‘Is This A Date?’ Elle Gordon Wonders If The Effort Of A First Date Is Fading

Is romance becoming the unicorn of the dating world?

All I can see is lips. A pair of lips… looming towards my face as I decide with the swiftness of Usain Bolt that those lips are not going to go anywhere near mine. They’re a nice set of lips, don’t get me wrong, and the person they are attached to isn’t half bad either, but I’ve only been talking to him all of ten minutes. Some gentle jibes about the fact that I am sporting a Club Orange backpack (it’s fricking cool, alright?!) led him to introduce himself. We talked about careers, he works in Sales… he’s back after years living abroad and in the 600 seconds I’ve been talking to him, I’m liking what I’m seeing but then BAM… the lips hurtling towards mine.

It’s not that I am a prude either. During my University years I was happily living the ‘shift and drift’ mantra but now I feel that a little more effort than some quirky charm and a nice smile should be required. I get that if you’re not going to use the apps, bumping into someone on a night out is kind of how these things begin… but I still don’t want someone who wants to lob the gob 600 seconds after meeting me.

In fact, a much more preferable use for those lips might be to ask the question. ‘Do you want to go for a drink or a coffee sometime?’ Already, I’m interested and those lips might start to look a hell of a lot more appealing. But those days of a little bit of wooing, – yes, wooing – a little bit of romance and a proper date seem to be dwindling.

An American survey found that in fact, only 44 per cent of unattached people went on an official first date last year. This makes me wonder when did the ‘in- between’, the exciting road between the meet-cute and #relationshipgoalz start to erode?

I have lost count of the number of friends who bemoan the fact that their boyfriend’s idea of romance consists of ‘call over’ followed by an evening spent on the couch and maybe an order in from the nearest takeaway (I blame Netflix and chill.) And before you roll your eyes and whisper the beginnings of ‘high maintenance’ let me concede that those nights can be cosy and lovely and a lot of these men are great and kind partners. But more than ever it seems the concept of a fantastic and official, ‘first date’ is like a mythical unicorn careering it’s way out of existence.

I firmly believe we should try to hold on to those ‘butterflies in tummy’ moments if we can. I have talked to a ton of friends who all seem to have the same reaction when I question them, lamenting the days when other halves seemed to put real effort into impressing the person who caught their eye. Or even, when men were amenable to being asked out, and made an effort to wash their hair before said date. We’re not asking for much!

And although maybe a slightly slower process, getting back to the basics has its appeal and it steers clear of any confusion. From personal experience, the great thing about a first date is that it ensures any ‘friend zone’ questioning cobwebs are well and truly banished. Short of having to bellow through the myriad of thought streams wondering, ‘Is this a date?’ it can be a confusing time. Especially if it’s just a night in with no effort and crappy movies; that scenario could be something but it also reeks of friend zone confusion – or even more confusing, the expectation of casual sex.

And the wonder of a first date is that you can confirm you are definitely attracted to this person. Nowadays, we can already know the honest-to-god inner-workings of a person but as yet might not have met up in real life. Consoling someone who had a tough week at work, even though you have not actually so much as shared the same airspace seems to be two steps ahead of the all important foundation; whether or not there is a spark there, crucial for the beginnings of a relationship to blossom.

Niamh, 27 says, ‘I have no problem using dating apps but you can get swept of in back-and-forth texting rather than just saying, ‘Let’s meet for a date and see if there’s anything there’ which is a clear cut make or break moment.

And don’t forget a proper date can also provide clarity albeit perhaps not the one you had hoped, and can lead you to realising that in fact this person is most definitely NOT the person for you.

Take the aforementioned man with the lips, ‘Mr Lips’ we shall call him. In those ten minutes before his failed swoop, I couldn’t glean much that you might chalk down as ‘make or break’ but what a first date would have helped me determine is whether or not ‘I wouldn’t mind seeing him again’ rather than the ‘Oh lord no I never want to see him again.’ As is a remarkably common occurrence for me now, he departed in a huff following this fateful exchange. But maybe he isn’t a sulky awful person and a date might have yielded a much more positive result wherein by the end it would have been my lips sauntering towards his.

When you break it down, a first date is just two people making the effort to get to know each other for a few hours. The funny thing that always happens to me is I spend so long worrying about what they think of me that I forget it is equally if not more important for me to figure out how I feel about them and to just enjoy the moment without overthinking it. They might be the ‘one’, they might not be, but I think we need to remind ourselves that we are valuable enough to deserve a little bit of a woo, and then take it from there.

Because what is the point in falling in love, if romance is not going to be a big and important portion of that delicious cake? And remember to have fun with it, there will undoubtedly be disasters, there will be a a necessity to have that friend on stand-by for an emergency, ‘Oh god I’m so sorry something has come up and I have to leave’ phone-call. But then there might just be that one, where you find yourself hoping against hope that this person is feeling how you’re feeling, you’re laughing more than you ever thought possible on a first date and have forgotten to care what you look like, and wouldn’t mind if they went in for the kiss… in fact… you’re hoping they just might. Ah, the first date… let’s hold on to it as long as we can, and leave the 600 second love-stories to the teens.


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