Before I joined the single hoards, and probably before, I was a great believer in chemistry. You have to have it, I thought. Real love and real, lasting relationships have to start with that special something which hits you like a thunderbolt and tells you, amongst other things, that you need to get this person naked somewhere.
This, of course, entirely ignored the fact that I had married a man who I thought was an arrogant dickhead on our first meeting.
My ex-husband had been at the same school as my sister’s first husband and I met him at their engagement party. I had attended the event with a university friend who had – by really anyone’s standards – exceptionally large breasts. He had spent the evening talking to them and being a bit of an arse and I thought nothing much further of it until shortly before the wedding, when my sister told me he had requested to sit on the same table as me.
On reflection, this may have been in the hope that I would bring my generously endowed friend with me, but the rest, as they say, is history.
So anyway (and somewhat inexplicably), when I first started dating, I was definitely looking for that elusive frisson of excitement, but I can report – having thoroughly researched the strategy – that chemistry can lead you astray.
Or is it biology?
There is not a singleton amongst us who has not embarked on a highly unsuitable, and ultimately doomed relationship based on following what their body, rather than their brain, is telling them. And this is definitely not confined to men, who have been much maligned by the suggestion that thinking with their nether regions is a problem exclusively theirs. The only difference between men and women in terms of letting their carnal desires get the better of them is that women simultaneously also think that these feelings might end with a happy ever after (as opposed to a happy ending…), whereas men are not thinking beyond getting your knickers off, and would probably lose all feeling below the waist if they knew you were hearing the distant sound of wedding bells.
These days, I am prepared to see if those feelings develop over time, even if they are not there on the first couple of dates. My only proviso is that when I look at my date, if I’m thinking that I definitely never want to see him without his shirt on (let alone anything else) there is not much point in going on. If you’re kind of repelled, I’m not sure you can move on from there.
It’s important though to ensure that your date is not aware that they are not doing it for you. I learnt this the hard way, by sending a text message to my date whilst he was in the loo which said that I didn’t find him at all attractive*. The message was meant for one of the Julies and it turns out that no amount of swearing, banging your phone on the table and suppressed shrieking will bring back a text message that is winging its way to the wrong – oh so very wrong – person. I’m sure the people on the next table thought I was having some sort of seizure. And I wasn’t far off to be honest. I briefly considered jumping in a cab and disappearing, but sadly I’m English and I felt that would compound my rudeness, so I stuck it out. He was really very charming about it (although he did later send me a text message asking me rather plaintively whether I liked him, which I thought was a bit awkward under the circumstances).
The example I generally use to other single friends to support my theory that chemistry can grow over time is that the best (physical) relationship I’ve been in post marriage was with someone I didn’t fancy on our first date. When he asked me for a second date, I put him off for a week or so because I thought I had a better prospect, but he turned out to be one I felt much more sure I didn’t ever need to see naked, so I met up with him again. And something happened – we made a connection we hadn’t made before and that was it. On the whole the episode goes in the ‘really not suitable, and definitely not a long term prospect’ bucket, but I let that relationship continue for some time past its sell by date mainly because I was afraid I would never have sex that good again**.
So my advice, not that I think anyone should ever take relationship advice from a nearly 50 year old spinster with a divorce behind her and 5 years of dating, is not to write your dates off too quickly. If you get on, have shared interests, and when you think about the possibility of seeing your date naked you don’t get a little bit of vomit in your mouth, carry on. You never know what might happen.
*in my own defence, I want you to know that this text message also contained a number of complimentary things about this man, but my point was that despite all these positives I still didn’t find him attractive. Which might be worse, I don’t know. Anyway, it wasn’t a horrible or bitchy message – as I’ve said, I’m English. I’m genetically pre-programmed to be nice…
**have I defeated my own message here?