Valentine’s Day is looming and it’s got me thinking about dating apps. Since their invention, the romancing game has changed quite dramatically. Forget traditional wooing, we’re generation DTF.
Don’t get discouraged and start your own version of Bridget Jones’s Diary just yet, because Prince Charming hasn’t actually left the building.
He’s just traded in his horse for a smartphone.
These ten people are here to tell you that there’s more to love than failed Tinder dates, Netflix & Chill and awkward dick pics.
Rochelle, 27, Liverpool
My current boyfriend and I had our first date at a grim little dive bar. We spent the whole night dancing like loons and playing make-believe with everyone we met. We told people that we’d been married for 10 years and just escaped a weird religious cult. The date lasted until 6am, when he bought me McDonald’s and escorted me to a cab. The next day he sent me a photo saying, “Here’s my garbage hungover face, can you deal?” And the rest is history.
Ross, 29, Haringey
Because my girlfriend grew up in London, I really wanted to take her someplace she hadn’t been before. My mind instantly went to the Hunterian Museum. I didn’t want to wander around aimlessly during our date, so I went by the day before to check it out. I apparently didn’t take enough of a look around because it is definitely not standard first-date material. I have never seen so many syphilitic skulls in one place in my entire life. During the date, I started to wonder whether it had been a good idea to bring a date to a museum with antiquated STDs paraded around. But she practically had her nose pressed up to the glass. She kept rooting through drawers to see everything and that’s when I absolutely knew for sure, she was a keeper.
Rebecca, 28, Camden
I’d just come out of a very temperamental and unpredictable relationship someone who I thought was the love of my life. While out drinking with a friend, she took charge of my dating app. A few drunken swipes right and Henry popped into my bubble. We met in the same bar I’d been in when we matched, consumed an untold amount of alcohol and stayed out until 2am. The date is a fond memory because it was hilarious and restored my faith in love. The type of love that gives you confidence in yourself, rather than the type of destructive love I’d had before.
Christina, 31, Cambridge
This first date story isn’t actually mine, it’s my grandmother’s. She was in her twenties, which was when she met my grandfather. They had taken her Westies out for a walk and afterwards wanted to go for a drink, so they left the dogs to rest in my grandfather’s car. The date was going really well, until they got back to the car. The dogs had pooped everywhere and ruined the interior. Thankfully, my grandfather laughed it off and they’ve been happily married for 50 years.
Anthony, 36, Clapham
On our first date, I took my wife to a cocktail bar. I was nervous, so to loosen up we both ended up drinking more than intended. So much so that, before we left, we stole one of the bar’s cocktail-making books. As we were waiting for the Tube, she dared me to sing for her. Just drunk enough to oblige, I stood on top of one of the benches and loudly serenaded her. We had our first kiss on that platform. And that book we stole? It’s still on our shelf at home.
Laura, 25, Clerkenwell
Back when I was living in Spain, I had a thing with one of my brother’s friends. The only problem was, we didn’t live in the same city. Instead of giving up, he invited me to come and stay with him in Madrid for a week. That was our second date. I decided to fly over and it was one of the best trips of my life, like something from a romantic novel. Sadly, the relationship only lasted five months and we’re both with other people now, but remain friends to this day.
Giles, 31, Ealing
Rasa’s and mine first date was a happy coincidence that began with burgers. She was working as a waitress at my local Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Notting Hill. I was a regular, but she’d only been transferred there a few weeks earlier. It’s a good thing she was, since I was due to move to Ealing. I noticed her instantly but it took me eight months to finally get up the courage to ask her out. I had a lot of burgers that year. It was worth it. We’re getting married in Latvia this summer.
Nicole, 23, Northampton
I’d had a string of really bad dates when I met my now boyfriend. Thirty minutes into our date, we started chatting about pick and mix, and he randomly asked if I wanted to go and get some. We drove to the cinema but the conversation was so good that instead of watching a movie, we ended up just sitting in his car, eating £30 worth of sweets. We had our first kiss with mouths full of strawberry chews.
Cooper, 35, Wandsworth
My date and I went to the pub for our first date and got pretty drunk. On the way home, we decided to play a game of who could jump over the most bin bags. She was mid-jump when she stumbled and fell on top of the rubbish. And head-first onto the pavement. I braced myself, but she just stood up and started laughing, with blood trickling down her face. I loved that she could see the fun in the situation and we ended up dating for several months.
Kelly, 31, Wokingham
I’d been scrolling through Tinder, when I matched with this handsome man who was sat on a plane about to fly home to London. We’d matched while he was in Edinburgh on a work trip. He messaged me saying ‘hopefully I can take you out for a drink one day’. I thought nothing of it, as he was 500 miles away. Two days later, he told me that he was going to be in Glasgow. I was never in Glasgow myself but this particular week I had a meeting scheduled there with one of my clients. Believe it or not, it was the same client he was seeing. Still, we seemed doomed never to meet, as he was due to fly home the same day I’d be arriving. Thankfully, he decided to change his flight so that we could go for a drink. We live together in London now. The universe really helped us along the way.