I’ve talked before about the phenomenon of the “only date”. You know, it’s the one where you know at a certain point that it won’t ever become the first date of many, but instead will be one you’ll either forget within a week or perhaps will share when people ask you what the worst date you’ve ever been on is.
It’s sometimes difficult to spot, however, especially if the only indication is a feeling in your gut which you can’t quite place but which isn’t right. It’s as if you ate a meal you made a few days ago and have had in the fridge, with something inside feeling a little off the next day though you’re not 100% what it’s definitely down to.
So here are some of the signs to look out for if you’re not sure whether you’ve accidentally found yourself on one and aren’t totally sure, or even before you go on it and waste your time.
You talk about the food more than how the date went
After a date with an interesting, attractive person you should be wanting to tell your wingman all about it. You might talk about your date’s eyes (which pierce through to your soul), or their smile (which you just can’t help but mirror), or their laugh (which you heard throughout the date), or their bank balance (those were not cheap shoes), or, well anything about them.
If, however, you spend more time talking about how difficult it was to find somewhere that served the gluten-free, lactose-free, high-protein food your date demanded so you ended up eating three starters in a vegetarian joint in Soho whilst craving a dirty burger on the way home; well, perhaps that’s a sign that you had less interest in your date than your stomach. And that’s not a good thing.
You’ve matched with someone on <insert random dating app here>. You’ve chatted for a few days before agreeing that neither of you are totally crazy, so set a time and day the following week to meet up. You float a few suggestions as to where, and joke about making sure you don’t end up sharing starters in a vegetarian joint in Soho.
And then you never hear from them again. You were the last one to message them, so they should reply to you, right? Or at the very least they should be the one to initiate it this time round?
If you’re asking those questions then you aren’t excited enough to not worry about the answers. If you fancied them enough then you’d be fine making the first move any number of times. Cancel the date and find someone who you actually fancy enough to not keep a record of who initiated with whom.
How was your day?
I love flirting. Flirting in writing is a lot of fun. In fact, with some people I’m way better at it than in person. Even the most inane and straightforward comments can be turned flirtatious with a well-placed emoji or gif.
So if every interaction between you and your date starts or ends with a “how was your day” question, well, what’s the point?! You’re not going to a business meeting, or out to see your aunt for a glass of prosecco. You aren’t their personal biographer with a burning desire to track the minutia of their comings and goings.
You’re going on dates. If every Whatsapp message degenerates to this, or if you find yourself asking this after the first 10 minutes of your first date, accept that the spark may not be there and cut your losses.
There’s a ‘but…’
As a big Game of Thrones fan, the show is full of advice for daters. One of my favourites is a line credited to Ned Stark; “everything said before the word ‘but’ is horseshit.”
If you are doing your wingman feedback, you tell them all that went well, before pausing and adding the word “but…”; you might be in trouble.
- “She’s gorgeous, but… wasn’t really interested in anything I had to say.”
- “We laughed loads, but… come from such different backgrounds that we had nothing in common.”
- “He’s pretty much perfect, but… I’ve never kissed someone shorter than I am and I can’t get it out of my head that we’d make Hobbit babies.”
If you can’t list all the good things without falling back on mentioning the “but…” then it’ll be difficult moving on.
Someone on your mind
They’re funny enough, attractive to a degree and you’re having a nice drink with a touch of light flirting thrown in for good measure. So why are you thinking about someone else? You know, that other person you’ve been messaging and have a date for next week penciled in with. The one who you check your phone for messages from when your current date pops to the loo.
If you’re poly-dating then thinking about other people is fine (as long as the other person is also cool with that, of course). But if not then the fact that you find yourself drifting off and daydreaming about someone else is a sure sign that your current date isn’t doing enough to keep your attention. Best to make like a tree and get out of there.
I bet next week’s date would know where that quote was from, too.
As always, let me know in the comments if there are other signs I’ve missed; maybe next time I won’t waste quite so much time on only dates!