Have We Got Dating Wrong? The 5 Point Dating Manifesto That Could Change Your Outlook

Are We Thinking About Dating In The Wrong Way?


by Contributor |
Published on

One in four singletons miss out on love because they're obsessed with finding an instant connection, a new survey has revealed. Writer Nicola Hughes, 32, re-evaluates her romantic outlook...

Picture the scene: it’s post-work on a Thursday and, after some highpaced, non-committal Tinder banter, I’ve secured myself a date for the evening. I head out with my heels on and my game face ready, determined that this could be the date to end all dates. He might just be The One. He’ll walk through the door (presumably sporting a Disney-style radiance and accompanied by some sort of theme tune) and immediately catch my eye. My stomach will flip, I’ll go weak at the knees and years of heartache and disappointment will instantly dissolve with the glorious realisation: I’VE FOUND HIM.

Except that doesn’t happen. I’m interrupted from that daydream by a very ordinary stranger, squinting as he tries to make out whether my face matches the template he remembers from my profile picture and saying, ‘Oh hi, are you Nikki?’, just a bit too loudly as he overcompensates for the awkwardness of the situation.

As a 32-year-old single woman, I’m no stranger to a fi rst date. I’ve been speed dating, blind dating and online dating. I’ve been for stilted drinks with friends of friends and almost given myself repetitive strain injury from right-swiping on Tinder. And as I still haven’t met ‘the guy’, I’m coming to the realisation that I may have been going about this all wrong.

Thinking back to the way I’ve made friends, I realise that I didn’t instantly click with most of the people who are now closest to me. My inspirational and downright hilarious best friend Kerry was in my friendship circle for a good three years before we made any personal connection at all. We now speak on a daily basis, but if you’d asked me to decide after our second or third meeting whether we should ‘keep seeing’ each other, I probably would have said no. Same with Anna. When we started working together, we had an awkward lunch where we tried to force a friendship. To begin with, I found her a bit bolshie and overpowering but, fortunately for us, working together meant sharing an environment and, three years on, she’s one of my favourite people.

'I didn't connect with many of my best friends when we first met. Why should it be different with love?'

As I couldn’t have said ‘this is the one’ about any of my best friends after a single meeting, why do I imagine that I should be able to make decisions on a romantic partner in that way? Relationships take time and investment, we know this about friendship and approach it differently. Could I bring the same awareness when looking for love?

Last month, I decided to try. I started out by writing a five-point dating manifesto. It goes something like this:

    It was with this in mind that I found myself getting date-ready on another Thursday night recently. Usually, I feel dread before going out with someone new, but this time I felt different. My expectations were lower. The date couldn’t go ‘wrong’, because there wasn’t a ‘right’. I was nervous, obviously – dates always get the adrenaline pumping – but it was also exciting.

    I met Jack* in a bar. He was an ordinary guy looking slightly anxiously around. While I wasn’t blown away by him at first glance, there wasn’t the usual sense of disappointment, either. As the evening went on, we started getting on well together, exchanging stories over drinks. Regularly reminding myself not to expect an instant connection really made everything more fun. At the end of the night, we agreed to meet up again. I walked away relaxed, surprised and just a little bit excited. It’s not that there weren’t any quiet or tricky moments (like when he totally weirded me out talking about his ex-girlfriend, who happens to be a pole dancer), it’s just that I saw those moments as inevitable and didn’t catastrophise them. And it’s not that I thought he was the man of my dreams, but I didn’t spend the whole evening telling myself he wasn’t either, so he still could be. Oh, and it turns out I’m much more fun with this laid-back mindset. Looking for a connection instead of measuring the lack of it made me more open to Jack’s personality. I found myself more engaged and more tolerant – and liked him much more because of it.

    When it comes down to it, humans are not superficial beings, we respond to people’s energy and those intangible qualities. People’s attributes reveal themselves slowly and character has to be experienced. Do we really care if someone has the same interests as us? Or is it more important how they make us feel? I don’t 100% know the answers, but I do know that I had a nice time with Jack and we’re seeing where it goes – whereas the old me might have written him off after two minutes. At the very least, maybe I’ll make an amazing new friend.

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