What I Learnt From… Dating Events

I’d been meaning to write this post ages ago but forgot about it.  I was reminded about it the other morning when the radio show host was talking about a date he went on last week.

They had been running a sort of “Blind Date” competition on the show for a week to find him a date.  On Monday, two women rang the show and each answered questions.  He then picked the one he preferred and she went through to the next day to repeat the competition against another contestant, and so on until Friday when he would pick the winner to go on a date with.

When typed like that, it doesn’t rather misogynistic, but that wasn’t how the contestants appeared perceived it.

Turns out that the date happened and throughout it the winner posted video updates from bathrooms at the date locations.  I caught the final update before work this morning, where she suggested that, in future, he should wear a belt to keep his trousers up, not tell inappropriate jokes and not talk so much about his famous father.

That reminded me of two dating events I went on in the past.  One was end of last year I think (it was dark, that’s all I can remember) and the other was earlier this year (when it wasn’t as dark).

I’d decided that events might be a good way to go in the Artificially Meeting People Arena.  It sounds creepy to say, but it’s harder to be ignored in person than by e-mail.  Said differently, you can judge people’s reactions better when you can see them and an activity gives an ice breaker that is far more appropriate than a few photos on a profile.

The first one was ten-pin bowling.  I’m not convinced that anyone on the night had any success from what I saw.  Some people came, bowled one frame and left without seemingly talking to anyone.  Others seemed to talk to whoever was there, stayed behind for drinks afterwards and tried to make the most of it.

The second event was crazy golf.  As always, I turned up first.  A few others arrived in dribs and drabs over the next 20 minutes, but they were all men.  The host was pulling her hair out.  Only one of the women on her list turned up.

I didn’t have any success from either event.  I enjoy bowling and I enjoy crazy golf, so they weren’t a loss but from a dating point of view, nothing happened.  A bit like online dating, it felt a bit artificial and forced and a little pressurised, which feels off considering how relaxed the events were also.

Thinking back, there were a few interesting interactions.

At the bowling, there was a guy who was deaf and used sign language and his phone (via typed messages) to communicate.  I’d say he was in his fifties, and gave his phone number to every woman there and got a lot back in return.  He left the event and, within minutes of him walking out the door, all the women had the same text message asking for a real date.

There was one guy who appeared to not talk to anyone else at any stage.  He picked up his ball when it was his turn, threw it down the lane so hard that it once went over head height and ended up the next lane across and went back to his seat.

At the golf, while we were waiting for others to maybe show, the only lady who was there went to get a second glass of wine.  I’m not sure how I would have reacted if I were her.  Part of me thinks that if it was just me and a party of women, I’d have thought my boat had come in!  But also it must have been a little intimidating.

As she placed her second glass on the table, one of the guys piped up and asked her if she was an alcoholic.  He thought it was funny.  Everyone else was mortified.

There was also a guy who, it turns out, goes to loads of these events all across the north of England and another wearing an ill fitting suit with his shirt hanging out the back.

From the events, I learnt that forcing things doesn’t always work.  I don’t want to say it doesn’t work at all, but my experience says it doesn’t here.

The other thing I learnt as I was leaving both events was how it easy it seems to be to judge what other people are doing as wrong.  Of course, it might not be wrong, but things that you wouldn’t do.  When you go through all the things I noticed, I was wanting to say things like, “Go and talk to someone!” or, “Maybe don’t speak to everyone!” or, “Don’t call people alcoholic”.

It was interesting thinking of this and wondering, “what could I have done differently?”, and “I wonder what people thought of me?”  It was far easier in these circumstances for me to see things in others that I wouldn’t have done rather think, “Well why wouldn’t I do that and should I be?”

These events were an interesting insight in to self-assessment as much as anything else for me.

It’s late in the evening; she’s wondering what clothes to wear
She puts on her make-up and brushes her long blonde hair
And then she asks me, “Do I look all right?”
And I say, “Yes, you look wonderful tonight”

We go to a party and everyone turns to see
This beautiful lady that’s walking around with me
And then she asks me, “Do you feel all right?”
And I say, “Yes, I feel wonderful tonight”

I feel wonderful because I see
The love light in your eyes

And the wonder of it all
Is that you just don’t realize how much I love you
It’s time to go home now and I’ve got an aching head
So I give her the car keys and she helps me to bed

And then I tell her, as I turn out the light
I say, “My darling, you were wonderful tonight
Oh my darling, you were wonderful tonight”

Wonderful Tonight by Eric Clapton

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