The modern dating experience is a minefield.
People no longer meet in real life, swiping has replaced the meet-cute and while you think chemistry can be replicated through witty, banter-filled messages, you quickly learn that meeting up in person will always be the best barometer for human attraction.
That’s why after exchanging anecdotes about lacklustre dates with a friend, she surprised me with this piece of borderline-cruel, but surprisingly brilliant dating advice.
In actual fact, she borrowed it from the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, in which Barney Stinson thinks he’s discovered the secret of dating.
“From the moment the date begins you have five minutes to decide whether you’re going to commit to an entire evening,” he begins to explain.
“And if you don’t, it’s no hard feelings, just good night, thanks for playing, see you never.”
Now, for the uninitiated, Barney Stinson is a womaniser and a Grade A douche, but in that moment from one (arguably slightly bitter) single girl to another, it was as Oprah would call it – an ah-ha moment.
Although the five-minutes might be a bit presumptuous – let’s extend this to say 15-20 minutes – generally you already know in that short window of time whether the conversation flows naturally and whether or not you want to commit to a second date.
This isn’t to say you have to decide, but if there’s no spark and you’ve decided you’d rather be at home in your PJs watching the latest episode of The Bachelor, is it that bad if you bow out before the first drink?
Watch Barney Stinson explain the Lemon Law on How I Met Your Mother here:
Alas, the majority of my colleagues thought yes, and while I was left to contemplate the benefits of a dating sabbatical, they shared some more level-headed dating approaches.
One recommended the humble ‘first dates can only be coffee dates’ rule because she “didn’t want to waste money, time or a night out on someone that wasn’t worth it”.