, so not exactly the best first date experience ….
I guess we’ll find out if I’ll be adding another Bad Date experience to the archive tonight!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx