What are you looking for? Casual dating in the city

Before I moved to London I went on a staycation with some friends, three of us were all moving to the city around the same time and our other friend had said: “London is the sex capital of the world”. I still don’t know if this is fact or not and I haven’t verified with Google but regardless it made me think about what my experiences of dating would be in the city. Dating cultures differ from place to place and city life sort of facilitates a one date a day mentality if that’s what you’re wanting.  

When I first moved I did pretty much go on a date every few days mostly because I had felt deprived of it whilst living in Wolverhampton. Back home I hated using the apps mostly because none of the guys were my vibe. On Tinder, it would just be a sea of tight jeans, Snapchat username bios, and “what you sayin’ b” messages. Please excuse the inflated generalisations not all men are the same of course it’s just funnier to kind of ham up these stereotypes. 

Dating is fun.

The more I go on the less nervous I feel because I have ripped the band-aid off so many times that I no longer feel that attached to outcomes. I’ve done food first dates which I would normally avoid because I’d probably worry about forgetting how to chew or having something stuck in my teeth. Drinking dates are always a preference although by drink five you might find yourself thinking do I really find you that interesting or is it just the fact I’ve had three doubles and I’m a little bit horny for attention. I would now avoid dates to museums (unless it’s art-related) the Science Museum was not all I had hoped and dreamed of for an off-piste meeting and I learned there’s only so much conversation you can generate when looking at a car engine. 

Keeping things casual is ok and actually very manageable (this sounds like dating has become my business venture). As a woman, I feel that you’re socialised into this mindset that casually dating is harder because you’re bound to get too attached like those velcro monkeys you can buy at the zoo but this rhetoric is never reflected back on men. I can safely say that so far so good, no worrying levels of attachment detected and I actually prefer the spontaneity of seeing different people. I’m new to the city and so the chance to absorb different experiences is something I welcome. 

When asked “what are you looking for?” answers all seem to be the same “something casual but I’m open to more”. I don’t really know what I want only what I definitely don’t want and I’m glad I’ve reached a point where I don’t pursue situations that don’t meet my standards. Sometimes the phrase having standards can seem intense especially within the context of casual dating but actually, I think it’s even more important to uphold your own personal standards. Time is precious and if you’re seeing multiple people it’s good to check in with yourself and actually see whether it’s worth the time. You’re not selfish for prioritising time. I’d always feel bad for ending things and sort of avoiding being blunt until I had to but now it feels easier. Again I feel like this is something that as women we feel we have to apologise for even when friend-zoning someone I’m apologising for the fact that I’m just not that keen. It’s literally no one’s fault it’s just not the right chemistry and that’s just part and parcel with dating. 

You’re not going to like everyone and not everyone is going to like you. I got friend-zoned as I was ironically leaving one date to go to another date and even though I felt awkward because of all places they’d chosen the tube to do it, it was actually just not that deep and if I’m honest the match just wasn’t very compatible. 

Since starting university I decided it was time to take a little hiatus from dating because trying to not sound unintelligible is hard enough when you have done the readings for a seminar let alone if you’re hungover from a less than average date. Getting out into the city and having the potential to form new connections whether romantic or platonic is always exciting. Staying present within these moments is key, things change so fast so just make the most of what’s happening with an open mindset and always remember to check in with yourself and think about how it makes you feel. 

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