Men in Real Life: Gyrating on the Dating Merry Go Round…Part One

Men in Real Life: Gyrating on the Dating Merry Go Round…Part One Briony Rainer

28th April 2016

After learning to love myself a bit more, you will remember from my last blog post that I decided to quit online dating, and was seriously considering getting a cat instead. It feels good to leave behind me that seriously weird but sometimes amusing online world of unreliability, sudden disappearing acts, guys who fail to confirm any actual arrangements to meet, outright dishonesty and all manner of other flakiness and frustrations. So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, goodbye…

But this left me with a problem, which was how to meet men in real life. Maybe taking up extreme sports…or hanging out on golf courses? Unfortunately, I have a phobia of heights and of garishly patterned pastel trousers. So at the start of March, on a quest to find the lesser-spotted species ‘singlus manii’, I signed up for a speed dating event and a singles pub quiz, to see if my detector vans had managed to successfully round up any single men and entice them out into the open.

First, the pub quiz. It was set up speed-dating style, with women and men paired up in twos or threes, and for each round, the women stayed put and the men moved on to the next table. This was a great idea as we had longer to speak to the guys than with traditional speed dating, and a good chance to assess their level of knowledge of utterly pointless trivia. I was also keeping an eye on their ability to confidently state a pub quiz answer even though it is completely wrong, because I am really good at this (and also really competitive – never do a pub quiz with me!). There was nobody that caught my eye, but it was a lot of fun and I did stay afterwards to chat to some of the guys. And there seemed to be a few numbers being exchanged by the end, so it did seem to be successful for some!

And so, onwards and downwards to the speed dating event. I was rather dubious about the website, which was a bit too pink and filled with exclamation marks for my liking, and seemed to be primarily targeting the 20’s age bracket. So far, so bad. Nevertheless I persisted. On the day itself, I was tired, grumpy and unenthusiastic, and had very low hopes and even lower expectations. It was tempting to quit before I began and just not go, but I told myself it would be a good opportunity to practice using instinct to make instant Commit or Quit decisions, so I put on a new dress and a big smile, and forced myself out of the door.

I arrived early, and coincidentally at the same time as a friendly guy who was there for the same event, so we chatted for a bit and this helped me to relax before we got started. The fact that the organisers had all the guys standing at the front at the beginning like a police line-up also helped to break the ice, because I’ve never seen so many uncomfortable looking people in a line and it made me giggle.

I was a bit bored on the one previous occasion I went speed dating, because the guys asked unimaginative questions about my job and hobbies, and I felt like I had had the same uninspiring conversation 10 times. So this time, I went prepared. I searched online and in the weirdest recesses of my brain, and came up with a list of 20 silly speed dating questions. In the interests of fairness, job interview style, I decided to ask everyone the same two or three questions.

My choices were:

“What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?”
“What is your karaoke song of choice?” and
“What would you cook me if I came round for dinner?”

Which elicited some quite interesting answers, especially the first question!

I was astonished at the rudeness of one guy (the last of the evening) who sat down, didn’t introduce himself, took one mobile phone out of his pocket, and then another, and proceeded to just sit and look at them and not speak at all. Was it just me, or had he done this to everyone? Was he in the middle of a very important game of Candy Crush? Was I actually in an episode of Trigger Happy and about to witness him shouting into his phone like Dom Joly? “HELLO! I’M ON A DATE!” Was he busy making a complaint via Twitter to the man-detecting agency I had employed, complaining that he would rather have stayed on the sofa playing Call of Duty? Who knows? Being very British about it I attempted to make conversation because I am polite even if he wasn’t, with not much response. I don’t think I missed out on the love of my life here.


Beware of men with multiple mobiles!
Beware of men with multiple mobiles!

Luckily, the rest of the guys seemed to be lovely and lots of fun, and were game for answering my silly questions.Based on their answers, I ticked 4 people as matches (no, not the guy with the phones) and after sticking around to chat with people afterwards, I ended up going on an impromptu date with one of the guys I had ticked in the pub across the road. I have never laughed so much on a date, or been as open with someone I have only just met – our conversation covered everything from our personal voyages of self-discovery to BDSM! He scored an almost-record 9.999/10 on the Skipometer, and some actual skipping was done on the way home – only a tiny bit restricted by my bad back, which was a good sign that I was finally on the mend. But in the cold light of the next day, realising that we lived almost 100 miles away from each other and were at quite different stages of our dating journey meant that it didn’t make much sense to arrange another date…but we have stayed in touch.

All of the other three guys I had ticked as matches also ticked me, so I think the new dress and putting a bit of thought into my questions did their intended job! However, I decided that I didn’t like any of them enough to genuinely want to see them again, so I quit and didn’t make contact.

In a dramatic turn of events – I ended my month of “dating for fun” by asking out a Real Life Man, and being absolutely convinced he would say no. I dithered about this for over a week before actually doing it, becoming really anxious and convincing myself that all of the possible outcomes were negative. I cannot recall EVER asking out a man I already know before; because when I was first dating more than 20 years ago you just sort of got together with people and that was that, you were “going out”. More recently I have only been doing online dating, and I’m more than happy to ask someone to go on a date who I have never met – because I have no investment in it at that stage. But someone I see every week and have known for a couple of months…and will have to continue to see regardless of the outcome -TERRIFYING!

The possibility that he might say yes did not cross my mind for a second. My lovely friends, whilst trying to be helpful, said things like “we have all asked people out who have said no” and “what’s the worst that can happen if he says no?”, which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence! But on a bright, sunny spring day, whilst walking through the park on the way to meet a friend and feeling great about the world, I spontaneously decided to send him a “fancy a drink sometime?” text. And then I could not actually bring myself to look at my phone for about an hour….only to be delighted to discover he had replied almost immediately with a yes!

So maybe just maybe, next month’s update could be exciting – or alternatively, I’ll be telling you all about my lovely new cat…

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