BURO.'s resident dating columnist Charlie Teasdale debates why modern dating is such hard work
BURO. DATING GURU
I have to buy a duvet. Mine is too thin, I’m told. Limp, even. And it offers no warmth. And the general surface area is pretty subpar because it somehow makes my bed feel smaller, which is physically impossible, but annoying nonetheless. I’m deeply embarrassed, of course. Of all the ducks I was supposed to have in a row by the age of 31, an arsenal of bedding was never high on the agenda. I have nice wine glasses and a cash ISA and subscriptions to a litany of la-di-da periodicals, but still only one duvet.
Because I’m from the countryside and still don’t really trust internet shopping I went to John Lewis on Oxford Street. I was a touch hungover and hadn’t done any research into the tog system, so it was a shit show from the off. I panicked and abandoned ship before one of the lurking partners had a chance to even waft a swatch of goose down under my nose, and vowed to try again another time. 2026, maybe.
Dating is a lot like buying a duvet. It isn’t exactly hard, but you’d rather not do it if you didn’t have to and it’s more likely to go wrong than right. It’s time consuming and expensive and occasionally unpleasant. And despite there being institutions that endeavour to make it easier – Hinge being John Lewis in this analogy, Raya being Harrods, Tinder the middle aisle of Lidl – it’s quite long and frequently underwhelming. (At this point, a lesser writer than I would make the joke that at least when you buy a duvet there’s a guarantee you’ll end up in bed together, but I wouldn’t stoop so low).
That actual date itself is not the crap bit, though - it’s the before and after that kills you. It’s the miserable flurry of Hinge likes you have to fire out on a Sunday evening to let the single world know that you’ll be here for at least another week and there are still tickets available for your show. It’s a Wednesday morning when you’re already late for work and remember you have to get sexified for a date that night and can’t, in fact, wear the pants you slept in. And it’s knowing you’re going to lose three hours of prime Succession time on someone that might turn out to smell like the top deck of a night bus.
Then there are the issues that arise when you actually like someone. For example, you can’t just arrange to see them again, leave it there and get on with your week. You have to enter the agonising purgatorial gauntlet of text tennis, as is custom. You need to inquire but not grill; flirt but not titillate (in the early stages); offer enthusiasm but don’t fawn, and gently unveil without oversharing. It’s a minefield, and worse still, a serious test of your emoji-management skills.
My advice is to call them. A pal once claimed that a telephone call is the perfect litmus test for a love affair’s potential longevity. No one has the minerals to answer a phone call these days, so if they do, it’s a sign they’re made of stronger stuff. Sod date number two, just go straight to the nuptials.
You also have the supposed misery of working out if someone actually likes you, or if they were just being charitable. And, might I add, vice-versa. (Did you actually fancy them, or were they just the first person to agree with you that Jacob Rees-Mogg looks a bit fit in that top hat?) But here’s the secret: if they like you, you’ll know it. They’ll probably tell you, if not in words then in memes. And if they don’t come out and say it, they’ll paraphrase it with attention. People who have been ‘really flat out this week’ probably don’t like you enough, sorry. But screw them.
And as it happens, that’s how you best the dating demon. Just sack off all the apps and the blind dates and the singles’ dinners the self-birdboxing and the one-on-one sessions with that compatibility shaman Clive in HR recommended… and sit down. Maybe get a hot milky drink.
You’re doing just fine as it is, and some bodacious human will appear out of the ether when they’re good and ready, so why force it? You’ll know who they are because they’ll have called ahead and know their way around the tog system. I hear 13.5 is good.
Charlie Teasdale is style director of Esquire Magazine