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Anjuly Mathai
Anjuly Mathai


It’s a date

It’s a date

Why ‘dating’ might actually be harmful to modern relationships

Recently, I went out for dinner with a guy and asked him a personal question. He laughed and said: why are you asking me such a personal question on our first date? That’s when I realised that I didn’t want to think of the dinner as a ‘date’.

A date is like the prologue to a book you’re not sure you want to write. You’re fishing for that perfect prologue that you think will write itself into a book. A date is supposed to be ‘fun’. You indulge in small talk, chitchatting about this and that, ably aided by two tequila sunrises which give you enough conversational ammunition to fire fresh salvos until the sun really rises. But even in your drunken haze, you’re searching for the Fatal Flaw that’s going to reveal the true character of the guy. They say finding a partner is like a mating dance. If so, you’re always waiting for the moment he’s going to step on your foot.

Maybe he tells you that he’s looking for ‘casual dating’. And the warning buzzer in your head goes off. Obviously, all that’s on offer is a bedroom romp and maybe a sympathy breakfast. Or maybe he tells you that he’s ‘turned on’ by your looks or your conversation and the buzzer goes off again. Sexual innuendo makes me uncomfortable when I’m just getting to know a guy. Or maybe he keeps turning the conversation to himself. A profusion of I’s start creeping into his sentences and the buzzer gets pretty deafening.

Outrageous flirting is allowed when you’re on a date because both of you are clear you’re not there to discuss the Sensex share price. And that’s completely fine because it saves you a lot of time playing the ‘he likes me-he likes me not’ card. If he asked you out on a date he probably does like you and you can stop wondering whether he asked you out because he REALLY wanted to discuss that office report. In fact, it probably fast-tracks the entire process.

But personally, I’d so much rather go out with someone without officially naming the outing as a ‘date’. Of course, both of you might know it’s a date but you still don’t want it said out loud. What’s the difference you ask. It’s like when you know you have a lisp but it still hurts when someone points it out even though she’s not really saying anything you didn’t already know. Believe me, labelling matters.

Also, if you’re on a date, your brain is playing Kung-Fu with a hundred million thoughts all at the same time. Is he going to make a move? Do you want him to make a move? Are you talking too much? Is he going to consider it improper if you order one more drink? Should you go for starters or straightaway to the mains? Is he going to be ‘chivalrous’ and offer to pay the bill or will he be ‘modern’ and suggest you split it? Do you have anything on your teeth? Is your top too transparent? Women don’t just multi-task, they multi-think.

When I’m on a date, I’m searching for words like ‘vibe’ and ‘chemistry’. The truth is, I’m not really sure if a ‘vibe’ is nothing but a combination of qualities you’ve subconsciously decided that you want in your guy. When he falls short of any of them, the ‘vibe’ is missing. When you’re on a date, you’re not satisfied with anything less than perfection. You don’t really give yourself a chance to get to know the man. Of course there have been exceptions—women whose antennas were so trained that they honed in on Mr Right the moment they met him and now are happily married with a brick house and a cat that curls on the rug. But how many women like that do you know? For the rest of us, it might be time to realise that it’s better to carry some balm oil instead of dumping the guy the moment he steps on your foot.

After all, if my date tells me he didn’t vote during the last elections, I’ll widen my eyes and let out a gasp. You mean you’re not interested in what’s happening in your own country? Conveniently forgetting that on voting day, I went and got myself a manicure. You’re not perfect but you expect the guy not to make a single conversational misstep. Welcome to the world of dating.

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