I’ve read a lot of articles in recent times about how dating has become pointless, about how we’ve gotten lost in a world of technology and how most guys are only after one thing. Sure, the world has lost a little bit of the romance, but I’m definitely not convinced it’s time to give up hope just yet.
In my late teens and early twenties I dated a fair bit and as much as some of them were completely forgettable, some of them I’ll never forget. I honestly believe that dating is a vital part of growing up. Dating is a wonderful opportunity to build your social skills, to find out who you are and what you want and for myself in particular, it was a massive confidence boost (I used to be a tad shy).
There are two dates for me that stand out beyond any others. The first one was when I was nineteen, I’d not long broken up with my first love and was pretty down in the dumps to say the least. But still, I was making the effort to go out with friends and on one particular night I was approached by a girl who by all accounts was completely out of my league. We chatted and she asked for my number, I left that night pinching myself and did so just about every single day until our date a week later. I hadn’t put much thought into the date, we’d agreed to meet for a drink at the student union and played it by ear from there. That’s when things got a little bit crazy. I hadn’t realised that it was ‘games night’ at the union which basically consisted of two comedians hosting an event where a number of games would be held with the sole purpose of making a complete fool out of anyone who took part.
Bearing in mind I was a very skinny, self-conscious teenager at this point and trying my utmost to look cool and impress this girl, the first game involved a group of guys who were sent into the crowd to find as many items of red clothing as they could. I happened to be wearing a red t-shirt and red converse trainers. Within seconds I was sitting beside this girl with no top on and no shoes, desperately trying to cover up my meagre frame with my skinny teen arms. After the game had finished, there was no sign of my t-shirt or shoes and so I had to tentatively make my way up on stage to ask the hosts if they could help me find my clothes. Much to the amusement of the crowd they did so via microphone to everyone in the room. I promise you, this is one way of facing your worst insecurities head on! My humiliation, however, wasn’t quite over. I was picked at random to do the next task. The game was to see who could eat the most dry crackers without water within two minutes. I just went for it, I didn’t think I had much to lose at this point. As I stuffed five or six crackers into my mouth however, I found myself in fits of laughter which in turn made me spew the crackers out of every corner of my mouth in a fountain-like manner. I could see my date in the crowd with her head in her hands. I was convinced I’d blown it.
To my complete surprise, I got a second date. As it turned out, making a girl laugh is one of the best things you can do and ever since that date, a good sense of humour is something I’ve always looked for in a girl. But that night taught me so much more. I realised that you should never put yourself down and that you should never believe that someone is out of your league. So long as you treat everyone with respect, be yourself and remember that there’s a reason why they wanted to go out with you in the first place, then you won’t go far wrong – even if you do have to walk home in your socks.
My second memorable date was about eighteen months later. The reason it was so memorable was because it was when I had finally learned to be comfortable in my own skin. I was a lot more confident by this point and I didn’t get as nervous about dates anymore, not in a cocky way, it was just that I’d started to appreciate a date as simply an opportunity to meet new people and have fun. Although don’t get me wrong, a few nerves can still be good in these situations. This time my date was with a French girl, she was quite quirky in all the right ways and I was determined to do something a bit different than just sitting in the pub for the thousandth time. We’d spoken previously of how much we loved that feeling of going on holiday, getting ready and heading to the airport. So however crazy it may sound, I decided to take her to the airport albeit with no intention of actually going anywhere. I picked up a couple of bottles of wine and we spent the night watching planes take off and land, chatting to holidaymakers and generally just running about like a pair of kids. We ended up dating for a few weeks before it fizzled about, but that date I’ll never forget.
I think it’s amazing how certain dates can live so long in the memory irrespective of how significant or insignificant the relationship was. Dating is a part of life that we need to start embracing again, maybe it’s time we put the phones down and just go out and meet people again. It’s not that I’m against online dating, it’s just that I had so much more fun without it. These dates mean more than just a date to me, it’s life experiences that contributed to who I am today. So when people say to me “dating is pointless”, I know they didn’t have half the fun I did. Dating is a blast – if you do it right.