Category Archives: Dining out

D: Strong woman, scared man?


Sorry. It’s been a while since my last post. No excuse really, other than being darn lazy. I have, however, continued to date and will be playing catch up to bring you all up to speed. I’ve made copious notes so I don’t forget anything…

I guess I should start this post with a disclaimer. Strong – it’s not necessarily how I’d describe myself. If you’d said confident or opinionated even, I’d hold my hands up. But then, there’s no accounting for other people’s perceptions. As I discovered when I met Mr D (Dominica).

Beautiful beginnings

The funny thing is it all started so well. Very well, in fact. So well, I did something I haven’t done up to now. I brought an unwanted visitor to the date with me. But more of that later…

It began with a wink. As these things so often do. A ‘virtual’ one of course. We quickly moved onto emails. Not excessively you understand. Each carefully worded missive delivered a few days apart. There was a thought process behind each, probing questions answered simply or with a sprinkling of wit. By the time we reached phone calls I was of the belief that this man might actually be showing some potential. Our first conversation was almost two hours long, whiling away the time it took him to drive to his workplace out in Reading.

I learn that he’s an engineer. That he’s an old-fashioned gent. That he’s been married twice before. We agree to meet. Note to self: however well you think things are going, always, and I really do mean always, go for a drink on the first date. So what do we do? We meet for dinner.

Isarn restaurant, Islington London

Plush, huh?

He arrives first and, thanks to traffic, I wander in a few minutes later. The waitress at the door shows me to the back of the restaurant and as I approach the corner table a man stands up. He’s wearing too baggy jeans with a shirt half tucked in. Now, I’m not the fashion police, but, come on, you’re on a date. At least decide on whether the shirt should be out or in. I can feel myself giving him that once over – you know when your eyes do the whole head to toe thing and the result isn’t good. Worse still, I think he notices. But the bigger problem is he doesn’t really look like his profile pic. There’s a vague resemblance, yes, but his face is fuller. Much fuller. Like he’s eaten one too many pies. I smile and so does he, and I realise why he’d neglected to smile in his profile picture. He has a few teeth missing, giving his smile that castle battlement look.

I’m sounding shallow, I know. I’d be a fool to try to deny it. But to my point. Posting old photos of yourself when your appearance has significantly changed is a LIE. Hear me, people – A LIE!! And we all know that’s not the best way to start anything.

I sit down anyway, prepared to give Mr D the benefit of the doubt. And actually the conversation starts off well. We pick up where our phone chats began and the conversation begins to flow. Then he throws in a corker. “Has anyone ever told you, you might be a bit daunting?” he says. I ask him what he means. “Well, you’re a strong woman. You’ve got a great job, your own place, you know what you want…”

“But surely that’s a good thing,” I say.

“Well… yes, but a guy can feel that you don’t really need him,” he says.

Lost for words

I look back at him, blankly. I truly don’t know what to say. So he stumbles on instead. “I mean… if I think of most of the guys I know, they haven’t achieved what women like you have. Or if they’ve had it in the past they ain’t got it now.”

The clichéd pregnant pause rolls up, filled only with the murmur of other diners. And that’s when I realise I’d brought an unwanted dinner guest with me – expectation. We’d enjoyed great chats on the phone. I’d been drawn in by our conversations, and was excited when we eventually arranged the date. EXPECT-ing the perfect connection. EXPECT-ing to be bowled over in person. EXPECT-ing to skip off into the sunset surrounded by that love glow. But Mr D had brought me back down to earth with a thump.

“So, do you feel daunted by me?” I say as I feel myself deflating.

He pauses. “Yeah, I guess so,” he says. “I feel like I have to watch my ps and qs around you. I see you as a challenge.”

I don’t really know what to say, so I say nothing. I’m ready for the bill, but we’ve only just begun our main course. The rest of the meal passes with the kind of small talk I really can’t remember. As we’re waiting for the bill, Mr D looks across the table at me. “Well, I think it would be good to see each other again.”

I open my mouth to reply but am interrupted by the waitress with the bill.

Mr D either thinks I agree or decides its best not to let me speak at all.

“Now, I’m not sure what you want to do about this,” he says quickly. “I’m more than happy to pay, but I’ve been on three dates now and have paid for the first two, so it would be great if we can go Dutch.”

I dig out my card, definitely not wanting to owe this man anything. We get up to leave and he marches off, opening the restaurant door and closing it behind him – and in front of me. So much for being an old-fashioned gent… Outside, surprisingly, he’s waiting for me. “So, it would be good to see you again,” he says. I look back at him and in that second there is an understanding between us. Not even if hell freezes over. “Thanks, but no,” I say.

