Words by Hadley Stewart | @Wordsbyhadley

We’ve read all the clichéd dating columns before, so for the sake of variety let’s take a look at some different first date secrets.

I asked Twitter for disastrous first date stories and thankfully some of you were very generous indeed. The names have been changed, but goodness me, you couldn’t make these stories up. We’ll also attempt to unravel the secret to a perfect first date – if there is such a thing.

Call the midwife

David planned a date to Nando’s for his first offline rendezvous, because nothing says romance like chicken.

He was quick to remind me that NHS workers get a 20% discount there. “I told him that I worked for the NHS. It turned him on!” I think we can blame all those doctors bonking in the on-call room on Grey’s Anatomy for this. So like any healthcare professional will tell you, work tends to follow you around and unfortunately for David it seems to have followed him on his first date. Perched a few tables down from the ramblings of David and his date was a pregnant lady – possibly there to test the theory that spicy food induces labour.

Fortunately for her, she was right. With a gush of amniotic fluid, medical secretary David fainted head-first into his chips.

Mommy

You may not be familiar with the Xavier Dolan movie, but ‘Mommy’ explores a mother-son relationship.

Perhaps Jay could write the sequel, as his date certainly has given him something to talk about. Not only did his date invite him to a meeting at the coffee shop owned by the date’s mother, but Mother Hen swooped in to cockblock, before asking “so how’s it going dears?”

Jay, this one isn’t on you. There’s a Cilla Black wannabe hosting a dating show in her own coffee shop for her son. Is this ethical? Clearly not.

Contagion

We’re popping over to the Continent next, where Harry is waiting for his date on a train station platform, somewhere in Germany.

“The guy lived three hours away from me, so he took the train down for the day.” How nice! On this occasion, however, love wasn’t the only thing that was in the air.

A passenger on the train decided to walk through every carriage, telling everyone she thought she had meningitis. This revelation caused a bit of a panic, resulting in the whole train – Harry’s date included – being quarantined. With no sign of Kate Winslet coming to save them, Harry waited all day until the all clear was finally given. “There was no second date, but we email each other occasionally. He’s now married.” Maybe they met in quarantine?

Stuart Little

The ending of a first date can sometimes be a little awkward. Luckily, Patrick and his date seem to have hit it off quite well as they stumble their way down the steps of the tube, after a night out in Soho.

“We were kissing on the platform and his hands were grabbing my arse.” Oh, here we go. “I had my eyes closed and I just opened them for a second and, oh my God, I screamed so loudly!” When I first read this, I was picturing Patrick falling off the platform and his date rescuing him – you know, like Sandra Bullock in ‘While You Were Sleeping’.

Instead of Sandra Bullock, Patrick was graced by the presence of Stuart Little scuttling across the deserted platform. “I was so scared, I ran all the way back up to the top of the stairs!” Patrick got the night bus home, alone.

London’s Burning

First dates require an element of verbal filtering – don’t talk about ex-boyfriends, politics or how many times you’ve washed your bed sheets in the past month.

If you lie, however, karma seems to come around and bite you on the arse. Matt’s date had made a passing comment about a group of guys smoking outside the club, so felt it was best to leave out the fact that he too smoked.

With Matt’s bedroom floor littered with both their clothes, he was craving a post-sex ciggie. In an attempt to fool his date, he perched on the bathroom windowsill for a dose of nicotine. “I was smoking and then he started calling out for round two. I panicked and threw the butt into the bin.” It only took a few minutes for Matt’s smoke alarm to start blaring and for this date to end in a puff of smoke.

Oh Matt, surely you’ve heard the phrase “liar, liar, pants on fire” before? Take this as a lesson for us all, don’t tell lies on a first date as they always have a habit of coming back to haunt us (or cause the evacuation of a block of flats). In Matt’s case the truth revealed itself sooner than in most cases.

What’s a perfect first date?

These stories of disastrous first dates are perhaps reassuring for some of us who are single and looking, but also ignite past dating anecdotes for those of you who are happily coupled this Valentine’s Day.

While going on a first date can be a memorable experience, it’s fair to say that most of us do have an element of trepidation when we embark on another ‘drink after work’ with a complete stranger. Yet before we even get to the awkwardness of attempting to identify our date at the bar, coffee shop or bus stop, only to realise he’s not the cute one, we’re busy rattling our brains for a date location.

Can you take a date to the same bar you’ve been to three times already that month with previous contestants? Is a drink better than a coffee? Should we be ‘thinking outside the box’ and take them rock-climbing?

Location, location, location

Laura Jane Williams, author of Amazon bestseller ‘Becoming: Sex, Second Chances, and Figuring Out Who the Hell I Am’ and former Grazia dating columnist, is no stranger to dishing out advice on dating. “I don’t think the perfect date location exists,” says Laura. It’s a fair statement, given that you’re dating a person and not the location. “When the chemistry’s right, you could be in somebody’s Nan’s house and the sparks will still fly!”

In terms of adventurous date planning, Laura does advise erring on the side of caution: “Maybe avoid the outdoors or anything terribly sporty until some comfort and familiarity has been established.”

With that in mind, something more banal like sitting on a squeaking banquette in a mediocre bar will allow your date to concentrate on you and what you’re saying, rather than attempting to hold a bridge pose mid-“where did you go to uni?”

Expectations

Justin Myers (AKA The Guyliner) gets up early on a Saturday morning to provide us with his commentary of the Guardian’s Blind Date column, so perhaps he can shed some light on what makes for a good first date.

“The secret to a good date is, sadly, that there isn’t one. However, the best thing to do to make it as enjoyable as possible is to leave yourself open,” advises Justin.

“No two dates are the same, so to have any expectation whatsoever can lead only to disappointment. Stay safe and don’t lose your judgement, of course, but surprise yourself. Say the things you wouldn’t normally say, laugh louder at your own jokes, give yourself a break from being you.”

And what about the dance with no pants, Justin? “Oh, if you want to fuck them – and they do too, this tends to be crucial – then do it. The only rule is that there are no rules and nobody worth spending any time with would expect you to adhere to them anyway.”

Although we may be misled by clichéd rom-coms, there’s no secret key to the perfect first date. David, Jay, Harry, Patrick and Matt fell victim to some first date blunders, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take something from their experiences – even if it is, in Matt’s case, don’t set your date’s bathroom on fire. So if you are heading off to a first date, avoid your own expectations, stay open to meeting new people, but most importantly, be yourself.


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