Attraction is not an exact science

Soooooo here we again, on another lunchtime date.

It’s a lovely sunny day and as I cycle towards my destination, I’m full of the joys of … well, autumn – even if this glorious day is distinctly unseasonal and about as far from a typical dank, autumn day as it’s possible to get.

Today I have the pleasure of passing my lunch hour with yet another potential beau from the dating site, so I roll up at the appointed hour, only to find that he’s already there. Splendid. I like a man who’s punctual.

We agree that it’s far too nice a day to sit in a coffee shop, so we grab a take out and make our way to the park.

He’s a very nice chap, and we pass a pleasant half hour chatting about this and that: where we’re from, where we work and what we do in our free time. He’s polite, intelligent and pleasant company and I learn that he’s a scientist with a gym habit (alas, my pre-baby gym-going days!). He also has a fluorescent yellow cycling bib, which he doesn’t take off.

As far as conversation goes, I’d happily meet him for another coffee but any hopes of romantic compatibility are dashed by one topic of conversation: lunch. He asks what I my usual arrangements are when I’m at work and not meeting potential love matches in the park.

“Well,” I reply, “I usually make my own food and take it in; we don’t have a canteen at work.”

“Ah, yes,” he says, “I usually make my lunch, too: just some rice or pasta with vegetables and a third of cucumber.”

“Oh,” I say, raising an eyebrow. “A third of a cucumber?”

“Yes,” he replies. “It’s just the right quantity.”

He pauses.

“Well, actually, saying a third is not quite accurate. I have half of a third in the morning, and half of a third in the afternoon.”

“I see,” I say.

And I really do see. Now, I’m aware that I have plenty of foibles of my own – and the longer I’m alone, the more I acquire – but I immediately see that he would be driven batty by my slapdash slicing and I would be driven insane by his precision pruning.

His scientific mind is evidenced again not five minutes later when I mention how the little guy has finally learned to blow bubbles, and how we have fun by chasing them round the garden.

He smiles and looks enthusiastic, saying, “Yes! That’s great. You could try different mixtures, to see which dilution works best!”

I smile at him.

He really is a nice guy, and maybe I’m wrong to judge him so swiftly but … I fear he’s not the guy for me. Or maybe I’m not the lady for him. Either way, I’d happily meet him for a friendly coffee but, as previous experience has shown, that’s not really what people on dating sites tend to want, and so he’s consigned to the ‘no’ pile, cucumber and all.

As I cycle back to work, my phone pings. It’s another message from the dating site.

“Hello sweetie pie,” it begins. “You really are beautiful…”

Before these sweet words curdle on the screen, I flick to check the sender’s profile. Scrolling through age, height and eye colour (who cares?), I go directly to ‘About me’.

The profile is short. In fact, ‘Victory3000’ has written just one word: LOL.

And that, I think, as I get back on my bike, really is all I need to know.


No more Mr Nice Guy…

Another day, another date. This week, it’s the turn of Mr Nice Guy. At least, I think he’s a nice guy, but he’s so reserved it’s hard to tell.

It’s also hard to tell when you’re chasing after a toddler who’s looking for conkers among the dog deposits in the local park and you’re not even sure how you ended up on this date anyway.

Allow me to explain…

It’s late on a Friday evening and I get a message from a guy on the dating site. I check out his profile and, if I’m honest, I find nothing that particularly attracts me, so – as dating site etiquette demands – I ignore the message.

And then I get another message, telling me that I’m “not willing to admit” that I “need to take a risk here. A simple chat and a coffee is what I expect.”

I feel slightly indignant. So you “expect” a coffee do you? Well, good for you.

And then the guy tells me that he thinks he knows me, and wonders if I “dare” to answer him.

To be honest, his face does look vaguely familiar, but that could just be the number of times I’ve seen it on the dating site. We’re fishing in a small pond in this town. Still, the tone of his message irks me and I reply that I have no idea if he knows me, but I surely don’t know him. And it’s not a question of daring, it’s a question of not being interested.

And I don’t know how, but there’s something about the way that he immediately backs down that makes me think he may not be the arrogant idiot he’s just made himself out to be and before I know it, I’ve agreed to go for a coffee with him the next afternoon.

So here we are, in the park, collecting conkers.

And he really doesn’t seem to be arrogant. In fact, it’s very hard to make any judgement on him at all, because he’s perfectly polite and pleasant and he doesn’t mind when the little guy assaults him and requests conker-carrying and all the rest, but I have very little idea of who he may be or what he might like or what makes him get out of bed in the morning.

