Sexless in the City

My dating memoir will be titled “One and Done”

Jayde Atchison // Columnist

If I were to win any award as a modern 21st-Century woman, it would be the “One-Date Wonder” champion of the world. At this point, I have started to examine when the planets physically align because maybe that is the secret to a successful evening with a potential love interest. However, as much as I would like to experience dates that inspire a second, I have an overwhelming fondness for my bad dates because they produce the best party anecdotes. 

Location, activity, personality and chemistry create a mix that can make or break the initial impression on a first date. When COVID-19 recently entered the chat, I became stricter on who I was willing to give a chance in person, but pre-pandemic, I would agree to go out with most of the guys I matched with on dating apps. My philosophy was to give everyone a chance because not everyone can create bomb profiles—maybe they would wow me in real life. 

Holding the world champion title of Serial-First-Dater comes with some wisdom on how to eject yourself from a wide range of scenarios.

In 2014, mere minutes after sitting down, my date made an alarming derogatory slur about lesbians. I was so caught off guard. I thought I had misheard and waited to see if he would redeem himself. I sat through him snapping at the servers, ordering me more wine without asking if that’s what I wanted and incessant bragging about how he was an engineer. He asked me questions that began with “hypothetically, when we sleep together…” and suggested we do some very obscene things. When he uttered another “gay joke” as we left the bar, I snapped and called him out on how ridiculous he sounded. He offered to cab me home and I said I would rather walk. He took that to mean with him, so I had to endure 15 more blocks before we finally went our separate ways. I sprinted into a boiling hot shower and was tempted to bleach my brain through my ear canals and burn the jacket he hugged. 

Holding the world champion title of Serial-First-Dater comes with some wisdom on how to eject yourself from a wide range of scenarios. When I was a bright-eyed young singleton, I would stay until the server practically begged us to leave because I didn’t want to be rude. I believed there was good in everyone, and that if I stayed for half an hour longer, the person sitting across from me might turn into Prince Charming. After roughly 197 dates, I have since realized if you are not feeling a connection within the first 30 minutes, there likely will never be one. 

If I could go back in time, I would wait in the bathroom for the moment past-me broke the seal from all that unsolicited wine. I would grab her by the shoulders and demand she grow a backbone, pay her tab and leave the guy to finish his craft beer alone with his hypotheticals. In the past few years, I have seen a surge of female empowerment that says fuck being polite if that’s not what the situation calls for. Ten years ago, I didn’t have that bad bitch energy flowing through me, and it took far too long of being meek and mild to realize it wasn’t benefiting me or my love life. 

Having an exit strategy is crucial for a first date. This can be utilized by meeting in obnoxiously public areas, setting a time limit that you can “cancel” if the date is going well or having a friend pick you up when requested.

Along with the possibility that my suitor could be sexist, racist or rude to servers, there is also the chance that my date has life-threatening ulterior motives. Millennials were constantly told growing up never to meet strangers from the internet, and yet here we all are, disobeying all our parents’ advice and calling it romance. In 2019, I started to have an escape plan for every date because I wanted to be ready for all worst-case scenarios. Before I put on my favourite first date sweater, I will send screenshots of my date’s picture, name and the location of the date to my best friend. I have permanently shared my location through iMessage, so I am easily tracked. Some people might think this is too dramatic, but after watching one too many crime docs, I consider this the perfect level of drama. 

Having an exit strategy is crucial for a first date. This can be utilized by meeting in obnoxiously public areas, setting a time limit that you can “cancel” if the date is going well or having a friend pick you up when requested. I will often tell someone I can meet for a drink or a walk, but the “I have a work call in two hours” makes the date short and endurable if it is not going well, but it can mysteriously be cancelled last minute if we end up vibing. 

On certain occasions, I feel comfortable enough to sip on one cocktail and call it an evening with a polite but firm, “thank you for joining me for drinks, but I’m not feeling a spark.” However, on a bright July afternoon in 2019, I went on a date that left me using my emergency call. When he stood up and greeted me, I realized he last used a toothbrush when it was shaped like a purple dinosaur. His teeth were grimey and covered in brown stains from years of oral neglect. I made a snap judgement that our lifestyles didn’t align, but I stayed for one drink to see if he was a good conversationalist, and to prove to myself that I wasn’t that shallow. After this man talked about nazis for 12 minutes longer than any human should, I texted my friends to call me IMMEDIATELY with an emergency—crying was encouraged. I rushed off the Kitsilano patio, drove to the nearest drug store, bought 30 feet of floss and used it all in one go. I chickened out and sent a vague “I’m not ready to date yet” message that night, which wasn’t ideal, but hey, I’m only human.

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