What to Expect From Dating in Your 20s

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You will meet The One, the love of your life, the man you want to marry. Then a few weeks later, by which time you’ll have the order of his profile pictures by heart and all your friends will know his star sign – a few weeks later you’ll unexpectedly run into the guy and wonder what strong drugs you were on.

You will install every dating app known to man. After several weeks of Hinge-ing and Happn-ing you’ll start to wonder if the cute, sun-kissed guys on your screen actually exist… before remembering that cute and sun-kissed isn’t your type.

You will occasionally meet nice, attractive people the old-fashioned way – through friends. Nothing will happen with them either.

A painful experience of unrequited love in your early 20s will teach you precisely nothing.

If you don’t mind paying for his drinks you’re probably in love. If you keep the receipts in a box on your bedside table…

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Renaissance Man

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Perky looks thoughtful. ‘Remind me again what your type is?’

I glance over in the direction of her best friend’s boyfriend.

 

Two hours earlier…

I enter the room and immediately fall into conversation with a charming Frenchman. Ten minutes later, a girl I recognise appears at his elbow. We exchange festive greetings then, gesturing towards Charming Frenchman, I say:

‘Have you met?’

She smiles, not unkindly. ‘Yes, we’re together.’

I resist the urge to grab the nearest bag of Kettle Chips and walk away.

 

Three glasses of mulled wine later, I’m standing opposite Perky asking if there’s anyone – anyone – she could set me up with.

‘Remind me again what your type is?’ she says.

‘Umm… the thing is, if I describe my type, I’ll just be describing the last guy I dated.’

But one.

‘That’s fine. Obviously that’s your type.’

Yes, but as my beloved mother has pointed out on numerous occasions, it’s probably not very realistic.

‘Hmm OK,’ I say, ‘well, the most important thing is that they’re very clever. And funny – we need to have the same sense of humour.’

‘OK, what about height?’

‘Not that bothered.’

‘But you wouldn’t want someone shorter than you?’

‘I don’t really mind. The last few guys I’ve dated have been the same height as me and that’s been fine.’

‘OK but you’re quite tall.’

‘Yeah I guess.’ I think for a moment. ‘Also… I’ve got a weakness for scientists who are also interested in the arts. So, a polymath. Basically,’ I laugh, ‘I want Leonardo Da Vinci, but alive.’

And straight. And fractionally taller.

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A Play For Voices

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CC Image courtesy of quinn.anya on FlickrLast week I threw caution to the wind and attended an event not as myself but as MBE.

The last time I played a part was in my final year of secondary school. I came on stage wearing a wetsuit, snorkel and flippers – I’m pretty sure I only got the part because no one else was stupid enough to agree to wear the costume – and halfway through the first scene my contact lens fell out.

This time I get to choose my outfit. I’m way too hot, but Bellinis are on tap and Beatrice is at my side, so what can possibly go wrong?

‘I don’t know what to call myself,’ I say, as we approach the venue.

Fortunately the whole guest list thing is beyond casual. We get in as ‘Clare’s friends’. I hope I recognise Clare from her Gmail picture.

Clare is lovely and the event itself is wonderful. After four Bellinis everything is wonderful and Beatrice and I are propping up the canapé station, talking intensely about her first boyfriend and where it all went wrong.

We do mingle, and I meet several members of that elusive breed, the dating blogger. It’s a bit disconcerting, like walking down the street and passing someone who’s the spitting image of yourself.

I’d wondered what the vibe of a dating app launch party would be, what sort of crowd it would attract. Socialites, tech heads, bloggers, men in skirts visiting from East London – they’re all there. As are the founders of the app, VoiceCandy. It’s a similar concept to Tinder but with the addition of recorded voice messages. Because, as one of the founders explains, studies have shown that voice, like non-verbal communication, plays a huge part in attraction.

 

I can remember as if it was yesterday the first time I heard VP’s voice over the phone and, aside from the weird instructions about Nando’s, it was entirely unremarkable. Later I would come to love that voice for its slowness – a sign not of stupidity but of a razor-sharp intellect measuring every word for its worth. But at first it was only a reassuring neutral.

Other voices linger in the mind. Tobias’s antipodean drawl carries across the office and I feel my back straighten instinctively. And the first time I call Tristan in his new role and hear him answer, ‘Hi Anna’, I have to take a moment to compose myself.

 

So it’s ironic when Beatrice asks one of the other dating bloggers present what the best singles event she’s ever reviewed is and she replies, ‘Silent speed dating’. Shhh Dating, she explains, takes voice and speech entirely out of the equation.

At which point a couple of guys join our circle. They’re too young, I think, a suspicion confirmed when they say they’re fresh out of uni. But even before they speak, and despite (or perhaps because of) their jock-esque good looks and sharp suits, something about the way they carry themselves, their unsmiling countenances – it makes me want to turn away.

 

Beatrice and I call time around 9. I’ve successfully not revealed my surname or place of employment to any of the assembled company, learnt that my Twitter handle is completely undiscoverable when you put it into the website’s search bar and affirmed my deep love for Bellinis and courgette tempura. The evening ends with Top Gun on the big screen in Hyde Park and a giggly stumble back to the tube.

‘What are you doing tomorrow?’ Beatrice says.
‘Tinder date.’
‘Oh of course! Let me know how it goes.’
‘I will.’

We hug and I go carefully down the steps, wondering how I’m going to explain the mid-week hangover to my unsuspecting date.

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Facing Facts

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CC Image courtesy of CarbonNYC [in SF!] on Flickr‘What do you think?’

I hold my phone up to the camera.

Catherine squints. ‘It looks like he’s got something in his mouth.’

‘Teeth. Anything else?’

‘Hmm yeah, he’s got the hair.’

‘What do you mean ‘the hair’?’

‘It’s the kind you like.’

I frown at the picture. I mean, he has hair, but…

‘I wouldn’t say it was big hair.’

Thank God we’re not being superficial.

 

By the end of the weekend it’s been a week of snail-paced messaging and I’m kind of bored. For all that the guy’s got going for him – teeth, hair, height, sense of humour – he’s still just a face on an app.

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Against Type

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Sumac (who knew?)

Sumac (who knew?)

You will nearly always fall for the person you didn’t think was your type.

— Dolly Alderton

At dancing the other night I met two guys. One of them you know about; the other was a blast from the past.

The one you know about, The Man In Turquoise, is exactly the kind of guy I can see myself with. A lot of that is probably to do with the fact he likes cooking, cue imagining long evenings spent together getting excited about things like sumac.

The Blast From The Past is a more puzzling kind of crush: the kind of guy you look at and can’t quite explain your interest in. He’s shorter than you and thinner and he has this goofy, toothy smile which is cute, sure, but not really sexy. And he can’t dress and you don’t have the same sense of humour. And when you text to check everything is OK after getting a missed call from him at 1am his reply is barely punctuated. He’s probably not interested and, four cheery chirpy messages later, you still don’t know exactly why you are. And when you tell Beatrice, she says it all sounds just like him because he’s really friendly. And that’s really annoying.

CC Image courtesy of Ed Yourdon on Flickr
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