A Girls Dating Experience – Dateless In Daybrook

After your folks have harped on all Christmas about when you are going to go dating, settle down and have mini replicas of you, comes Valentine’s Day: the annual reminder that you’re all alone with no one to have lazy nights in front of the telly with. But why? After all, we live in an actual city with over 300,000 people rattling about in it; surely it can’t be that hard to find someone suitable in Nottingham?

With that in mind, I decided to have a serious go at goading the fat, creepy flying kid in a nappy to fire a sharp object at me. I was going to try my hand on the dating scene, and have a go at a few tried and trusted methods so I could write about them for Left Lion. No other reason. Honest.

Online dating - illustration by Rikki Marr

Illustration by Rikki Marr


Online Dating

Even now, dating over the internet has a stigma attached to it, throwing up images of guys in a box room, playing World of Warcraft with one hand and doing God knows what else with the other.

Signing up to a dating site is scary; I worried that I’d know at least twenty percent of the people on there, Nottingham being the small, intimate place that it is. Luckily, there were only two, one of whom knew what I was up to. Good.

Choosing the right username was harder than I thought. Picking the right profile picture was even harder. Would a pic of me on a night out give out the best signals? Should I use one of me doing something active? Then there’s the profile blurb; I went for some vague waffle about my job, books, and films, whereas my friend (who joined me in my online dating foray) just listed one-word answers. As I was about to discover when I plunged into the pool of potential paramours, words don’t really matter in the world of online dating.

A word of advice for males with dating profiles, if I may. Never select a username containing ‘XXX’ or ‘69’. Also posting a photo of your dick, covered only by your tiny banana hammock, will not find you a woman. Same goes for constantly going on about how you “don’t do this kind of thing often” or that “this was the result of a drunken bet”. This we all know; we’re all in it together, remember.

Oh, and stop with the “I don’t know what to write” rubbish, too – tell me about yourself, and not what your best friend, who just happens to be a girl, says. In the beginning, my friend and I were having a rare old time, constantly sending texts back and forth to each other as a whole host of men came our way. We spent time discussing the best way of replying, and how to get rid of the less desirable folk. But then it just kind of got a bit boring, and more than a bit sad. Nothing says ‘Home with Mam with nothing to do’ more than someone messaging you at 10.57pm on Christmas Eve. My favourite message was sent one cold, wet Wednesday night just before Christmas: “do you WANT TO MEET?” Now that’s a sentence to get a girl hot. I decided to pass on that occasion.

Don’t get me wrong; there were some nice guys on the website. But for every one of them, there were at least two dickheads sending messages like; “So why can’t you date in the real world? Is it because of your massive hair?” By the time I was inching towards actually meeting someone in real life, I was bombarded with horror stories from friends.
(my favourite: the dinner date a friend went on that ended swiftly when the guy started to cry and he had to get her to call his mum).

Thankfully, the date I went on wasn’t that bad, but we were definitely not right for each other.
Bottom line: the menfolk on dating sites appear to be 50% well-meaning guys that are hoping the love of their lives are going to spring, perfectly toned and full of wit, from the loins of their web browsers, and 50% who believe in the mantra “any hole’s a goal”. If you think you could be that springy girl or even that hole, then online dating is definitely worth a shot – and if you approach it with the right attitude, you may even make some friends out of it. Alas, for me, it just wasn’t right. Profile: closed. E-mails: deleted.

Speed dating - Illustration by Rikki Marr

Illustration by Rikki Marr


Speed dating

If it’s good enough for the cast of Sex and the City, it’s good enough for the rest of us, right? After skim-reading an assortment of websites, I managed to work out the protocol; turn up at the venue (more often than not, a bar in Hockley). Slap a badge with your name and number written in bold, across your chest (which means you’re good for a boob-peek, gents). Sit on your own table, and await a herd of men to move from woman to woman for four minutes of chit-chat. Twice.

Then, you’re encouraged to mark them as a ‘yes’, a ‘no’ or ‘friend’ (which means ‘yes, but no’). There’s also a comments box, presumably for you to enter such things as “sort your mole out” or “don’t talk about Hitler so much next time”.

