Lunch breaks taken: 3/5
Well! If ever you want to get your pulse racing in the middle of the working day…
So January came, with all its resolutions and a decision to get back in the game. And when better to do this than during a lunch break?! As mentioned in the plan for this challenge, it’s said that we only need one-tenth of a second to form an initial judgment of another person, and 3 minutes to decide if we are attracted to them or not. So why give up entire evenings, or parts of your weekend, for people who, after 3 minutes, you might never want to see again?
With thanks to the dating app Bumble, I was able to match with a couple of guys who worked not too far from me. Both seemed to like the idea of breaking up the working day with a quick coffee – I don’t know if it was the instantaneousness of the decision, or just the prospect of something a bit different to a lonely sandwich – but within just a few hours of hours of matching and chatting during the commute to work, we were face-to-face.
There’s something unbelievably exciting about going for a date during the working day. It felt deviant, which I didn’t expect, because really it’s not – thousands of couples meet for lunch if they work close to each other – and it got my heart and adrenalin pumping, more from fear of being caught by a colleague and having to introduce a complete stranger, than from nervousness about the person I was going to meet. I think it almost felt like I was cheating on my employer, being somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be, and doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing, at 12.30pm on a Tuesday.
One of the funnier observations I had while walking to date number 1, heart in my throat, was that I suddenly thought, if I’m going on a date, who’s to say everyone else walking down this street isn’t going on a date? Suddenly we were all co-conspirators in the most large-scale romantic activity – I no longer looked with pity at the tired suits walking past me, but with intrigue as to who they might be meeting, and how their dates would go. Bit mad, but fun.
Onto date number 1: 43 years old, Irish, Fund Manager, divorced. We went for a coffee on Cheapside, he’d texted ahead and already had a latte waiting for me at the table. Initial reactions to each other were (I think!) attraction, but maybe more intrigue. For a girl in her late twenties working in the arts, a man in his mid-forties working in finance is an exotic being and perhaps the same vice versa. I wanted to know all about him. We chatted well, conversation never dried up. He asked me why I was on Bumble, then told me his own story. He was incredibly complimentary in a non-sleazy way, and made me feel interesting, attractive and youthful. I was smiling throughout, a mix of slight nervousness as well as genuine joy. He was very confident and even tried to kiss me as we said goodbye, although in a kind of cheeky way which allowed me to indulge in my own coyness and play the youthful innocent of my university days.
We followed up with a second date a couple of days later. More compliments, more smiles (see picture above), there was even a bit of knees touching beneath the table. I was still absolutely terrified to think that someone from work might see me (we had a window seat) but that in itself was exhilarating. A more seasoned Bumbler than myself, he said that it was interesting how well the dates were going, even though we were both sober and it was the middle of the day. We pondered over whether it was the schoolboy naughtiness of meeting during working hours, coupled with the time constraint of a lunch break, that seemed to do the job, normally fulfilled by alcohol, of making the experience an exciting one. We met for a drink a week later and are still seeing each other a couple of months on…
Date number 2: Spanish, 40 years old, Investment Manager (bit of a theme when you work in the City). This date was possibly even more naughty than the first in terms of breaking lunch time etiquette, because I actually had to get on the tube to meet him. He was based in Green Park, I’m in St Paul’s, so Holborn seemed like a sensible location, as both our tube lines crossed over here. I think this actually worked against the exhilaration of date number 1, because it felt stupid to travel so far. The fear of not getting back to work on time (and, if asked, potentially having to admit that I was galavanting around on a date…) outweighed the excitement of the activity. As I was hurriedly climbing the long escalator at Holborn, the thought “what the hell am I doing?” definitely crossed my mind several times.
Frustration with myself aside, date number 2 was lovely. He had just arrived in London a few days earlier, having been transferred from his office in Gibraltar. It was a grey, freezing cold, rainy day, and I couldn’t help but feel incredibly sorry for him! Something had gone wrong with the heating in his accommodation too, and there was no hot water. Welcome to England. Although he had friends in London, and knew his colleagues in the London office as well, my brain almost immediately switched to caring/nurturing mode, and all I could do was give him advice on where to go, how to survive in London, and places to escape to when the city all gets a bit much. If ever there were a passion killer, it’s name was Pity. We assumed the roles of local and tourist and romance was off the cards.
We carried on texting for a few days after, and were supposed to meet for a drink the following week, but when the day came I texted to say that I’d still love to meet up if he wanted to, but that I wasn’t in the right place to date again yet and so it would be as friends. He elegantly replied saying that he’d been asked to take a client to dinner that evening anyway, but that if I wanted to we could go for a drink in a couple of weeks time. Wonderfully left, and no resentment on either part for having had to sacrifice time and money to reach that conclusion.
It seems that lunch time dating really is the way forward…