Tag Archives: dealbreaker

A Tale About Stereotypes

Sometimes you don’t need to go on a date to learn an important life  lesson.

I went to my local off-license around midnight to get some food. I gathered courgettes, spring onions, noodles, bananas and yoghurt and went to pay. In the (admittedly short) queue, I yawned while waiting for my turn. The observant shopkeeper asked whether I’d had a long day, and I told him that I had been up since 5am. He wondered whether I was still going to cook tonight, and I confirmed that I hadn’t really had dinner yet. All of a sudden, the dialogue went as follows:

Friendly Shopkeeper: You live on your own?

me: (cautious) No.

FSK: You married?

me: (wary, but honest) No.

FSK: I can come cook for you! I’m a good cook! It’s going to be delicious! (meaningful glance)

me:  Haha, that’s so nice, but no, thank you very much! (nervous laughter)

FSK:  But you don’t have anyone to cook for you! You’re all alone!

me: Oh, but I have a fiancé! (<–desperate  LIE)

FSK: (surprisingly on his feet) But you still have to cook for yourself late at night, poor girl? Why?

The obvious true answer is: while imaginary boyfriends might be good at deterring unwanted male attention, they suck at making late-night snacks. But it was late, and I was tired and couldn’t come up with any great excuses.

me: Urm, ah, my fiancé can’t cook! I do all the cooking! (thinking I was being all clever)

[Just to set the scene: my friendly neighbourhood off license store is plastered with evil eye protection beads and yellowed posters in Arabic that seem to proclaim some deity or other.  Nothing about this store, the majority of thickly veiled female customers or the bearded guy in his twenties doing the night shift says modern or progressive, in fact it all has a distinctly conservative  look. Imagine thus my surprise at the next turn in the conversation.]


FSK: (indignant) He can’t cook? But you deserve someone who can cook for you! Don’t you think that man and woman should be equal in a relationship, and share responsibilities? [insert  surprisingly long gender equality rant here]

me: (astonished face, nervous giggle) Urm, yes, I mean, sure?

FSK: (with fervourNEVER cook for a man who won’t cook for you!!!

So now my local off-license assistant thinks I am in an oppressed relationship with a guy who can’t cook. Also, he single-handedly revised my stereotype that if you’re male, muslim and middle-eastern you know and care little about gender equality and how to achieve it. In fact, the shopkeeper was more progressive than my own fiancé!

Weird, except that my fiancé  is not only very conservative, but also completely imaginary.

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A Strong Selling Point

Maybe I should do a more generic post about the pitfalls of online dating. I do think that there are solid advantages to online dating websites (such as not having to be in a dodgy club with awful music to be approached by half-drunk dimwits you’re not interested in), along with some aspects that are on a par (most people who approach you will be half-drunk dimwits that you’re not interested in) and some disadvantages (it’s harder to spot the dimwits, because they lie on their profiles). However, this is a more specific anecdote.

If you choose to approach someone, be it online or in real life, you should have a sort of opening line to establish a connection. And no, I’m not talking about lines like “You’re dad must be a thief, because he stole the stars from heaven to be in your eyes”.

I’m referring to a simple conversation opener. It’s hard to be creative with this, and most of the time, generic lines like “Do you come here often?” or “What do you do?” work fine. However, when you’re on a dating website, both of these options are out and instead it’s common to refer to a fact about the other person’s profile (“So you enjoy white water rafting, eh?”). Be as original as you must, although that can backfire (“White water rafting sure gets your pants wet, eh?”). It’s even better to show a connection between your profiles (“Wow, we both like white water rafting and the Welsh countryside – have you ever tried the Gnolyawiollhtryhcegh?”), which prompts a reply.

Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a strong point, and not something blatantly obvious (“So, we, urm, both use the internet, heh?”). Also, make sure the connection is about something positive, not something that will just antagonise the recipient (“Did you know that white water rafting is really bad for the environment? I’m surprised your other hobbies don’t include clubbing baby seals”).

The very worst thing to appeal to, however, is someone’s sympathy.

