Apologies for the delay posting this one – have been waiting for The Voice to send me his version of events, however he’s just messaged to say it won’t be for a few more days, so will have to post it at a later stage ….
Regular readers of the blog will know that just over a month ago, I was asked by the Christian blogsite ‘Threads’ to write an article explaining why I wouldn’t normally date a Christian.
It was the brainchild of ‘The Editor’ – a friend who works in media for an influential Christian organisation. She had been following my blog from its infancy, and had picked up on my early suggestion that perhaps I ought to use the Challenge to go on dates with guys who I wouldn’t normally consider dating. I have always been quite honest that I’m picky when it comes to dating, and have acknowledged that this is one of the reasons I’m still single in the final few months of my twenties. And so going on dates with guys who I wouldn’t normally date seemed like an interesting experiment, as well as perhaps an opportunity for some of my closest friends to show me that some of my pre-conceptions about, and requirements for, guys were unfounded and unnecessary.
And so I wrote a piece for Threads, explaining my main motives for previously avoiding religious guys. My reasons are relatively simple. For a start, religious beliefs are pretty fundamental to a person! As you move into adulthood, if you still attend a church, and read religious newspapers and online media, the chances are that religion is a defining part of who you are. So why would I, as someone for whom religion is of no importance, ever consider looking for a life-partner who holds such different beliefs about where we have come from, and where we will eventually end up? It’s one thing to be friends with someone with such different beliefs, but quite another to think about stuff like raising a family with him.
Add to that, the fact that I believe pre-marital cohabitation and sex are both really important things to test with someone you plan to spend the rest of your life with, and again, dating someone devoutly religious seems like a bit of a non-starter!
That’s not to say I don’t have friends who are religious – in fact a number of my very close friends are devoutly Christian or Muslim. It’s just that when it comes to the idea of marrying someone, and bringing children up with them, I think it’s important to have a pretty similar belief system. And so the older I’ve got, the more fixed I’ve become in my decision not to date someone for whom religion is important.
I’m not unique in these ideas. In fact the blogger ‘Boy About Town’ actually wrote a blog post laying out all the reasons why he would never go on a date with me – and interestingly almost all of his reasons mirrored my own reasons for not normally considering dating ‘a Christian’.
The other reason The Editor wanted me to go on a date with a Christian, is because she hoped to dispel the stereotypical ideas that single Christian men approaching 30 are rather dull!
It’s an interesting experiment, because from the comments which my original blog post elicited on Threads, by the sounds of things a LOT of Christian girls think single Christian men are rather boring! And there was actually a bit of uproar that I might be swooping in and stealing some of their most eligible options with my challenge. Something I found hilarious, as the sentiment didn’t exactly seem overly Christian!
The ‘boring’ Christian stereotype is something I’ve never really thought too much about, as my friends who are devoutly Christian are my friends first, and religious second. It’s another side to them, and I didn’t make friends with them because of their religion or lack of, I made friends with them because they’re fun and interesting and we get on well. And so whilst there may be a lot of boring Christian men out there, I’ve never really been exposed to them, as I tend to avoid boring men full stop, regardless of their religion!
However, if you were to think up your standard ‘boring’ stereotype …. perhaps the IT geek I’ve described as frequenting many of the singles events I’ve trialled over the past three months …. then arguably a lot of the guys putting themselves forward for a date on the blog, were rather stereotypically odd and dull! (Or at least made themselves sound that way in the few short paragraph descriptor emails I happened to see before The Editor selected my date.)
My Date Number 20 – The Best Man – was actually a very devout, involved Christian (who doesn’t believe in sex before marriage). We ‘met’ over Twitter early on in my challenge, and I agreed to a date because he had followed the blog right from the start and seemed like an interesting one-off date, even though I was fully aware of his religious persuasion, and the fact the date was unlikely to lead anywhere (not just because he was about to emigrate to Canada!). However there was a lot more to The Best Man than his religion. He was bright, funny, well-travelled and sporty, and the kind of guy who would fit well with my friends – something which was made evident by the fact I discovered just before the date that he had been the Best Man at a mutual friend’s wedding!
So whilst I knew that nothing was likely to come of my date with ‘The Christian’, I was confident that The Editor would select a good ambassador for Threads, and someone who I would at least be friends with, even if our vastly different religious beliefs meant that a relationship would be out of the question.
And so it was interesting (having seen a few of the more stereotypical single Christian applicants putting themselves forward on Threads) to discover when I finally met ‘The Voice’ that he had never even heard of the Threads blog! It emerged that the Editor had met him a few weeks before at the ‘Christian Times Annual Cricket Match’, and decided that he would be the most interesting representative of a Christian date, for my challenge! So the first five minutes of our date were spent laughing about the fact he was a bit of an imposter, and that if the Christian Date search was some form of ‘competition’, then he appeared to have won without even entering!
On account of this I did toy with calling him ‘The Imposter’, however given his role representing single Christians, and the fact that his job role is quite high up in Christian media, helping to share the ‘Voice of the Church’ in the press I decided ‘The Voice’ was a more prolific title. (And a bit more grand than simply ‘The Christian’ as had been originally suggested when I first began this challenge!)
Also, as The Voice has worked as a journalist for a number of years, there is also another unique angle to Date Twenty-Eight, as I asked him if he would like to blog about the date at the same time. It’s an angle I had wanted to add to the blog for some time, and when I learned that The Voice had also trained as a journalist, it seemed to provide the perfect opportunity.
And so I have promised to post his blog post on 30 Dates by 30, and not edit it at all! So you guys will also get a different perspective to this date than you normally do!
Interestingly, the extra angle definitely made me treat the date differently – which I think taught me an interesting lesson. Knowing ‘The Voice’ was going to write about me, I was definitely on my best behaviour. That’s not to say I don’t normally make an effort on dates (ok, so I did rock up to both Date Three with The Burlesque Dancer, and Date Six with The School Crush with wet hair!!!), and I will always try to be polite and engaging, and interested in what my dates are saying, however I know that normally if I realise I don’t fancy my date, I might relax a little more on the date – perhaps not try so hard to sparkle in conversations, or not reapply my make-up when I pop to the loo. Also, because of the number of guys texting me at the moment because of the Challenge (which I will talk about in more detail in a later post!!), I tend to be a bit less attentive and more laissez-faire with guys in the run up to the date. However, knowing The Voice would be turning the tables, I tried to put my best ‘game face’ on throughout the date, and give him the best impression of what a date with Miss Twenty-Nine is really like. Because, to be honest, it’s the side of me that the 9/10 and 10/10 dates would have seen anyway.
And that obviously has made me aware of the fact that my dates have probably been on their best behaviour for a reason! Ok, so some of them have still had some choice things to say, even when they’ve known about the blog – The Burlesque Dancer, Mr Twenty40 and The Big Kid – but for the most part, the guys have all been lovely and charming. Is that because they knew I would be writing up the date afterwards? Probably in part! But then that didn’t stop both the Exhibitionist and the Oxford Blue freely telling me that they were seeing other girls!
Looking back, if I were to choose one of the twenty-eight dates so far to agree to have written up by another blogger, it definitely wouldn’t have been Twenty-Eight!
For a start, I was absolutely shattered! We’d had a staff night out after work on Thursday, and I had gone into work extra early the next day, off very little sleep, in order to hand over everything before I left for the States. I’d then rushed into London straight afterwards to meet the Superhero Alter-Ego, only to stay out with him until close to three in the morning on Friday night.
I stayed over at a friend’s house in Old Street, and chatted with her into the early hours of the morning about all my recent dating developments, and when my alarm rang just a few hours later, the last thing I wanted to be doing was going on another date!
I grudgingly got out of bed, and half-heartedly got ready for the date. When The Voice had first called me to arrange our Saturday morning date, he’d suggested a Yoga Class followed by Brunch. He’d read enough of the blog to catch on that the biggest hardship of this challenge has been missing out on my normal exercise routine, and so had suggested a ‘rejuvenating’ date to finish the English leg of the 30 Dates Challenge.
However it turned out The Voice hadn’t realised the yoga I talk about regularly practicing is hot Bikram Yoga – something he doesn’t enjoy – and then when I told him I’d be happy to try a different type of yoga, he refused, saying he felt too broken from his busy week at work.
And so we resorted simply to brunch, which I have to admit was a bit of a let-down.
The really cool aspect of this Challenge has been the incredible array of dates I’ve been on. And I fully acknowledge that the majority have not been your normal first date scenarios! I’ve dined in the dark, climbed the roof of the O2, had picnics, made sushi and visited a detective agency!
Yes, I know, that means I’m probably going to feel let down by most of the first dates I go on after this Challenge!! Not just because the guys might not be trying so hard to make an effort, but also because the date scenarios are likely to be a little more orthodox! But the reality of this challenge is that I’ve already had two other brunch dates – and one of those was before a trip to London Zoo, and the other was followed by international Sitting Volleyball at National Paralympic Day! So it’s a bit hard to not be slightly non-plussed by brunch on its own, especially when I only have three Challenge Dates remaining (and then obviously have to return to real world first dates!!!).
