Manners are something I’ve always found important. I was brought up to be terribly British – apologising for things which weren’t my fault, queuing up behind people who pushed in front of me – I’m sure you all know the drill! My parents taught me to always be polite.
Likewise, manners are something I find attractive in men. I like the quaint antiquity of a man pulling out my chair at dinner, holding the door open for me, and walking on the road-side of the pavement. My ideal man has a bumbling Hugh Grant-like exterior, with a cheeky confident side underneath. The quintessential British gent, with a hidden edge and some street smarts.
When it comes to dating, manners can make or break a date. I read a survey a while back, where the overwhelming majority of singletons said the worst thing someone could do on a date is be rude to the waiter or waitress. Recently when I interviewed Gina Yashere for Guardian Soulmates, she underlined that you can always tell a lot from a person on a date, not just from how he treats you, but from how he treats the staff.
Back when I was doing the original 30 Date challenge, I made a promise – to myself and to the blog readers. I would never cut a date short, unless I had a really good reason. After all, all the guys knew about the blog, and had volunteered themselves up as blind dates. Just because I didn’t fancy them, I had no good reason to cut the date short. And to be honest, despite not fancying many of my dates, I had a great time on most of the 30 Dates, because you don’t have to fancy someone to connect with him, and have an enjoyable evening.
I also promised I would never be rude about a date in my write-up – unless he was rude to me, or other people on the date.
During the 30 Dates I was extremely lucky – the only date who was rude was Mr Twenty40 – a man who sat on the Tube with me, bitching drunkenly about the people sat around us. Even since the 30 Dates, the only date I can think of where I really wanted to make an escape was the Smeeters date with the vile Ringleader – a man who has since attempted to haunt the blog, by sending me various emails from fake accounts. Delightful.
Back when I was doing the 30 Dates before my thirtieth birthday I used to tell you guys how long the date lasted. Most of the time, the longer the date, the better the indicator of how well it’s going, however there have been a few exceptions. I obviously depends on what time you meet in the first place, and what you’re doing on the date itself. However, it’s human nature that if you’re enjoying something, you make it last as long as possible.
By contrast, if you’re not enjoying something, you want it to end as soon as possible.
Because of the blog, I haven’t always had that luxury, though luckily, I’ve very rarely found myself willing a date to end. But when you’re dating in the real world, when is a polite time to leave? Is it rude to acknowledge that there is no mutual chemistry, and abruptly end a date before it’s barely even started?
As someone who can normally fill at least an hour or two with harmless chit-chat with everyone, I’ve very rarely considered a polite time to leave, and whether a one drink date is socially unacceptable, however as some of the singles events I’ve attended recently have proven – the worst feeling is thinking you’re obligated to stay.
In my opinion, if someone is being nice enough, and they’re just a bit boring, you should stick out the date for at least an hour and a half. Two drinks. They’ve made the effort to meet you, don’t make them feel bad by making an obvious, hasty exit. The whole ‘my friend just called with an emergency’ situation is pretty insulting in this day and age. If you really want to leave quickly, then I would say honesty is the best policy. Be polite, thank them, and just say you don’t think there’s any chemistry – don’t string anyone along with excuses. However, if someone is rude, or aggressive, or makes you feel uncomfortable, then you shouldn’t have to endure the date. On the Smeeters date, I mentioned the way I stopped even looking at the Ringleader, because he was being so aggressive and offensive. In reality, if we’d been one-on0one, I would have upped and left before the date even got to that stage. However you can’t always go … and certain singles circumstances do make you feel obligated to stay far longer than you want to –
Take speed dating for example. The key is not to look around the room much. Because if you realise you don’t find anyone in the room attractive, you know you’re likely to endure an evening of zero chemistry before it even begins. Yes, I appreciate how superficial that sounds, but you can often tell with a couple of glances, whether you’re going to be attracted to someone (that’s the whole reason Tinder kicks things off with a photo ….) I have seen women walk out of speed dating midway through, and who could forget the woman I watched at my first blog speed dating event – who ripped her date card into shreds in front of everyone, when the 4 minute-long dates were finally over!
One of the things I like about singles parties, is that you can leave whenever you want. If you don’t like the vibe, or you’re not attracted to anyone there, you can just get up and go. No questions asked. It’s like being out in a bar or a club.
But what about the smaller, more intimate singles events?
Three-on-three dating seems to be all the rage. First there was Grouper, then there was Smeeters, and now the Inner Circle (which The Coincidental and I used to secure dates in Amsterdam), has started up ‘Circles’, a triple date between members of the Inner Circle.
The problem I found with this style of dating, is that the matching can be very hit and miss. Both Grouper and Smeeters had access to our Facebook accounts, and had been given descriptions of our ideal partners, however the match-up was still reliant on their male customers, which meant on all 3 of the occasions that I’ve trialled the 3-on-3 formula, it’s been painfully bad. All three times, within five minutes I knew I didn’t fancy the guys, and had little to nothing in common with any of them. And yet, because of the nature of the event and the set-up, even though you’ve only pre-paid your first set of drinks, it feels rude not staying for at least a second round.
All three times I’ve sat there, wanting to leave, but aware that we’ve all paid for the privilege of the match-up, adding a false dynamic to a situation you would normally get yourself out of as quickly as possibly, if you met the same men or women in a bar in the normal way, and simply didn’t click.
Grouper continues to flourish in London, and the 3-on-3 model has obviously proved popular enough for the Inner Circle to join the party, however I’m still unconvinced. At least with a blind date, you haven’t paid for the privilege, and if you’re brave enough and things are going really badly, you can just get up and leave. But as I realised on that particularly awful Smeeters match-up with the Ringleader and co, it’s a lot more difficult to get away when there are three of you (despite both parties clearly Whatsapping eachother under the table, sending messages about how badly the evening was going!), and you feel obliged to at least stay for a couple of hours, because the company has apparently set your evening up for me.
It’s bad enough walking out on one bad date. Let alone three.
So I think I’ll leave testing Circles out to some of the other writers, I don’t think my polite British upbringing can handle too many more awkward forced social encounters!
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx