As The Coincidental Dater explained the other day, the world of dating is very different to normal life.
If you meet a partner in real life – a colleague, a friend, or a friend of a friend, you may have known that person for some time before getting together. Whilst there may have been no initial spark, time, and situation can grow into something else.
Dating doesn’t really allow for those encounters. Because dating relies on first impressions.
If you’re dating online, you choose the snippets of your life which you think make you most marketable, and use them to try to secure a date with the type of man or woman you’d like to meet. The photos you choose, the messages you send, completely determine whether someone clicks on your profile, sends you a message, replies, and meets up with you or not.
In the same way, on a first date, you present yourself in a certain way. If you’re attracted to your date, you try to showcase the things about you, and the anecdotes of your life, which you think will most attract the other person.
Now, I know not everyone agrees, but I am a firm believer in the spark.
I can get on with pretty well with most people. But dating shouldn’t just be about getting on ‘pretty well’ with a person. I go on dates because I want to meet someone I fancy. And when it comes to fancying someone, for me it starts with physical attraction. If they overcome that first hurdle (not just on Tinder, but then, more difficulty in real life), then I need a personality spark to want to see the person again.
I can chat to anyone for two or three hours and have (as Coincidental described) a ‘pleasant’ evening. But then I can also have a pleasant evening at the gym, or watching TV! The sign that I actually fancy a guy is that I don’t want the evening to end. A conversation which flows so well, that I can’t even remember all the topics we’ve dipped into. Where one of you starts talking about something, and that naturally triggers a link or a tale from the other person.
For me, a good date is one where I come away excitedly waiting to hear from the guy. Or where I break ‘The Rules’ and text back first, depending how confident I think my date is. And in ‘real life’, those are the only second dates I want to go on. I’m old enough to know that really good first dates DO exist, so I don’t see the point in wasting my time, and my date’s time, by agreeing to go on a second date if the first date was only mediocre.
Because of this blog, and the fact I’ve had pre-arranged dates where I’ve at times simply needed to find a guy to attend with me, I have, however, been on second dates which I wouldn’t have normally gone on. Turning one perfectly pleasant date into two, or three.
And interestingly, they never worked out. No spark suddenly appeared during the later dates. Because going on a couple of dates with someone and hoping you might develop an attraction, is not the same as knowing someone over several months and growing to know more about each other.
When you’re friends or colleagues with someone, you don’t act in self-marketting mode. Instead of showcasing all your best features and best anecdotes, you function in a practical, real-world way. You’re not in date mode. You’re unlikely to concentrated amounts of one-on-one time together.
And so it’s not unheard of that something can develop over time, as you gradually realise the connections and similarities you have with that person.
But dating doesn’t allow you that time. And realistically, you are spending a concentrated one-on-one period of time with someone, who is trying to show you all of his best bits. So if you don’t respond to that …. in my opinion, there’s your answer.
I think my relationship with The One with The Sign is a good example of this. As a number of you have pointed out, he’s an attractive guy. And I had a really fun date with him, back when he was Date Number Two of my thirty dates. I had a really fun date, but there was no major spark. I didn’t sit by my phone waiting to hear from him. At the time, if he’d asked me out on a second date, I probably wouldn’t have said no, because he was a nice enough guy and I’d had a fun time, but deep down I knew I didn’t fancy him. Because of the Challenge, and the 28 dates I needed to go on after meeting him, we never went on a second date. However over the past six months, we’ve seen each other a fair amount, as a result of that blog, and I would happily call him a friend. But I don’t fancy him. And I know if we’d gone on two or three more dates, I wouldn’t have fancied him then either.
Deep down, I know within an hour or so of a first date whether there is a spark or not. And I’m confident my spark-o-meter is pretty well set for me.
However …. I am not a rude person. In fact, I like to think I’m quite a pleasant, polite, and sociable person. And when put in a date situation, I will try my best to make the evening fun and entertaining for my date. Even on dates where I’ve found myself paired up with people I wouldn’t ever have even spoken to in normal life, I have tried my best, made jokes, found common ground, and made conversation. I’ve never run out early on a blog date, or cut it short.
As a result of this … I’ve realise I don’t really give out the most readable signals! (Something one of Southern Belle’s most recent tweets suggests she’s bad at too!)
While Mr SC actually told me after our epic 9 and a half hour first date that he wasn’t sure whether I liked him or not, I often come away from dates which I think haven’t gone at all well, to then be asked out on a second date. Last week had two classic examples of this. Bear Grylls – to whom I knew I’d been really overly polite. And The Online Sleuth – who I hadn’t even particularly tried with, and who I’d actually thought I’d been quite clearly disinterested in. (Partly because he was a clearly very well-paid investment banker who knew I’d paid over £100 for our tickets to the event, and then acted really weirdly when I expected him to pay for two drinks!)
Both men asked me on second dates (The Online Sleuth in a rather cringy manner where he commented on how ambiguously equivocal my post about him was :S). In their defence, both men had asked me about second dates at the end of the first dates, and I’d kind of awkwardly dodged / politely made noises, far too awkward to say No in person, and hoping they’d either forget, or at least I could turn them down over text.
However realistically, turning someone down over text message can be pretty awkward too – even when you can’t see the person you’re turning down’s reaction.
The one thing I will say – having turned down second dates, and having been turned down (in rather dishonest ways!), is to simply be honest.
If you don’t want to see someone again, be honest. You don’t have to be brutal. But don’t lie, and make up excuses, because people won’t always realise it’s an excuse. If you dodge the issue and say you’re busy for the next couple of weeks, you may just end up delaying another conversation in two weeks time.
We’re all adults. And the world of dating is full of rejection. Whether it’s as simple as someone not replying to your message online, someone standing you up, or someone dumping you six months down the line. And whilst I don’t think you owe every single random person who sends you a speculative message online a response telling him or her that you’re not interested, if you’ve been on a first date with someone, then you owe them an honest reply if they ask you on a second date.
Don’t lie. Don’t make excuses. And don’t agree to a second date or third date, only to sack it off with a rubbish excuse, or never speak to the person ever again! (ala The Henley Boy!)
You should never see someone again simply out of sympathy. Be the bigger person, and send a quick honest response. Or, if you have more balls than I clearly do, when they ask you out at the end of the date, tell them you had a lovely time, but that you don’t see it going anywhere!
The Dating world is tough enough – don’t make it any more complicated!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx