Before Christmas I went on 14 dates in 13 days. I didn’t set out with a specific goal in mind, honestly. I do know online dating is a numbers game though. Surely it’s a mix of chance/fate/luck and deliberate investments of time/energy/headspace and then persevering through enough bad dates that you strike gold with a few good ones. Surely.
I went through phases of being interested in online dating this year, but mostly I was either focusing on my health, focusing on my studies at uni, or focusing on babes at uni. (More on that later.) (NOT!) (Look, sure, I pashed a babe once or twice but if it had worked out I wouldn’t be on these dates would I? We are now good friends and it’s fine I’M FINE. So cool your jets! Sheesh!) (Srsly I am fine, see below – now feeling very ace! There were a rocky few moments but now I’m ready to open up this old heart of mine again.)
I have to go back to uni on January 9th. Landing a man (Jeez, who am I? Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice?) by 9.1.18 wasn’t a realistic KPI for this project but I at least wanted to feel like I’d put a bit of effort into my love life this year. After finishing uni for the year in October and working in Canberra for all of November, the Melbourne summer sun was beckoning and I had the luxury of some unfilled days. I was also feeling physically and mentally pretty ace. As Jermaine would say – conditions were perfect.
I’m not sure why I’m justifying this to y’all. Perhaps I’m insecure about being perceived as either desperate or heartlessly pragmatic or more of a writer than a romantic- numbering dates and reporting to an audience about them. Surely it’s fine to know what you want and work hard to get it, right? Surely it’s ok to apply the same organisational principles to your love life as you do to your work or study, right? Surely by now y’all know by now that I’d much rather a good date than a good story, right? I want nothing more than to kill this blog off and be like “soz guys, been on 7 dates with one bloke and it’s going so well that I have no more shitty dating stories to share rn. In a year we’ll probably move in together and co-parent some pot plants kthxbye.”
Whatever, I did it anyway so I should just own that shit and be cool about it, right?
Right. Onwards. So here for your reading pleasure the next couple of posts will be some of the best/worst/blandest. I hope y’all had the merriest of Christmases and are getting some kind of break over this summer. I have spent today in my PJs alternating between reading on the couch and writing this to youse. #bliss. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed crafting something out of these moments for you.
1. Lunch with a Really Nice Guy.
We had a 96% match on OKCupid. During pre-date banter phase, he offered to send me a cup of chamomile tea in an Uber. It’s the most pragmatic/romantic offer I’ve ever received online.
We sat on stools with backs near a bar at the window at the Moroccan Deli-cacy, both facing outwards to the street, avoiding the awkward ‘avoiding eye-contact forced staring at each other across a table’ situation. I’m a massive advocate for both parties facing the same direction while conversing. Try it! To improve conversation with your younger brother, try watching telly together and talking in the ads! To improve conversations with teenagers you’re trying to mentor, try driving them somewhere and yarning in the car!
Back to the Deli, where our initially polite conversation deteriorates into a detailed account of his recent purchase of a washing machine. I begin to question the reasons people decide to tell certain stories in these circumstances – when you’re trying to impress or connect with someone who you might want to later pash or date or sleep with or enter a partnership with or eventually move in with and co-parent some pot plants with. This will become a recurring theme. More on monologues later.
The food is delicious. I spill it on myself. Three times. He doesn’t mention it. He seems like a Really Nice Guy. He won’t end up being my boyfriend but perhaps a RNG was exactly what I needed after a long time between online dating drinks.
He pays for lunch. I always offer to split bills but hey, I’m a student so I’m not gunna fight antiquated chivalry too hard. Even when I graduate I never have and never will earn as much as these blokes do. Gender pay gap aside, I’m a bloody teacher/artist, they’re a bloody dentist/Department of Immigration employee/IT contractor in the finance industry. Side note: if you’re that ashamed of working for a bank that you consistently refer to your place of work as ‘the finance industry’ and refuse to say the word ‘bank,’ maybe you shouldn’t be working for a bank? More on devastating career choices later.
We wander down the road to look at some indoor pot plants. It feels too soon, like the equivalent of watching ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’ or going to a pet shop. Neither of us buy anything. He texts me later, not to suggest another date but to say thanks, which I find very classy and reciprocate.
No pash. No second date.
2. A contemporary dance show with another Really Nice Guy (RNG)
Another OkCupid over 90% matcher, who I’d been in vaguely in touch with for a few months. Facebook friends (feel free to become one here!) will have got the scoop on this already, so skip ahead if you cbf re-living the magic. Ha.
I had a nice enough time watching and then discussing the show over a glass of champagne. I decided pretty early on that I didn’t want to take things further and began to dread the inevitable moment when next steps were discussed. Do you want to go for a walk? Which really means: do you want to spend more time with me now? Which really means: are you attracted to me? All of these were asked with the extension of a hand, an open palm, that after trying to laugh off I took in mine.
The whole time we walked along that somewhat romantic St Kilda Pier I was furious with myself. I didn’t want to be walking along that pier. I didn’t want to be holding that man’s hand. So why the hell was I? Was it that I didn’t want to be rude, or didn’t know how to be honest and respectful at the same time? I’d just spent a month working with teenage girls, talking about being strong independent women. What a hypocrite! I couldn’t even tell a polite man I didn’t want to hold his hand.
People often comment on the bravery of online dating. Of putting yourself out there, assuming the act of asking is the courageous part. When perhaps the bit that takes the most guts is looking someone in the eye when you’re asked the question and saying no. Knowing how to pick up on the signals your body is giving you, those gut feelings. Knowing how to listen to your instincts. Having the courage to be honest and real, but with kindness and grace, acknowledging that being vulnerable and strong is hard for both of us.
He texted afterwards to invite me to another show. I said I’d be glad of a show buddy but didn’t feel anything more towards him. I tried to push the chorus of ‘Nice Guys Finish Last‘ out of my head. Then wondered which dating apps the punks used. The hippies. The artists. The bushwalkers. The birdwatchers. The poets. Anyone but the Really Nice Guys.
No pash. No second date.
3. Afternoon drink with a Conversationalist
Another OKCupid high percentage match, who I’d bantered with a bit earlier in the year. He texts me 15 minutes early and I reply I’m running 5 mins late. I’m perpetually late so early people make me feel guilty. This doesn’t bode well, but when I arrive I can’t find him. Then he arrives with shopping bags in hand – excellent! Instead of sitting around fuming he amused himself! He gleefully shows me his purchases – we’re back on track.
That track runs smoothly and joyfully for a good hour and a half. I’m not sure if I was just excited that good banter with babes does still exist, or if I just have always found conversational competence an extremely attractive quality. But man alive did it feel good! I was asked questions about myself! My jokes were laughed at! His stories made me want to know more!
I have never had a bad first date at the Kent St bar on Smith Street in Fitzroy and this was no exception. The tunes there are consistently good, the decor is old in a good way and the bar staff remain friendly even when they twig that you’re obviously on a first date.
When farewelling him I said “Hey, I’d really like to see you again. Whaddayareckon?” A second date was mutually accepted as a good idea but no solid plans made.
No pash. Second date has yet to occur, despite my not very subtle prompting texts.
PS: The good thing about playing the numbers game, is you can never get too excited or depressed about any one date or person, because you’ve got plenty more lined up in the wings. Before I went to sleep the day I dated that Conversationalist, I went on two more dates, not with RNGS but with a Wild Card and an Orator. More on those tomorrow. Yep, tomorrow! – DD