I pride myself on being pretty self-aware. I know some of my strengths (I have a good smile, have a lot of interesting stories to tell and my bum isn’t too bad to look at/pinch), and I also know some of my weaknesses (I haven’t got an Efron-esque chiselled physique, I sometimes forget important things and am wary of being emotionally vulnerable).
However, there’s one thing about me which is undeniably true yet I’m still not sure whether it is a strength or a weakness. As was first pointed out to me by CrystalKnows (which is an amazing tool for anyone who regularly has to contact and quickly connect with people), I often make up my mind about someone or something quickly based on very little evidence, and then spend time working out why I’ve made the decision I have.
(While I’m at it, having a CrystalKnows extension for dating apps would be SUPER helpful. Knowing if someone prefers straight talk or instead talks in emojis would really help tailor conversations and approaches accordingly – any developers out there?!)
I reflected on this after a date a little while ago where I was trying to work out why I didn’t want to see her again. Had it been something she said? No, it had all been fairly straightforward, nice and standard first date chatter. Had she catfished me? Nope – pretty much as I expected, though her smile arched slightly differently than I thought it would. It was perplexing, which was both frustrating and interesting at the same time.
It took me days to realise that I’d actually made up my mind that it would be an only date before I’d ever clapped eyes on her. I’d been running late for our lunchtime coffee as a meeting beforehand had overrun. I knew I only had a little time free before needing to get back to work and was rushing to make it, and didn’t want to give her the impression that I was tardy, nor that I didn’t respect her own time by nonchalantly strolling through the doors and pretending that I’d arrived exactly when I meant to.
So I pulled up Whatsapp, grabbed her number and gave her a call. I could’ve messaged her but I didn’t know she would definitely see it in time, plus I wanted to emphasise the fact that I wasn’t being blase.
After a few rings she picked up. “Hiya! What’s ‘appening, boy?”. Those were the first words I’d heard her actual voice say. I’d built up an image of her in my mind based on the messages we’d swapped and the photos I’d seen, and none of these in any way matched her voice. I’m not saying it was a terrible voice, but there was something about her accent, her choice of words and her pre-built chumminess that simply grated on me.
I was nearly there and felt it was way too late to pull out, so I apologised for my timekeeping, explained the situation and made my way to her as quickly as I could. But I knew, as soon as I put the phone down, that I probably wouldn’t be calling her back later for a second date. My gut had told me this, even if my brain hadn’t quite worked it out.
Looking back (it was very early on in my dating experience), I suppose that fact will have clouded my actions and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’d subconsciously decided it was an only date, so my conversation and body language would’ve reinforced that point. That would have given her clues to pick up on which she would’ve mirrored back to me, which would have in turn reinforced my own actions creating an unspoken cycle of only dateness.
That being said, we had a lovely chat and a lovely lunch. I declined the invitation from her to head on for another drink at a bar afterwards (I actually really did have an appointment to get on to) and told her I’d message her later. I then spent the afternoon trying to work out what to say to her about why I didn’t think it’d work out. In the end I plumped for the generic “it was nice to meet you but I didn’t feel the spark” line, which was true enough. She unsurprisingly said exactly the same thing back to me and we parted with no hard feelings, never to meet again.
Since then this has played itself out many times. It’s always been a fun activity trying to work out why I’ve made up my mind so early, and often I get there in the end. Some have included:
- lack of interesting replies to questions
- their assertions that I shouldn’t be happy being a dating dad
- they weren’t my desired physical match
- their accent
- hearing within the first three questions about how much they love skiing
- when the first six things she said were all moans about work
- a cancellation when I’m already on my way, despite messages ten minutes earlier saying it was still on
I’m 100% certain I’ve fallen foul of this too. No doubt, many of those I’ve dated have walked away thinking “god, I’m so glad I never have to see him again” and had their own reasons why I’ve not been a good match for them.
Thankfully, after I realised all of this I’ve gotten much better at acknowledging things in advance and filtering people out earlier on. I no longer date out of a misplaced desire for validation, nor as an excuse for something to do; I date because I want to find someone to build a relationship with. When my gut tells me after one message or a hundred that someone is not right for me, I listen.
This might mean that I’m missing out on a lot of fun as I meet more people and get to know them in more detail, but it’s saving me a fortune in time and money as I try to put my finger on why my gut says what it says and I decide whether or not it’s right.
I don’t need to settle. I don’t need to meet someone and start working out from the first date how I’ll be able to overlook or put up with some of the things about them which grate on me. Neither should they. I don’t want a relationship built from the start on compromise as one of its founding principles – compromise is something that needs to be done, but should never be all-encompassing.
Now, I’m off to work out how I’d react if Kate Beckinsale actually had a thick west country accent.
How about you? What things put you off within the first minutes of a date? I’d love to hear your pet peeves!