“I have five test subjects this week!” I cackled over a pint of frozen margarita like a crazed doctor.
Firstly, “dates” didn’t sound as fun, but secondly, I was testing them. And I’m sure to some people who love to cling to the notion of finding love in the supermarket that it sounds in-part calculated.
But in modern dating, if you’re not playing, you’re getting played. And if you’re not vetting men for the qualities that are important to you, then you might as well be picking a husband from a darkroom.
The first test was simple: pick the date spot.
It’s actually a much easier test to pass than some would think and doesn’t require expensive cocktails up the shard, followed by a champagne rimming. It does, however, require the candidate (we’ll refer to him as that, as its him who is auditioning for the place of your boyfriend - although just as much as you are his) to choose somewhere other than, say, G-A-Y.
"The first test was simple: pick the date spot"
As much as I love slurping £1.70 drinks and bumping into men I shagged six years ago while day-drunks stumble over a Girls Aloud megamix, it’s not exactly romantic. But more so, it’s not original either.
The same goes for Nando’s. If a man suggests going to Nando’s for your first date (that’s the one where he should at least be attempting to make a good impression), and you go for it… then you better not be surprised when your wedding reception is at KFC. And that marriage is gonna last as long as a boneless bucket around an emotional eater in an unhappy relationship.
I remember once I took a guy for drinks on a kitsch boat lit up with fairy lights. When we got inside, there were four football fans watching a match on the projector, and we both admitted it was relatively awful, and rapidly left after downing our drinks. Afterwards he suggested we go to… Nando’s. My idea may not have worked out, but at least I’d tried.
But I always use a common gay bar as an example of where to avoid in order to give them an idea of what is/isn’t suitable, so when my most recent date chose a common gay bar (in a different part of town) I was disheartened.
It might sound over-the-top or high maintenance, but all that’s being ‘tested’ is their effort, and - more importantly - their thoughtfulness. A guy who chooses a cute little Greek restaurant ‘cause he knows the food is good, or who suggests a drink on a barge ‘cause he’s read good reviews, is already ten places ahead of those other basic boars/bores.
We all know that dating is expensive, but if a man is rich in creativity he doesn’t need to break the bank.
When I suggested we go somewhere a little less ‘scene’, he reacted like I was being precious. The only thing precious was my time that I didn’t want to spend sitting in a bar I was having frozen margaritas in just two days before.
When we decided on a restaurant, I got a “are you gonna book it then?” text that probably took as long to send as it did to go online and select a time-slot. By the time the date itself came around, I felt like I’d done all the work for someone that would’ve been happier on his sofa.
"We all know that dating is expensive, but if a man is rich in creativity he doesn’t need to break the bank."
Our parents loved to tell us that it was the thought that counts, while we scoffed at yet another Lynx Africa set from an estranged aunty who always did birthdays on a shoestring budget.
But as we get older, and grow to appreciate the smaller things in life, in dating, we realise that the real gift is thoughtfulness itself.
While we should take every first date with a pinch of salt, (some men will have to meet you to realise you’re worthy of a bit more effort), there’s no denying that a little thought, makes a big impact.