Now I’m in my thirties I feel I can look back over some of my twenty-something experiences and laugh. Or cry. Some of the things I’ve done … I just shake my head and wonder why I ever acted so stupidly. One of those times was a first date I once went on, my first first-date after the end of a two-year relationship. Not just a funny story for me (now), I feel it also serves as a warning.
Here’s what NOT to do on a first date …
*Based on my experiences obviously. Don’t go all ‘feminist’ on me.
He was cute – big blue eyes, a nice white smile, friendly words and all the right compliments. I was insecure, unsure, and drunk before I even got there. My sister had helped me get ready (otherwise known as pouring wine down my throat) and dropped me off (because I’d never heard of the pub before), and it was a disaster right from the get-go.
What NOT to do on a first date #1: Seriously overdress because you didn’t do your research.
Instead: Do your research. If I’d done that, I’d have realised it was karaoke night in a local pub, and my sassiest dress with too-high heels wouldn’t have been appropriate. It was a jeans and flats kind of date.
The plan had been to meet at the pub, head back to his for the dinner he’d cooked, and then see what happened from there. That didn’t happen. My already-drunk self decided that another bottle of wine was on the menu once I’d arrived at our meeting place, and he had no problems matching me drink-for-drink. I’m pretty sure I paid for all of them except the first one. It was an expensive night.
I drank because I felt uncomfortable. I was overdressed and I didn’t really want to be there. I had fun with him but friends-fun. Get-drunk-with-the-boys fun. Not I-heart-him fun. The more I drank, the better I felt so the drinks just kept coming. Wine turned into shots of Jagermeister and before I knew it, we were being thrown out at closing time whilst protesting loudly that we wanted more Sambuca.
What NOT to do on a first date #2: Get drunk.
Instead: Don’t drink before you go and if you do, only have one glass of wine. In fact, maybe even make it a spritzer. Don’t be too-tipsy before you even arrive. Try not to turn into a blithering mess. Try not to turn him into a blithering mess either.
We headed back to his place which was “just around the corner” and the rest of the night is very much a blur. I remember snippets — arguing in the kitchen because he wanted us to get into the same bed together and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, and hunting through his cupboards trying to find glasses to pour more alcohol into.
What NOT to do on a first date #3: Go back to his place … blind drunk.
Instead: Be aware that going back to his place certainly does look like you’re jumping into his bed even when you have no intentions of doing so. No, I know it’s not right for a man to assume but he will. Mine did. And because he did and we ended up arguing about it, I felt the need to put-out even though I didn’t have a sexual attraction to him. Also, as a side note, don’t continue to drink …
I remember moaning because he’d promised me food and there was none, and I also remember us being in his bed, a thin beam of light flashing through the crack in the curtains, indicating it was getting light outside and we’d been drinking for far too long.
What NOT to do on a first date #4: Ignore the fact that you need to eat, especially when you’re drinking that much.
Instead: I should have eaten before I left to meet him but I didn’t because he’d promised me we’d be going for dinner. Never trust a man when he says he will feed you. Maybe we should have made our way to the kebab shop on the way home …?
I remember snippets of being in his bed, X-rated flashbacks of things I wish hadn’t happened. I’ll tell you about those another day, the x-rated version of what NOT to do on a first date perhaps?
What NOT to do on a first date #5: Pump your date with THAT much alcohol and be surprised when he gets limp-dick. (Which I think pretty much gives you the rest of X-rated story anyway …)
Instead: DON’T DRINK THAT MUCH!
The point I’m trying to make here is that my failure to do the proper pre-first-date checks resulted in a situation that could very easily have been taken out of my control. In fact, I don’t think I had control at any point of the night.
My pre-drinking made me braver so I wore the wrong outfit because I didn’t do my research and check out the pub we were meeting at. I felt uncomfortable because of my outfit which meant I drank more to feel more comfortable. That clouded my judgement because I ended going home with a man I didn’t know that well — a man who could have done anything to me. I then slept with that man – a man I felt no sexual attraction to, and following on from that I had a hangover that lasted for days. He was “well into me” and harassed me non-stop before I finally told him we shouldn’t have slept together, it was a result of too much alcohol, I didn’t think of him in a ‘boyfriend’ way, and although I had wanted to remain friends with him, I felt too much had happened. Let’s just leave it at that.
He called me names, really harsh ones too, and the next time I saw him, about a year later, I actually threw my basket of shopping on the floor in Boots and ran out the door, looking back to see a rather bemused smile on his face.
Yep, that happened. In broad daylight, I ran away from a man I once had a one-night-stand with. In the middle of a shopping centre. In front of people. People saw. He saw. Awkward. Top marks for the amateur dramatics!
You see – my twenty-something pre-drinking resulted in a date that I wished had gone very differently. He was a nice guy, a decent guy, up until the point I slept with him and binned him off so spectacularly. He was in the wrong for arguing with me when I said I didn’t want to sleep with him, and he was also in the wrong for saying those horrible things to me when I told him it was just a drunken mistake. At the same time, I was in the wrong for treating him like that. I knew he was ‘into me’, I shouldn’t have gone home with him. I definitely shouldn’t have slept with him. Yet I did. Why?
If I could go back and tell my twenty-something year old self anything, it would be to not drink as much as I did. I rarely drink now, and when I do, I make the same bad decisions. See The Director and that whole story. I slept with him on the first date and for every day that we dated afterwards, I was filled with judgement and doubt. Screw what he thought about me, or anyone else for that matter, for putting out on the first date, I judged myself.
These days I take a much calmer approach to dating. I don’t want to meet in a pub, or anywhere remotely close to the drinking scene. When I get nervous and drink, I drink to excess even when I try not to. Three tiny glasses of wine with lemonade can have the same effect on me as three bottles when I feel anxious, and because my inhibitions are lowered, I make choices I just wouldn’t make sober. With both this guy and The Director, I couldn’t be sure whether or not we’d used a condom. I’m on the pill and I get myself regularly tested but that’s not the point. It takes just one time … you know? Dumb af mistake.
I was lucky. These two men could have been anyone, they could have done anything and if I’m honest, these two are not the only one-night-stands I can add to my list. All the bad things could have happened – I could have caught a disease or gotten myself pregnant. They might have been perfectly nice guys but at the same time, they could have been dangerous. I put myself in potentially dangerous situations. I know I’m doing that every time I meet a guy on a first date but when you throw that much alcohol into the mix, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Who knows what might have happened if I hadn’t got that drunk that night? Maybe I would have given him a chance and a budding romance might have flourished? Perhaps we would have stayed friends? Maybe he would have always hated me for binning him off, regardless of whether I slept with him or not. I don’t know what might have happened but I do know this much – he was a story I wish I didn’t have to tell. It was a pointless exercise, another notch on my bedpost, and for nothing. We didn’t date. He was just another one-night-stand, one that I later literally ran away from in the middle of the day.
So here’s what NOT to do on a first date – get so drunk you couldn’t remember his name and needed to double-check whether or not you actually slept together when you woke up the next morning.