I like to think that my dating ‘adventures’ over the last four years have amounted to something of a public service. Kind of like, I’ll date the weirdos so you don’t have to. Or, in a couple of cases, I’ll pre-investigate the weirdos so you don’t have to.
I think that’s been my biggest lesson over the last few years: going from being with the same man from the ages of 18 to 27 to the pure meat market that is the dating scene, I was shocked at the amount of weirdos out there.
Maybe that’s too strong a word, weirdos? Should I be saying oddballs? Eccentrics? Men-who-are-just-incredibly-different-to-me-or-anyone-I’ve-ever-met?
Whatever they are, some of them are downright freaky, and there are some lessons I’ve learned that I most definitely do not want to repeat in a hurry.
So here it is: my run-down of the five men you probably don’t want to date. Unless you enjoy drama, heartache, embarrassment and, on one or two occasions, criminal charges. You’re welcome.
The Sex Offender
YEP, I almost dated an actual sex offender. This was when I realised just how valuable my bored Google stalking was: he emailed me from work a few hours before meeting and, because I am incredibly nosy, I searched his newly-learned (unusual) name. It turned out the man I was about to go for dinner with had recently spent a number of months grooming a teenager on Facebook, and was arrested trying to meet up with her for sex. He escaped prison time but was given community service and put on the sex offender’s register.
Lesson learned, I now ALWAYS do my due diligence on the men I date.
These days it’s incredibly rare to uncover nothing about a guy online – unless they’re telling fibs about their name – and there are a few sneaky tricks you can use to make sure Mr Blind Date is who he says he is. Most professional men have LinkedIn profiles these days (log out or go incognito so he doesn’t catch you snooping), and will generally be on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you’re unable to find a guy on Facebook try searching under his mobile number – some people have super-strict security settings and searching by number can usually uncover them if this is the case.
As a last resort do a Google reverse image search on his profile images: you should be able to come up with something. And if you ever feel uncomfortable or uncover something you don’t like the look of – cancel. I didn’t fancy telling Mr Sex Offender that I’d uncovered his secret, so I faked a freak-out and maintained for the next six months I wasn’t ready to date anyone. He eventually stopped texting.
The One Who Lived Thousands of Miles Away
This summer I spent time dating a guy who lived in New York, and in theory this seemed incredibly romantic: flying 3000 miles, following my heart across the Atlantic, happy hellos and teary goodbyes at the airport.
In practice it was a lot of jet lag and the biggest rollercoaster of emotions I’ve ever experienced. The excitement and ecstasy of spending time together after being apart, the misery of having to leave again a few short days later. The constant pressure to always be doing something fun because the time spent together was finite. And then, towards the end, the bloody awful exchange rate.
There were some advantages to the long-distance thing, don’t get me wrong. We’d have lovely phone calls and really made the most of the time I spent in New York. The whole thing was pretty bloody lovely plus, hello, I got to have what was basically a holiday once a month.
But would I do it again? I’m not sure, I’m yawning at the thought of all that flying…
I was recently told by a man I used to date that I needed to ‘get a grip’ on my feminist views, because no man would want to date me because of them. Apparently I come across as a rampaging man-hater, a stance that is seemingly threatening to staunch Tories and Trump sympathisers (woe!).
This same man once made me cry in my favourite Soho restaurant because he told me he didn’t believe women should ever be equal. He thinks women belong in their home county kitchens, taking care of their kids and chugging their 4x4s to Waitrose to pick up their husband’s dinners before obediently opening their legs at bedtime.
Good for you, not for me.
What I would like to have done is taken a big fat feminist stick and educated the man on exactly what this term means (FYI, it certainly doesn’t mean you hate men, I bloody love them). I would have liked to delivered a monologue on exactly what feminism means to me: equality, being empowered to choose our own paths, removing the gender pay gap, autonomy over our bodies… but I didn’t. What I did do was correct his spelling, wish him well in his quest to find a woman as compliant and malleable as he desired and blocked him on WhatsApp and Facebook.
There’s just no reasoning with arseholes, eh?
The One With The Terrible Table Manners
Have you ever visited a working farm and watched as the animals ate their lunch or dinner? Those munching noises, the bits of god-knows-what flying from the corners of mouths, the head down to the trough… that’s something you expect in a barn, right?
Not at Pizza Express, sitting opposite a 31 year old man, as I did a couple of years ago. I can’t even describe how awful it was: there were crumbs falling out of the mouth, there were animal noises, there was a mis-use of cutlery that I’ve never seen before. It takes A LOT to put me off my La Reine Romana base, but this guy was so gross he managed it.
If this happens to you: get out, get out now. The pig on the farm is more of an eligible bachelor than the guy you’re on a date with.
The Stingy One
The question of finances when you start dating someone is a really tricky one. I don’t expect to be paid for – we’re not in the 1950s any more – but by the same token, it ain’t nice to watch a guy count his coins to make sure he’s not spending a penny more on you than is necessary. I like to take more of a laid-back approach: you got the cinema tickets, I’ll get the popcorn… you got dinner, let me pay for the takeaway, that kind of thing. I do the same with friends and it’s all karma, nobody ends up out of pocket.
But when a man you’re on a date with (who has historically boasted about his MASSIVE… salary) requests an extra 75p because “your latte was more expensive than my tea”, it’s probably time to say goodbye.
Anyway, as I heard on First Dates last week, there’s a lot of pricks before you reach the rose ;) I guess you’ve just got to make sure you have enough plasters in your first aid box…
What about you? Tell me the worst men (or women!) you’ve dated!