Let’s just clear one thing up. I hate dating. I don’t even like the word dating. It conjures up images of frozen cocktails, cheap slacks, over 28’s ‘nitespots’ and vomit.
I don’t suppose any of this should come as a surprise though. Having spent the first ten years of my adult life in two long term, stable relationships, my dating experience is…um…lacking? Perhaps non-existent is a more accurate descriptor. I’ve ‘been out’ with guys and I’ve navigated my way through a number of meaningless encounters. I’ve fallen for guys I shouldn’t have, and I even had my heart broken once. Okay, twice. And quite frankly, I’ve loved every minute of it.
But dating? Dating is for losers that think a partner is a must have accessory. Like hipsters and their brogues. And don’t even get me started on blind dating. The inference is bad enough. Do you have to be blind, as well as desperate? Is there no end to the horror that dating causes?
So as I sat with a group of friends recently who had an interesting ‘dating project’ going on, I laughed. Actually, I choked on a cornichon. And after I had stopped choking, I laughed some more.
But it got me thinking. Maybe dating is a bit like fashion. Maybe it will always be ‘en vogue’. Maybe there IS a point in your life when you can see room for dating, and room for wearing brogues. And for not being ashamed of either. Maybe my well-documented cynicism and caustic outlook is what gets in the way. Maybe it’s the emotion-blocking internal walls of self-defence I’ve erected over years of singledom. Maybe it’s fear. I dunno, but maybe, like the way I’ve grown to accept that mum usually is right, maybe it’s time to face my fear. Maybe it’s time I threw off the shackles of my date-hate, and…
Dated five strangers in five weeks.
Five in Five is an idea that grew out of a conversation, as many of these kinds of things do. Dating didn’t have to be gross. What if there was a way to make it ok? You know, just, all innocent like. Nothing seedy. Nothing that’s illegal in Tasmania. Just a good old-fashioned sit across from someone to share a story. Maybe a drink. If things are going really well, get a second drink. Who cares? The point is it’s no big deal. Controversial I know, but – it’s just a date.
Five in Five is a charity event that sees any single dude or dudette raise money for people affected by urban poverty. By dating. Yep, you have a licence to date. BEST EXCUSE EVER. Your friends sponsor you by either finding someone you can date, or by throwing money at you until they are a) sick of your dating stories or b) run out of money.
Talk about a panic attack. I haven’t dated five guys in five years let alone in five weeks. How would I find five guys? What would I wear? Where would we go? What if I tripped over? Ok, you can see my angst. Not my bag. Not. My. Thing.
But something made me take a second look. A third look. And I realised, with a pang of excitement, this is absolutely my thing. I can get my mates to recommend five guys they would never have thought about setting me up with previously, and use the excuse of charity to check them out. Are you kidding? For someone who can’t get past sarcasm as a form of flattery, this was the ultimate in lazy, convenient, self-protective scoping.
And so it was I found myself sitting across the table in a local beer garden, with Sven*. Sven and I actually had a sort of history – in fact, we’d been to the same high school, he was a couple of years above me. It was with some relief that we both realised we didn’t remember each other. And in a rare display of what I will call ‘maturity’, I didn’t blush when I met him, and I didn’t revert to telling a dirty joke. In fact, I quietly ordered us a drink and suggested we go and sit down for a chat. We then proceeded to spend a very pleasant few hours shooting the breeze. We covered some good ground – ‘happy chicken’, camping, wandering through our twenties and philosophy. It was great fun. Really great fun. I felt like a liberated, fantastically worldly amazon-woman. I was on a date! And it wasn’t even shit! I liked Sven. I didn’t know if we would get married and produce offspring, but I enjoyed every minute of his company.
I got nervous around date two. I had expectations of this one. I don’t know why, but they were there. Damn expectations, always getting in the way. Imagine my surprise when…I ENJOYED MYSELF. Oh my god, the revelation. I was having a good time. I liked Bjorn*. I liked him a lot. I actually wanted to see him again. Would he want to see me? Who knew? Who cared? I was giddy with success and I had three more dates to go. The way I was going, I felt like I had overcome the biggest hurdle of all.
My own fear.
I haven’t been on date three yet. But I’m going to. And I’m going to damn well enjoy it. I’ve released something magical, and easy and previously unobtainable. Maybe it was own personal stash of unobtainium? No wait, that was the movies right? Whatever it is, I’ve somehow given myself permission to try something new, something I’ve previously mocked. Ha, imagine. Me on a date?
You bet. In fact, I’m on five dates. And there’s not an over 28’s drink card in sight…
*Names have been changes to protect the innocent.