Wednesday, 12 August 2009

A Single Girl’s Guide to Dating Men Who Don’t Know They’re Dating You

‘Maybe we should go for a drink with the boys this evening,’ I leaned back against the window ledge, rested on the pane and raised my eyebrows at Mindy. She frowned, ‘Are we going to bother to tell the boys?’ I shook my head. ‘So we’ll rock up, sit down at the bar and “have a drink with the boys” without the boys realising that they are having a drink with us?’ ‘Exactly,’ I replied, ‘just because our other halves don’t know we’re dating them yet doesn’t make the actual date any less valid. Mutual consent is only a technicality.’ I was, in fact, coming to the conclusion that things might be much easier with a faux boyfriend: they won’t cancel you for the football and they don’t complain when you turn up late.

Mindy and I met our new "boyfriends" in an underground Old Town sweat pit last Saturday night. As per usual, I had been monopolising the dance floor, using my hot lesbian flatmate Maggie as a pole, when I span around and recognised an English lad from the Irish pub. His black curly hair and blue eyes shimmered like an oasis in an otherwise parched desert and I quickly went about instigating a conversation about how we may or may not, possibly, know a couple of the same people. As coincidence would have it, my new boyfriend’s friend recognised Mindy from their university days. ‘It’s terrible,’ she said as we stumbled home at 5am, ‘I don’t remember him at all. And he says that he was the only boy in the whole class. Perhaps he wasn’t fit back then. I’d definitely have made a mental note of him if he looked like he does now. Maybe bumping into him, my French classmate, in France, is destiny or something.’ ‘I quite fancy his mate,’ I interrupted and grabbed her hand, ‘we should double date.’ Mindy smiled and nodded at me like I was a child, whilst at the same time trying to tug her fingers free from mine.

The following lunchtime, we rolled out of Mindy’s bed and shuffled to the kitchen in our pyjamas. ‘You know,’ she said, her throat hoarse, ‘we could be onto something with this concept of dating someone without them knowing.’ I agreed: there’d be no waiting around for phone calls (well, he can’t call if he doesn’t have your number can he?), there would be no arguments. I widened my eyes at Mindy, ‘We’d never get dumped.’

We sat opposite each other, quietly mulling. ‘Can you imagine,’ Mindy broke the silence at last, ‘going up to a random bloke in a bar and acting like you were on a date? Rush up to him all flustered, apologise for being late, call him honey, ask him if he’s ordered you a drink.’ ‘You could lick a napkin,’ I interjected, ‘and scrub at an imaginary mark on his face, compliment him on the shade of his shirt, ask him about his day... Oooo,’ I squealed, as if I’d hit on the theory of relativity, ‘we should totally do it, one night this week. See how men respond.’ ‘Hang on,’ Mindy waved her cigarette at me, ‘are you suggesting that we cheat on our imaginary boyfriends by going on dates with other guys who don’t know that they’re dating us?’ I nodded slowly, ‘No harm in keeping our options open, is there? I’m sure that there’s some relationship manual that advises you to keep dating as many men as possible until you’ve had at least five dates with one of them, then you can think about committing.’ Mindy was momentarily silenced by her smoke inhalation but managed to wobble her head to signal that I had a point. On reflection, I wasn’t sure if I had remembered the manual, accurately: I think the rule is five dates before having sex. Or maybe that’s three. Either way, I wasn’t sure how I’d get around it with my imaginary boyfriend; by the time I’d got to my third or fifth date, he’d still be stalled on zero.

When we arrived at the pub later that evening, Mindy’s date was already there, working the floor. ‘God, I really do like my boyfriend,’ she whispered as she watched him walking into the bar, ‘He’s shaved since last night, he looks even better.’ ‘He probably did it for you, because you don’t like beards, that’s pretty thoughtful. I think my boyfriend’s inside,’ I craned my neck but couldn’t make out the shadows through the doorway. After five minutes, I made a strategic trip to the bathroom. ‘So,’ Mindy said as soon as my bum touched back down on the plastic seat, ‘did you talk to him?’ ‘Of course I didn’t,’ I sighed as if stating the obvious. ‘He’s working. I’m not going to interrupt him when he’s busy. Besides, I’ve not suddenly become a limpet just because I’m going out with… with… with what’s his face now.’ I wondered if it is always necessary to know what your boyfriend’s called. Or perhaps a name is a dating technicality too.