Ah, l’amour. That holiest of holy grails, the temple into which we seek admission. The state of being which theoretically transcends all and casts a benevolent glow over the universe. Magic carpets, genies and lamps, a rose in a glass jar, dancing teacups, soft shagpile carpets and a crackling country open log fire. All is fair in love and war, and a battle for love is just. Love brings you back to your truest self and brings you home.
Disney and Dorothy aside (although I have got my eyes on some fabulous red Aldo shoes, hurry up payday) how can a 21st century woman find the dazzling ruby slipper amongst a rainy jaded London hue? We’re smart, intelligent, confident, professional and powerful… But as most first dates borne of online dating seem to resemble a job interview (see previous article), how does a 21st century woman turn a routine trading of questions in a bar into an encounter that sparkles?
It needs magic, fizz, pizazz (and champagne would be nice too). ‘Be yourself’, that much-loved cliche of our elders, is not so easy to put into practise when you’re walking into a bar alone trying not to slip in your favourite heels and flash your lucky matching underwear. Add to that the wonder if they will be what you are hoping/wishing/expecting and you’ve a recipe for major panic. If they’re also experiencing similar emotions, how on earth can you expect to ascertain if there’s anything igniting between you?
I believe in Santa (a somewhat stubborn refusal to acknowledge what I rationally know to be true and a fond feeling from childhood – and what’s wrong with believing in a good guy who devotes his life to making others happy?) I also believe in the Loch Ness monster. In short, I believe in magic. But I know that sometimes, it needs a little help and the right conditions to appear.
Dating requires getting to know one another. Getting to know one another requires questions. But rather than ‘do you have siblings’ and ‘what do you do in your free time’, how about questions where you actually get to know each other? They also give a pretty good insight into their deeper personality (assuming they answer honestly) – and can’t be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (classic conversation killers).
My favourites are:
What superpower would you have and what would you do with it? (A voyeuristic perv on the opposite sex changing room, or the chance to change the world?)
Would you rather be Snow White or Jasmine? (What type of woman do they prefer – also ability to put self in others’ shoes.)
Clinton, Bush or Obama? (Positive/Negative shows glass empty/full; also shows political opinion.)
What’s the strangest/best/stupidest thing you’ve ever done? Ability to laugh at self or sense of pride in achievement.)
Which period of history would you have liked to have lived in? (Who do they identify with and what do they consider significant?)
The key to discovering what you want to know is all in their response.
If the response is shock and utter panic, it could be they’ve prepped with standard answers on safe topics – or they might be boring and unwilling to talk. In the case of the latter I would personally question their motives for being there. We’re all nervous on first dates – but does it have to be an awkward and uncomfortable experience? No. Perhaps you may have to take the lead on making it an actual conversation – and you may find the answers you get do make you laugh and help forget the ‘Do they like me?’, ‘Do I like them?’, ‘Is my hair okay?’, ‘Does my breath smell minty fresh?’ incessant worries running like the Circle Line in your frazzled brain.
If responded to open-mindedly, you should be able to maintain an interesting and entertaining conversation. Mixed with a smile and a little cheeky/classy flirtation you could find yourself having a great time – not bad for a first date.