And so rather tired, and grumpy, and running a bit late because I hadn’t realised quite how far the Albion in Shoreditch was from where I was staying, I appeared at the restaurant for Saturday brunch.
The Voice had already arrived, and was waiting at a table at the back of the dining room. On my way to meet him I managed to knock the condiments from not one, but two of the tables, including our own, starting the date with a literal bang!
As I settled in my seat, I realised how ill-prepared I was for the date. Not only was he writing about me, but he was also an extremely eloquent man who writes for a living, and tired slightly-hungover me was scrabbling for words!
We discussed the Challenge, and Threads (which involved me telling him what it is!) and ordered brunch – coffee and eggs and bacon with toast for him, poached eggs, smoked salmon and fresh orange juice for me. As we tucked into our food, The Voice asked me whether I wanted to ‘discuss Jesus’ – suggesting that The Editor had hoped we would discuss religion on the date.
I didn’t particularly want to debate why I’m an Atheist, or why he believes in God, as it’s not exactly your normal brunch conversation, and so instead we talked about religion and dating. About the fact he is clearly a very devout, involved Christian, and yet does believe in sex before marriage.
Interestingly, as we chatted about the site OKCupid, which I am yet to trial for the blog, The Voice explained how the site offers you the chance to respond to important questions on your profile. If another person has answered the same key question as you, you are able to see their response to that question. The Voice seemed genuinely surprised by how few non-religious girls are prepared to meet for a date with someone to whom religion and prayer is important.
However I explained my stance on it – detailed at the start of this post – and actually compared it to football. For me, it wasn’t just about religion. I don’t particularly like football, and so would be put off dating someone for whom football was a massive part of their everyday life, because our views on that large part of his life would be so different. In the same way I can’t see myself dating someone who has a season ticket, and goes to watch football matches twice a week, I can’t see myself dating someone who is devoutly religious and goes to church regularly. Perhaps that over-trivialised the issue – but for me the dating preferences come from the same place. Its not about religion as such. It’s about finding common ground – whether that’s religion, sport, travel, education, food, or a sense of humour. Or all of the above.
Finding a partner involves at least some shared interests and beliefs and shared experiences. Or a desire to share experiences. Yes, sometimes complete polar opposites do attract, however in my personal experience, I’ve always got on far better with guys who at least have some fundaments in common with me.
The Voice was a nice, normal guy. I would in no way describe him as dull or boring, and he had a lot to say for himself, and was a charming, interesting guy, but he definitely wasn’t someone I would normally date, and not simply because of the importance of religion in his life. (Though it was very interesting how much this coloured his conversation. Religion had fuelled most of his travel decisions, his job role is deeply linked to the Christian Church, and he even described his age – 33 – as the ‘Jesus year’!)
The Voice was really quite spiritual – not simply in a religious way, but in a very zen, meditative way, and in that respect is not the type of guy I would normally date. I guess I’m more of a ‘watch your boyfriend tackle other guys on a rugby pitch’ kind of girl than someone who would go to a yoga retreat and meditate with her other half.
And so, I had an interesting date. But no, I wouldn’t date The Voice again. Not because of his religion. But because he simply wasn’t the type of guy who I’m normally attracted to. Though that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t stay in touch as a friend…
I wore – black trousers, a navy vest top, and a navy and cream lace sailor’s top
He wore – a t-shirt and jeans
We met – inside The Albion, in Shoreditch.
We drank – coffee and orange juice
We talked about – writing, our jobs, the Challenge, The Search for a Christian, Threads, OKCupid, New York
The date lasted – 2 and a half hours (one of my shortest dates of this Challenge)
The date ended – After brunch, because he had plans that afternoon.
Marks out of ten – Sorry, but it’s a 6/10. He was a really lovely guy, but Saturday morning is not a great time for a date! And I had been really excited about the idea of a yoga date followed by brunch, so just doing brunch was a bit of a let-down. The brunch itself wasn’t as good as the Eggs Benedict I enjoyed at the Counter Cafe with The Stallion – I got way too much smoked salmon, and only one small slice of toast to go with my poached eggs.
I neither converted a Christian, nor was converted by him! But I did meet an interesting guy who I imagine I will stay in contact with, so not a complete disaster!
Next Date – early next week in the dating blogger’s Mecca …. New York, New York!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx