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My dating disasters

Last update - Thursday, August 27, 2009, 12:50 By Tara Fannon

It’s official: dating in Dublin is like dating anywhere else. After being here for six months I thought it was time to try my hand. I’ve never really been any good at dating – the fact that I can count on both hands how many dates I’ve been on is probably an indication of that.

My mother, bless her, was convinced I would meet the man of my dreams in Ireland. That was far too romantic a notion for me, but I was certainly willing to give good old-fashioned dating without expectations a go. And even if I embarrassed myself, as I’ve done on previous occasions, I still stood a good chance of making new friends.
In the past I’ve done the blind date thing and gone along with eager friends’ double-date fix-ups. When that proved fruitless, I mustered enough barstool Dutch courage to approach men on my own. And finally, after a bit of hemming and hawing, I tried speed dating and matchmaking websites; both outlets produced only strange encounters that almost turned me off them for good.
It seemed as if I’d tried it all. But despite the grim outcome, I was about to try most of it all over again. I had to, because as one of many single hot-blooded human beings on this planet, that is what we do. We’re hard-wired for it.
Because I knew so few people here in the early days, I relied mostly on the use of a matchmaking website. That, combined with a couple of friendly fixer-uppers, meant that I had a handful of dates lined up.
First dates are always a little funny. One if not both parties inadvertently make it known that there are no guarantees. Kind of like a ‘get out of jail free’ card. I’ve found this is communicated in various ways, and is usually done in an e-mail, over the phone or left up to the matchmaker to find the right words.
My very first date in Dublin was over coffee. When I’m nervous I talk a lot and about absolutely anything to fill the palpable space that often exists between two people who don’t have much in common. And this is exactly what happened.
My second date, courtesy of a friend, was over lunch. I had higher hopes for this one as we spoke with ease quite a few times over the phone before agreeing to meet. And the date was a success – until the cheque arrived. He asked me out, suggested the restaurant and confirmed the day and time. Call me traditional, but in the land of dating this typically means one thing: the bill is on him. He, however, didn’t see it that way.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a modern girl and I am happy to pay my own way and often do. Nonetheless I’m still a girl, and so naturally there is a part of me that appreciates being taken care of.
The dates that followed over the next few weeks were nice but uneventful. No friends came of it, either. It turns out I was kidding myself to think that I could have it either way, as these men were apparently on a single-minded mission.
Then one lovely day five years ago in a small bookshop, two people struck up a conversation over The Little Prince. The conversation led to coffee, which led to a movie, which led to a take-away Indian, which led to an all-nighter of chat, laughs, Scrabble and even Irish dancing. Many coffees and many lunches later, I find myself happily married – which I certainly didn’t see coming!
Maybe parents do know best after all.

Tara Fannon is a Sociology student at UCD. Her column appears fortnightly in Metro Éireann

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