Desperately Seeking Perfection: An Expose on Dating in the UK
As a 33-year-old single woman braving the often uncertain, turbulent, and even downright hilarious waters of dating, I have recently started to wonder if I’m alone in this thing called “The Search For Love.” Is it REALLY supposed to be THIS hard?!? From Mr. Big to Mr. Wrong, sometimes it seems the #1 export the good old U.S. of A. is lacking is “Mr. Right.” Our sisters across the pond surely can’t face the same challenges that we do in the Game of Love…can they???
When a mutual friend “Twit-roduced” me to Deb, better known as @KateWhinesAlot…I knew within five minutes that I HAD to do you guys the IMMENSE favor of introducing her to YOU. She is most definitely the Bridget Jones to my Carrie Bradshaw, and we bonded on many levels – not the least of which our mutual love of NKOTB (which, I suppose, could also explain why no guy ever QUITE measures up to our “first loves.”) With her sarcasm, uproariously funny viewpoint on life and life, and unfailing sassiness, she will have you laughing one minute and crying the next – but whichever you’re doing, you’ll quickly realize that this crazy little thing called Love is just that…CRAZY…no matter WHAT your geographic region.
“Desperately Seeking Perfection”
It’s an unwritten fact that if you live in London long enough you will eventually end up dating at least one investment banker, one barman, one gay guy in his ‘confused’ stage and one guy from an Eastern European country that you’ve never heard of. In a place where public transport is the lifeblood of the city, the analogy between trains and men could not be more apt; if you miss one, don’t panic cause another will be along in a few minutes. If you’re lucky, you get to go on an enjoyable journey to an exciting destination, if you’re not, you get stuck in a tunnel wondering how to get out of this dire situation. That’s the thing about dating in London. The city moves at such a fast pace that looking for ‘The One’ becomes like a game of 20 questions that you fire at one another over a pint of warm beer whilst mentally composing a checklist of pro’s and con’s.
If you are new to the London dating scene there are a few things you should know. Location is everything! We call it ‘The Postcode Lottery’. The first thing a girlfriend will ask you after a date is ‘Soooo, where does he live?’. A reply of ‘SW1’ gets a thumbs up. If you half heartedly are forced to mutter ‘Um….E7….but a really nice part’, its doomed for failure.
I once dated a guy who (gasp) didn’t even have a London postcode. He was from a place called ‘Northern England’. To Londoners, Northern England might as well be located on the moon. We don’t get it. We don’t understand why anyone would want to live outside of the M25 ring road that surrounds London, keeping us xenophobe types in and the rest of the UK out. When he started talking about ‘his family farm’ and ‘milking cows’, I think I had the same expression on my face that I get when I see a baby wearing earrings. Confused. Slightly disturbed. Just a bit off kilter. ‘You can’t live on a farm, you’re not wearing plaid!’, ‘What do you mean, there’s no Starbucks??’ (gasp) His eyes turned downwards to stare at the half eaten packet of beef and onion crisps we had been sharing and he said, ‘I’ve had girls from London refuse to date me because I am not from London’. This kind of shocked me! Are we women THAT picky! Are we missing out on true love because of geography? Do we subconsciously only want to date men within our own personal DMZ (Designated Man Zone)? If so, where does this end? I can imagine Shakespeare having a field day with this one ‘Thou shalt not fornicate, as thee resideth 30 seconds past ye olde DMZ’.
I’m a soppy romantic at heart and, despite the aforementioned mouth open situation, I found this a tough pill to swallow. Sure, I’m not a country girl but if the man of my dreams lived in Outer Mongolia, I would travel there and crawl through yak poop to pull him in to my heaving bosom!
So with his statement hanging firmly in the air, punctuating the awkward silence, I left him there at the bar and made my way home. As I ran the evening over in my mind, to my horror, I discovered that he was actually right! I did want to date someone from London. It got me thinking about my own prejudices and my own ‘mental checklist’ that unknowingly weighed me down and ultimately doomed every date I went on.
As I sit chatting away with my dates, my mind unknowingly, yet inevitably, runs through its checklist: 1) Tall?….check. 2) Dark?…..check. 3) Handsome?…..could be worse. 4) Good job?… .check. 5) Obvious signs of baggage?……oh hell no, children, psycho ex-wife…UNCHECK, UNCHECK, I need a new pen cause this one ran out of ink!!!! Now, waiter…CHECK!!!!
It just takes one uncheck on your list to make all the other checks worthless. This is how my dating life went. Just when you thought a guy had a full line of checks, he would reveal the un-check worthy fact. I’m not sure what would happen if I came across a man that ticked all the boxes. Would that make him perfect? Surely not! We’re told perfect doesn’t exist and if that is the case, my checklist will never be complete and I’m destined for a life of spinsterhood with 15 cats. This is when I realized, something had to give! I would do away with my mental checklist on the next date and just go with it for once in my life.
We females do tend to make dating overly complicated. I asked a male friend of mine if men have a mental checklist when out on a date. He said, it doesn’t extend much beyond ‘would I want to hook up with her, yes or no?’. Simplicity. It must be great to be male. Their brains are not complicated by ‘thoughts’. That’s kind of how it should be though. Am I attracted to this person physically and mentally? If the answer is yes, that should automatically put this person through to the next round. They shouldn’t have to answer 25 bonus questions to win the next date.
So that’s what happened. I threw away my list for my next date and replaced it with an open mind.
My train home was delayed that night, proving that if men are in fact like trains, if you are too picky, there may come a time when one is not along in a minute and you’re left sitting in the cold eating a McDonalds Unhappy Meal.
So my lesson learnt from Mr. Northern England is to stop placing impossible expectations onto my dates. Realize that no one is perfect and don’t dismiss someone because they don’t tick every single box on your list after one date. Oh, and not all people who live on a farm wear plaid. 😉
Deb Ashby is a 33 year old blogger, web designer and rabid NKOTB fan from London, England. She is known to the masses on Twitter under the moniker of @katewhinesalot and over the last 3 years has garnered a large following due to her witty tweets, blogs and commentary on the NKOTB fan world, making her one of the most recognisable faces in the community. A singlet
on for a number of years, Deb’s rollercoaster ride through the dating world, was documented ‘warts an all’ through her Twitter account. Describing herself as the ‘quintessential Bridget Jones’, her followers rejoiced when last year she finally found her Mr Darcy!