First Dates Hotel has just finished its first run, and if you missed it, be more disciplined.
If you’ve never seen the show, it’s a gloriously simply premise: strangers meet for a blind date, in a hotel in France, and Channel 4 films it.
Whilst I loved First Dates Hotel (mainly for the gratuitous shots of Fred in his Speedos) I can't wait for it to the series to return to its original home at the 'First Dates restaurant'.
It appears to be a mythical place of love and calamari but is actually Paternoster Chop House. I’ve been there. It’s OK.
First dates are the romantic equivalent of vomiting in that everyone fucking hates vomiting. This universal loathing is crucial to the show’s success because as audience members we get to be voyeurs of this excruciating experience, empathising from a safe distance.
We are privy to the small-talk without having to make it. We can watch unwanted advances without having to fend them off. We can eat our dinner in the knowledge we haven’t shilled out £30 for the privilege.
Neither are we forced to create a semi-believable excuse as to why we should/shouldn’t leave as fast as humanly possible.
"I have an early start" is a gentle, universally recognised sign that you’re not interested. "I accidentally forgot I was supposed to be helping my aunt move house to Uganda tonight" lends itself to too many follow ups.
So why are first dates so bone-achingly awful? Is it because they are essentially job interviews to asses your competency at being yourself? Is it the worry that conversation will run dry, leading to protracted, uncomfortable silences?
Or is it the latent but very real fear that your date might turn out to be psychotic, or racist, or the blonde one from Made in Chelsea?
Yes, and no. But mainly yes. The problem is that first dates are all of these things, all at the same time.
There is no let up in the ways they can make you despise yourself. Who hasn't stopped off at the local corner shop on the way home from a disastrous date, full of self-pity, and banged on the window until Adil takes pity and just gives you a Ristorante frozen pizza to make you go away (I paid him in the morning, alright? Geez.)
And it doesn’t stop there.
Because if there is one thing worse than a bad first date then it's a good, first date.
In anticipation of a lousy evening, you arrive with only a scraping of make-up and wearing your second-best jeans.
But 10 minutes in, you realise it’s actually going well.
You suddenly become a doubting, cautious, self-conscious angst ball as you try not to mention the time you got so pissed that you urinated on your bedroom floor. But mention it you will, because this is a first date. Which means you’re going to get drunk.
Sure, you’re only drinking to fend off your nerves, but it is a sad inevitability that you will make a tit of yourself.
You will come across as being of dubious moral standing, borderline alcoholic, and quite probably promiscuous. This is literally the best outcome you can hope for.
Worst of all, a good first date means you will want a second date.
Now hell, if your second date miraculously goes well, you can go on to enjoy three, potentially four more dates before it all goes horribly wrong. Because, life.
In dating terms, this is an excellent outcome.
first date, so little do you remember of each other after the first drunken escapade – will result in nothing more than disappointment and a hangover, or, if you’re lucky, a mild case of thrush as a result of the Second Date Sex. But we really are talking best case scenario here.But in reality, your second date – which you could arguably describe as a second
By now, you may be wondering why we go on dates at all.
The answer is this: hope.
The reality of dating is that you will meet a swell of people who aren’t right for you before you come close to meeting someone who is.
From the man who invites you to a wedding, in Austria, on your third rendezvous, to the woman who attempts to show you her boob job scars in McDonalds, a litany of weirdos, liars, drunks and ex-convicts will cross your path before you find even one of your Ones.
It is hope that will push you forward.
The One, singular, does not exist. Believing that there is only one person for you is like saying there is only one type of chocolate that makes you happy, or accepting the Communist premise that we should all be content with the single toothpaste option we’ve been allocated and I don’t always think Communism is the answer to everything. I’m sorry, I just don’t.
So there you have it: first dates are rubbish, but we continue to have them in the hope that our next first date – our twelfth, our seventieth – will be different.
I wish all you first daters the best of luck in all your endeavours (of which there will be many. I know a guy who’s been on 73 first dates, and he’s not that ugly) and here’s to all those individuals who are brave enough to do it on TV.