Point in case a message I received a few days ago. A little back story: He had messaged me once before, but I hadn’t replied to him. I’m aware how this sounds, but it is rather common for girls on dating sites to get very high volumes of messages (most of them amounting to “Hi, you sound really nice and your pretty, kthxbye”). It’s therefore customary to simply not reply to signal lack of interest.

Here is thus the second message (verbatim):

I sent you a message once, I am trying my luck for the last time. I hope you will respond as I think we could have interesting conversations.

I am no player at all and I want to be happy, and I am aware it is so difficult to meet a nice woman here in London.
I assume you think so as well, otherwise you would not be here on this site.

[name]

Wow. So your strongest selling point is the assumption that we both must be quite desperate.

Rule: Scaring me with the alternative of dying alone should never be the strongest argument for going out with you.

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Jealous?

Jealousy is difficult enough to deal with when you are in a committed relationship. It is even more complicated and unpleasant when you have just started dating a person, yet they already feel possessive and insecure  about you.

I’m thinking of my friend S. who went on a blind date with a very promising sounding young man. They went to a Brazilian themed bar, where they had dinner followed by some Salsa dancing. He had proposed this, and she figured it would be sort of a laugh. It turned out to be great fun, and the evening got off to a very good start.

As her date excused himself for a moment after dinner, S. was approached by another man and asked whether she wanted to dance. At first she apologized and refused, but the guy offered to simply show her some steps.  As he brought her back to their table a few minutes later, her date candidly asked S. whether she had had fun. He then proceeded to mention this dance every so often throughout the conversation, even when this required a complete change of topic. He was obviously jealous, which considering this was their first (blind) date, appeared extremely strange to S..

The final straw was probably when another man came to their table and asked whether he could grab a chair. S. smiled at him, and told him to go ahead. Her date just hissed:

“Oh, I guess you’d quite like to dance with him, wouldn’t you?”

Needless to say, she left early, and never went out with him again.

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Dealbreakers (Part II)

Although I usually go for the interesting storyline rather than the actual boring details, I’d like to point out that this story did not need any embellishments of my imagination.  All texts are quotes and only edited for privacy.

I had gone on a nice first date, which ended without any major complications. We had walked past my university on the way back, and I pointed out “my” building.

Imagine my surprise when receiving these texts a few days later:

Him: You don’t happen to be around [name of uni] do you? X

Me: No, I’m at home- it’s saturday morning!

Him: Damn, I even went and had a poke around the [my department] dept to see if I could surprise you… X

Let’s keep the perspective that this is someone I’ve only met twice. Yes, twice, including our first meeting ever (15min) and a date in the pub. And now he’s poking around my office on a saturday morning.

DEALBREAKER.

Just don’t be the weird stalker dude. If I don’t take you to my office, don’t come to my office. Definitely don’t go into any buildings that I haven’t invited you in. And if you do so, please turn around in the lobby. Don’t go to reception, and find out where my department is. And if you do so, please just leave with that information. Don’t go up the stairs.

And certainly don’t “poke around”.

I’m extremely glad to tell you that I’ve since moved offices for unrelated causes.

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Dealbreakers (Part I)

A while ago I had a post about sucky second dates, and about these little things that immediately make up your mind about never calling someone again. It can be something they say or something they do, and I think these dealbreaker moments deserve their own little category.

When I first met O., everything seemed fine. He was funny, attentive and nice, and we got along just great. We liked the same music, the same food and shared the same sarcastic attitude – all very good signs for an evening out.

However, I soon realised that it wasn’t a long way from dry wit to cutting derogatory remarks about everyone in our immediate surrounding. I watched astoundedly as the good-natured fellow turned into a bitter critic of everything between shoddy waitressing service and bad dress choices on the part of our fellow dinners. This wasn’t funny, light-hearted banter with a  helping of self-deprecation- it was plain nasty.

I think the switch in my head flicked over when the waitress came and brought us another table’s drink order. After O. curtly sent her back he turned around to me and said exasperatedly “I mean, how hard can it be- she’s only a waitress!”.

Dealbreaker.

This is the time to impress me, so please show me your good sides. Don’t be mean.

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