It’s not that he’s cagey about his life: he tells me about his family and what brings him here and where he works and what he does but … somehow I get no idea of his personality and I feel none the wiser. I’m mightily thankful that he doesn’t fall into the Jekyll and Hyde category but, based on what I’ve seen so far, there’s nothing to suggest we’d be the next Bonnie and Clyde, either.

And so we take our leave.

I reply to his next message to say thank you for meeting up, but I don’t really imagine there’ll be any romance between us, though I’d be open to a friendly coffee now and then if he’d like. And this, I believe, was my mistake.

You see, I wasn’t playing hard to get or anything like that. I really did mean that I’d be up for a friendly coffee now and then … and nothing more.

Unfortunately, he seemed to read, “I don’t want to kiss you right away but keep persevering and it might happen.” Which is awkward.

He messages me frequently throughout the next couple of days, professing his friendship whilst wondering what it might be like to kiss me … and eventually suggests meeting at mine for a few drinks once the little man is in bed. And I may be completely wrong, but that doesn’t sound at all like a friendly proposition to me.

And so I do the only thing I can think of to get the message across: I ignore him. Which is rude and feels uncomfortable, but then so does deflecting someone’s over-enthusiastic attentions on a daily basis.

So that’s it; no more Mr Nice Guy and back to the drawing board for me. But I’m not giving up – oh no, I’m not. Because if I meet enough frogs, slippery little amphibians that they are, surely one of them, one day will be the prince that’s worth kissing…

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Oh. My. God. Ohmygod. Omigod, omigod, omigod! I went for a date with a guy and … he was NICE!

Now, I understand this may sound as though I’m damning him with faint praise, but considering my usual fortune with the opposite sex … well, let’s just say I’m reluctant to go overboard prematurely.

Anyway, the Resting Administrator – he’s taking a break from his usual admin career to come to the UK and improve his English, as well as date the locals – is tall, dark, handsome and, shockingly, nice. I can hardly believe it. For once, the dating site has come good, I think.

Although our date is brief, we have time to go for a coffee, take a walk and sit in the sunshine, watching the world go by. And we have a thoroughly pleasant time. So it seems only logical to arrange another date to see how this thing progresses.

And so we arrange for a drink the next evening (I know – evening! Get me…) in a pub that’s close enough to home to facilitate a quick dash if anything happens that my dear babysitting friend can’t cope with.

Although the gap between the little guy’s bedtime and the start of the date doesn’t leave time for a whole heap of preening, I brush my teeth, do my hair and treat myself to a slick of lipstick. At eight o’clock sharp I’m stood at the appointed place and…

… my date isn’t there.

Undeterred, I take a seat and try to resist the temptation to fiddle with my phone. Not five minutes later he arrives, apologises for his tardiness and zips off to get the drinks.

And it’s then that the wheels come off the wagon.

Because when he sits back down, he’s not the charming man I spent the afternoon with; he’s a leering, over-“friendly” guy who’s either undergone a complete character transformation or has made a little too free with the pre-dinner sherry.

I sit, perplexed, as he tells me he’s disappointed that I didn’t immediately start calling him ‘baby’ or ‘honey’ as he had done in his texts. Then he embarks upon an embittered rant about how the people in his building don’t respect him and how wrong this is as he’s always respected other people and even as a teenager he never disrespected anyone and if I did then I’m surely a bad person…

Initially, I just feel bored listening to him rave on. And then I begin to question why I’m sitting there at all. I’ve got barely an inch down my drink and I already know that this is going nowhere. And so I raise my hand to bring his torrent of bitter words to a halt.

He looks at me for a moment, and blinks.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I’m not having a nice time. In fact, I’m feeling quite uncomfortable and I’d like to go home now.”

Immediately, he wilts.

“Sorry,” he says. “Yes … I’m sorry … of course … let’s go.”

I half-expect him to contest my decision, but at the door he just apologises meekly once more and we part.

My babysitting friend mimes disbelief as I walk through the door not 45 minutes after I’ve left.

“Already?!” she says. “What happened?”

And so I tell her.

And the next day, I receive a string of apologetic messages, but it’s plain that there’s no going back from here. I reply to one, then delete the rest. Eventually, he falls silent.

I feel utterly confused. How can someone’s character change from black to white – and back again – in so short a space of time? But I refuse to let one setback get in the way of my new dating regime. In fact, the very next day I get another message from another gentleman who – on the surface at least – appears to be quite normal, and a date is duly arranged.

Now, I’m working on the basis that a girl would have to be very unlucky indeed to meet two crazy guys in one week, right?

Let’s hope I’m right because I’m meeting him for coffee in half an hour…