A to Z lesson

Now this is for the men among you. Don’t believe the hype. Even so-called ‘strong’ women want the support of a good man. Trust me I wouldn’t lie to you. Don’t see them as a challenge. See their strength as a positive that together will make you a stronger couple. Don’t feel daunted or intimidated. Feel proud…

Do you think men are really scared of confident women? What are your experiences?


Who should pay?


M: Is honesty always the best policy?


Suchard Thai, Tooley St, London Bridge

I finally arrange a date with Mr M. We’d spoken once, texted a few times but hadn’t quite managed to meet. To be honest, with all the missed opportunities I’d kind of ruled him out. So, when I get an impromptu text from him asking if I’m free tonight I think, ‘What the hell’ and I agree to meet. His online name is MeMyselfandI and at first I’d wondered if it was a nod to the self-obsessed (profile names tell you a lot about a person but then that’s a whole separate post!), but when we speak I don’t get that vibe. His heritage is mixed but he refers to himself as Moroccan. He’s also 33, 10 years my junior. So, I’m a cougar. It’s official.

We meet at London Bridge. I arrive first, but am not waiting long. He looks just like his profile picture and I guess because he’s recognized me I must do too. He’s tall, dressed well and has an intense face that softens when he smiles. He greets me with a kiss on the cheek and he starts walking. Fast. Now, I’m a fast walker but Mr M he’s got the whole ‘quick pace’ thing licked. He walks like a man who knows where the journey’s going to end.

‘So you’ve got a place in mind?’ I say. He nods and explains that it’s a Thai restaurant not far from the station.

The Suchard Thai restaurant on Tooley Street is busy, but there’s a table by the wall so Mr M strides over to secure it.

Dinner is fine, if a little bland, but the conversation is vibrant. Mr M asks me if I’m bothered about the age difference. To be fair, I hadn’t really noticed. Time passes quickly in a way you don’t notice when you’re enjoying yourself. The chemistry is good. He sprinkles a couple of compliments my way. We talk. We laugh. We move onto a bar.

When we’ve got drinks and have settled into one of the bar’s comfy leather sofas we talk about what we’re looking for.

I tell him I’m just dating at the moment, that I’m seeing what’s out there and that I’m not ready for anything serious. He’s ready for a relationship and if he finds someone he gels with he’ll focus on developing it.

That’s when our discussion becomes passionate. Mr M tells me my honesty could end up hurting people. I’m going through what he calls a ‘selfish’ phase. ‘You’re out there dating, meeting people who potentially want to start a relationship, but you’re not ready to settle down, so it’s all about you.’

I like the fire in him and he makes me think. It’s true. Maybe this is all a game if you’re not actually ready to settle down. You’re going to meet people who are ready. But it won’t be a game to them. No. They’ll feel a connection with you and then won’t be able to take it anywhere.

But the flip side of the coin is hard to ignore I tell him. Quite frankly, it isn’t a bed of roses when people lie either. But Mr M doesn’t really seem too concerned with that. I wonder where this is all coming from.

‘Where’s this all coming from,’ I say.

‘I’m just talking hypothetically,’ he says. ‘I’ve been there. I’ve done the whole ‘selfish’ thing and people get hurt.’

And then it dawns on me. This honesty of mine. This brutal, cold light of day truth could potentially hurt him. There’s chemistry here, but my commitment to a relationship isn’t.

But there’s also something else to consider. At 33 Mr M has time. Time to spend a year or two exploring the possibilities of a relationship that may not work. At 43 I really don’t feel I have the same luxury. I want to feel I’m starting something that has a good chance of going the distance. But I also need to feel ready and just now I’m not.

‘So basically what you’re saying,’ he continues. ‘Is we won’t see each other again. That’s kind of what you mean if you say you’re just dating.’

It actually isn’t what I’m saying, but it’s obviously what he’s decided he needs to hear so I don’t argue the point. And in doing so have I lied? Have I compromised my own belief in being honest and open? Maybe so. But maybe on rare occasions a tiny white lie can actually help a situation.

The fire in our conversation does something to us both and Mr M leans in to kiss me. It’s nice. It really would be good to have a second date, but reluctantly I have to admit that he’s right – it ‘honestly’ wouldn’t be a good idea.

A to Z lesson

Speak your truth and do it soon. But speak it with sensitivity, tact and compassion. You can’t control how your honesty is received but you can control how it’s delivered. There’s nothing wrong with knowing what you want, but let the person you’re dating know too.

I remember being on the receiving end of an ex when he, honestly and brutally, told me he wasn’t ready to commit. Ok, so it was painful to hear, but at least he didn’t pull the wool over my eyes. Or tell me we had a future when we clearly didn’t…