good dating etiquette is like a minefield. in my little fantasy world, nobody dates. you skip the whole circus of strategic compliments, strategic texting, strategic sex… there would be a distinct lack of strategy. in its place would be a caveman-esque pattern of behaviour. ‘me like you, you like me’. excellent. shortly followed by ‘me want relationship’ or ‘me want casual dalliance’. delete as appropriate and hope you both choose the same, then full speed onwards to the good stuff! gone would be the nail biting wait for the next message, the guesswork over when is an appropriate time to meet- are we at coffee-date stage? are we at dinner-date stage? are we at skip dinner, full speed on to the booty call-date stage? and if you do acquiesce to the call of the booty, does this make you a slut? or just a forward-thinking promoter of healthy promiscuity? i actually had a conversation this week in which anything other than full on open-relationship type promiscuity was condemned as fusty and old fashioned- made me feel like a bit of a prude for believing in occasional monogamy, if only for special occasions.
technology has only made the whole finicky fandango more complex - for example, when (if ever) is it acceptable to make your relationship ‘facebook official? some schools of thought will tell you that no relationship is really solid until this hurdle is well and truly jumped. others will tell you facebook is nothing more than a social ego stroke and that your relationship status means absolutely nada. personally, i’ve been ‘married’ to my lovely friend for a good 2 years now, and we’re blissfully happy. largely due to the eradication of relationship status worries. and her fabulous décolletage.
awkward physicality also really gets my goat. i’m cynically unromantic at the best of times, but when you’re trying to work out how ‘couple-y’ to be with someone new… it’s excruciating - i’m sorry, you want to hold my hand?! uh, no. hand-holding is for cute octogenarians. or your long term, much loved boyfriend. for the dude you’ve been on a couple of coffee dates with, hand holding is way too personal. but then according to the bible of charlotte, so are casual embraces in the cinema, hair touching, lip brushing, and worst of all, the little nose kisses some weirdos think are cute. no it’s not. it’s my nose, and right now, you’re not granted permission to salivate on it. for the more romantically inclined among us, these are probably the best bits. well, good for you- i’ll pass on my leftovers and you can all go cuddle in parks.
i have a fabulous friend who actually loves first dates. she thrives on dating etiquette. best of all, it’s not in a sicky romantic way at al l- for her the thrill is really in the elaborate choreography we all execute in the name of convention. for example, the hours we lovely ladies will spend pre-date pampering, the increasingly flirtatious nature of the text messages, reeling off well-worn witticisms about your crazy but loveable aunt fanny, your date graciously picking up the bill, and the yours-or-mine-or-sexy-abstinence conversation at the end of the night. the circus that i so detest is her weekend playground, and you gotta give the girl snaps for effort - she dates like a pro.
i think to solve my dating problems i’m going to have to come up with some kind of fast track system. a way to tick the necessary boxes with speed and efficiency, and minimum eye-gazing, hand-holding, hair-stroking nonsense. perhaps a questionnaire? something like….
marital status/love children? (provide brief details)
fondness for lycra/hawaiian shirts/jesus sandals?
coffee or tea?
awareness of art/music/culture?
relationship/casual dalliance/weekly booty call? (delete as appropriate)
are you freaked out by this questionnaire?
to be fair, if anyone got as far as the last question without running a mile they’d either have an exceedingly open-minded sense of humour, or be a desperate freak of a man. there’s really only two options- learn to love the game, or be a nun. decisions, decisions.