At the end of the night, you submit your form. If you have any matches, you’ll be told about it the next day. According to protocol, if you picked a potential mate and they only wanted you as a friend you won’t get told but if you’re both match/match or friend/friend, you will. As the organiser put it at the end of the night, “You don’t want to meet up with someone intent on shagging you, if you only want a coffee”. Quite.

I wasn’t in the best frame of mind on the night of the event. I’d been up since the wee small hours, touring a freezing recovery facility full of used cooking oil in Norfolk (don’t ask). I’d missed my train home, so was late and was still dressed in my factory outfit, looking like a very camp Santa.

I definitely stood out against the girls in short skirts and low-cut tops, but I reluctantly took my seat and waited for the onslaught. You could tell who of the men had been around the track; they launched straight into what felt like a pre-selected set of questions. You could also tell who of them had never done this before; they either had no questions and got all flustered, or – worse – had no answers.

There were a lot of questions about what I did when I was working and what I did when
I wasn’t working, which got boring very quickly; I toyed with the idea of making up a different life for myself with every person but decided against it. And then he came. I sat there for a very long four minutes as he vomited words at me, detailing his previous speed dating experiences in minute and geographically correct detail. Then he described his recent gym workouts in the same methodical, meticulous manner. The clock slowed down. The sound of the bar died away. My insides tickled with a suppressed guffaw. I bit my cheek to prevent myself laughing. Finally, my ears rejoiced at the sound of the bell and he wandered off to the next poor sod.

He was the only guy I wanted to ditch at the end of the night, but when I went to tick that box I caught him looking at me, his depth-less eyes possibly showing a hint of sadness. I couldn’t bring myself to tick the ‘no’ box, so I settled for ‘friend’ and hoped that he hadn’t done the same thing.

I’ve heard nothing so far. Thank God.  Don’t get me wrong, one of the men there did get back to me. He’d fancied my friend, was a bit narked that she hadn’t felt the same way, and could I put a word in for him?

Speed dating isn’t a bad way to meet people, if you disregard the stench of desperation that fills the room – the normal-to-weirdo ratio is heavily weighted towards the former, you’re in the same boat as everyone else and, unlike online dating, you know for sure that the man you’re talking to has his trousers on – but the question remains: how can you tell that you’d like to get to know someone better in just four minutes? I got on well with a couple of guys; maybe a wine or two later, I would have been throwing my phone number at them. Who knows?

Meat market - Illustration by Rikki Marr

Illustration by Rikki Marr


Girl on a mission

Since the dawn of nightclubs, people have been using sweaty, shouty rooms full of loud music to try out their best chat up lines and find, well, if not love, then a bit of the other at ten to two in the morning. And Nottingham’s got plenty of those. So, myself and a friend headed to one of the biggest meat markets in town, full of girls dressed for an evening under a lamppost at Forest Road West and blokes who – despite working for some big company, or at least pretending to – appear to have only one brain cell to rub against their seldom-used dicks.
We felt that we were doing the right things and not looking out of place. We drank. Then we drank some more. We swayed to the music and tried to look like we wanted to pull. I still don’t know exactly how you convey that, but I think looking around alluringly is a pretty good way to do it, although I’m pretty sure that I looked as if I was sucking a lemon. My contact lenses also dried out, so I had a squint, too. Brilliant.
I took a moment to see how everyone else was getting on. Some girls were having their throats sucked on the dance floor. Others were bolting for the toilets with mascara running down their faces. I came to the conclusion that a) I might well be the oldest woman in the room, which was depressing beyond belief and b) I wanted to be somewhere fun with my friends, dancing around and laughing, and actually talking, not shoving my tits into some guy’s face and grinding down on them. We grabbed our coats, ran out into the street, and bolted to the safe haven of a proper pub.
So, after two months of trying my hand at ‘pro-active’ dating – and even actually asking a guy on a date, for God’s sake –  I’m still single. But to be honest, after throwing myself into the hellfire of trying to meet someone, I am more than perfectly happy to sit back, sip some wine in my own front room and watch what the hell I want to on Valentine’s Day.
My advice: if you’re a little shy, try online. If you want to try before you buy, go speed dating. If you want a quick fling, then head on down to a club on a Saturday night. Or, how about just going out somewhere you like, having some fun and, y’know, just being yourself?

Post by Penny Carr

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