Over the last four weeks I have realised there are certain requirements for Internet dating... A heart of stone and the sensitivity of an earthworm being two of them.
I have already talked about dates 1-3 which were utter disasters. Number 4, the property developer, turned out to have a lunchtime drinking problem and had managed to fall out with everyone in his family and most of his friends. Not a good sign. Number 5, the charity director, is ongoing.
What I've discovered though is no matter how much a man comes across as traditional, the rules of dating have significantly changed. You can spend hours on the Internet reading articles entitled... 'How to find a man and keep him' or '10 things NOT to do on a first date'. Some of the advice is fairly obvious but there are rules that apparently we must adhere to in order to have a successful date and therefore a good relationship.
Here are a few written by women...
Don't be late.
Don't talk about your ex boyfriend.
Don't text or answer your phone.
Don't allow your eyes to wander.
Don't eat like a bird.
Don't get drunk.
Don't let skeletons out of the cupboard.
DO NOT have sex.
And here's my favourite one...
Don't let crazy out of the box.
Haha... That a tough one for me. I have had so many strange things happen to me and have so many odd stories that its really difficult not to let one out. But there's a fine line between entertaining and loopy so I'm told.
But then I looked at men's advice for women on a first date. Quite a few are the same as the above but here were a few extras...
Don't date work colleagues.
Don't talk about yourself the whole time.
Don't talk about marriage and kids.
Don't dress inappropriately.
Don't pretend you're someone you're not.
Don't be too touchy feely.
Don't talk about controversial issues.
Don't expect a man to pay.
My god... So basically trying to remember all that stuff and still be natural is a nightmare. And to be honest, half of the above may apply to a small percentage but most of my friends did not meet their partners by sticking to any sort of rules. Many friends of mine met their partners while drunk; a few had sex on the first date and yes, 'my God!', they're still together. I have one friend that met her husband at work but hated him for the first six months arguing at every opportunity; in fact I know quite a few couples that met at work; one friend was at a dinner party and spoke to her now husband about her ex-boyfriend 'the arsehole' the whole time. It didn't put him off.
So no matter what you are told, what to say, how to behave, what to wear... it all really boils down to one thing, chemistry. You either click or you don't. There's a spark or there is nothing. I know pretty early on in the date... usually the first half an hour, if its working or not. And if you're comfortable with someone, then honestly I think all the do's and don't's go out of the window.
So with date number 5, we broke quite a few rules... We talked about religion, argued about politics, discussed previous relationships, told quite a few crazy stories and drank a bit too much. Ooh, bad bad rule breakers! But guess what... He didn't run a mile, he did call and we are going out.
The only massive hiccup in this otherwise lovely beginning is the bloody internet. It's always there in the background. If you've met someone on the Internet, there are a few things that you can't escape. Firstly, you have no idea how many other women your date is looking at, speaking to, emailing or seeing. There are no rules about being exclusive, about signing out of your online profile, about replying to messages. So you happily have date after date and then you realise they are still logging onto their dating site. Insecurity bubbles up and you think... Oh ok, there was me thinking we were getting along brilliantly and that it might go somewhere but here you are checking out other women. Are you seeing if there is something better on there or are you just enjoying the attention, having your ego massaged by women looking at your profile? Hmmm.
I have had quite a few (sorry girls) conversations over the last week about just this. What is he doing? Does this mean he's not interested? I've been tying myself in knots trying to figure it out.
And then the other evil of all evils... Texting. When did texting replace human contact to such an extent you spend half your time trying to work out how to interpret the message? You can't type irony or sarcasm or a teasing, playful voice. Some people use those smiley faces when they have written something sarcastic and put it at the end of the sentence to reassure you that they are being amusing. For Gods sake! So if you are texting backwards and forwards and then suddenly it goes quiet, what do you think? You might leave it for a day but then the insecurity rises again and you think... Why hasn't he contacted me, did I say something wrong, was I inappropriate, did I not text him back and he thinks I don't care? My friends told me to wait, not to leap to conclusions, that I shouldn't make myself so available, not to put all my eggs in one basket, to just be patient and maybe get online again... and under no circumstances text him! Step away from the phone.
I read another article and it said for a woman to keep a man in the early stages of dating she should remember three simple words: Distance, Mystery and Novelty. Fine... I would be aloof and alluring, I would wait for him to phone. Men like the chase right? They like a challenge right? Two days later I was a mess. No phone calls, no texts, no nothing. I crumbled on the third day and asked him what had happened. Guess what? While I was going insane with analysing this and that, he had assumed that I wasn't interested because I hadn't texted back. I hadn't replied to one stupid text, therefore I was done with the relationship, I had moved on to another man already and was shacked up with Hugh Bonneville in a villa in tuscany. Sorry did I just say that out loud?
Anyway, so it seems Modern man = Mr sensitive. Girls are not the only ones wondering what has happened and reading through texts and emails trying to figure it out. Wether this modern male is for me, I'm not sure. I do like a man who can make decisions, take control and be confident. I don't like having to plan all the dates and do all the chasing. As my friend put it... Jules, it's slightly undignified. So, I have left the ball in Number. 5's court. We shall see if he plays.