Allow me to set the scene.
It was January 2022, I was 28 years old and, much like millions of other people around the world, I was in search of a meaningful relationship on a dating app.
Matches were few and far between but, for the first time since the pandemic began, I decided to pluck up the courage to ask one of them out.
She agreed, and an interactive gaming experience was booked for the following weekend.
We’d exchanged messages for six days and appeared to have lots in common. It was one of the few moments where excitement overrode the usual anxiety. The day arrived and I caught a train to London South Bank due to arrive at 2:30pm. Within minutes of boarding, I received a text. ‘I may be a little late, sorry!’
‘No worries!’ I replied.
Well, it just went downhill from there.
She turned out to be nearly 90 minutes late.
‘I’m coming up the steps now, I have to warn you, I might be a bit shorter and fatter than what you expect’, she messaged. She did indeed look different but, being well aware I’m hardly in peak physical shape myself, I went with the flow.
In hindsight, that should’ve been a red flag. I take honesty very seriously but, let’s be frank, it’s hardly a dealbreaker.
We said hello and went on our way. We arrived and she ordered two rum and Red Bulls. ‘I’m still a bit hungover from last night and need some energy’, she quipped.
‘Maybe she’s a bit nervous’, I thought to myself. Fair enough, we all handle anxiety differently.
Before 30 minutes passed, she ordered another two rum and Red Bulls. Now, despite not being a drinker myself, I wasn’t about to cast any judgement outside of thinking, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of caffeine and sugar’.
We finished the activity, an interactive game/challenge experience, which was, in all fairness, really quite enjoyable. As we left she decided to take me on a ‘fun tour’ of the area.
First up: a cemetery. Not just any cemetery, a cemetery for children and sex workers in the 1800s. Strange? Yes. Concerning? Slightly.
I didn’t question her choice as, living outside of London myself, I assumed this was a popular spot. In reality, no-one I’ve spoken to since has heard of it.
If I had ever wished for a sudden military evacuation by helicopter, it was then
She took me to a pub where she ordered, you guessed it, another rum and Red Bull. At this point, fuelled by caffeine, sugar and alcohol, she began a 45 minute Ted Talk, which I like to call: ‘Things you shouldn’t say on a first date’.
‘I used to date a police officer and he didn’t mind the fact I did cocaine because it made me hornier in bed’ she blurted out. ‘Oh, that’s… good?’ was my somewhat shocked response.
‘I know I am beautiful, and I know that many women would pay money to have surgery for a face like mine. I know how to use my looks to get what I want, because f**k men, right?’ was the next gem she threw my way.
I may not have said anything with my mouth, but my eyes gave me away this time. ‘Is that vain?’ she asked. ‘Kinda, yeah’ I said, quite bluntly.
‘Dan, I’ll be honest, you’re the type of guy that makes me want to freeze my eggs’ was the next statement that made me choke on my drink. ‘Yeah, this is weird’, I thought to myself while trying to take the compliment.
She then started discussing the loss of her grandmother and pets in great detail. A mood killer to say the least but, as someone who has lost people and pets, I of course had sympathy for her.
That was until she said, ‘I had a cat that was put to sleep last year. We brought it home afterwards and I slept with it one last time in my bed. It’s OK, though, I left the window open so the room wouldn’t smell.’
If I had ever wished for a sudden military evacuation by helicopter, it was then.
We said our goodbyes, I power walked away and the next day I sent a message saying I didn’t think we were a compatible match. She accepted it gracefully but then followed with, ‘One last question though: do you think kids look like their parents to help prevent incest?’
The only response I could muster was, ‘I have absolutely no idea what to say to that’. Blocked and deleted.
To say it was different to your usual date, I think is an understatement. My friends and family didn’t believe me when I told them, but I can honestly laugh about it now due to the sheer craziness of the whole experience. If anything, it’s a lesson in taking red flags seriously.
Fast forward a couple of months, and I found myself chatting to another match and we exchanged numbers to have a phone call.
‘Before I continue, I have to ask, have you ever slept with a dead animal?’, I enquired after she picked up. ‘Wait, what? What makes you say that?’, was her response.
I took a deep breath and composed myself, before saying ‘Allow me to set the scene…’
So, How Did It Go?