Chemistry. We talk about it all the time in dating terms. It’s mentioned in people’s profiles, crops up in those early conversations when the bubble of curiosity has yet to be popped. It’s that elusive, intangible thing that you really can’t put your finger on, but you damn well know when it hits. You’ve probably experienced it – if you’re lucky. So, I thought I’d delve further into the topic. I thought, why not talk about what it’s not. When there’s nothing, not a jot, nada, zilch. It seemed apt and the timing perfect, especially following my date with Mr E.
Mr E is English, 39 years old (I can see this cougar tag beginning to stick…) and works in banking. Our date was an accident really. I’d logged onto the dating site late one night to check emails and browse a little when an Instant Message (IM from now on to stop me typing the whole damn thing out!) popped up. He’d been browsing too, found my profile and (crucially) saw that I was online right at that moment so decided to see if I wanted a chat. His face was, well… friendly – NB: I didn’t say attractive, drop-dead gorgeous, likely to cause swooning – and his profile name (Jimbo) seemed safe and just like a man who really couldn’t take himself too seriously.
A bit of banter
Hello Gorgeous! He typed. It wasn’t the most original start. Hey I type back. We chat a little and it’s clear that Mr E has quite a sense of humour. We move onto some quick-fire questions and answers.
White wine or red? Mr E
Cinema or theatre? Me
Beach or adventure holiday? Mr E
Taxi or tube? Me
French knicker or thong? Mr E
‘What the hell!’ [out loud] Me
Now, people, it’s worth mentioning in case you’re unaware, that IM and late nights often equal horny men, which is fine if you’re really feeling the guy but when you’ve jumped from ‘taxi’ to ‘thong’ in the space of six words its stretching the limits of the imagination just a tad.
I’m not really feeling this, I type, So think I’ll log off…
Sorry, types Mr E in quick response. You sound really nice. Let’s at least meet for a drink.
I ponder his suggestion for a while. There really isn’t any chemistry. I don’t feel a spark of excitement when I’m waiting for him to respond. We’re just two people online when pretty much everyone else is tucked up in bed. And despite his witty patter, his profile pic still hasn’t blossomed into anything other than friendly… But he’s sharp-witted and seems intelligent enough so after a little more banter I agree.
We meet in Kings Cross, in a pub that’s nestled under an old railway arch. As I walk up to the bar I look around me. I’m never sure if I’ll recognise my date so I try to scan faces and look cool at the same time. I’m halfway to the bar when someone calls my name and Mr E walks over to me. He’s about my height and has a portly middle. He also has a portly face and the beginnings of a double chin. He’s wearing a crumpled suit with no tie and his shirt lies open at the neck. Now, in that split second when we see each other for the first time we both wordlessly agree that neither of us is the other’s type. I can’t quite put it into words, but I’ll try. Him: he looks a little hesitant in his eyes. His smile argues with his face. He suddenly seems a little flustered. Me: I don’t feel that zing of attraction. My tongue is far from tied. I’m already planning what takeaway I’ll get on the way home.
Going through the motions
He gets me a glass of wine and we retreat to the corner that he’s nabbed for us. There’s an air of ‘we might as well go through with this now we’re here’. And go through the motions we do. Now, don’t get me wrong, Mr E is full of funny stories. Like… erm… Well, they were funny at the time… You really had to have been there… And he laughs at my own feeble attempts at wit. To be fair, he isn’t bad company. It’s just this chemistry thing. Or lack of…
I feel obliged to offer him another beer and I swear I see his shoulders sag. Damn, why the hell did I do that? So much for being polite. We work our way quickly through our second drinks and then agree that, ‘It really is time to be heading home now.’
We walk back to Kings Cross station making small talk – him about opening a second-hand bookshop on the Norfolk coast and me about retiring somewhere hot. At the station before he heads for the train and I take the stairs to the tube he kisses me on the cheek. ‘Good luck in your search,’ I say.
‘Yeah. You too,’ he replies. And that, as they say, is that. We’re both relieved it’s over. The understanding is mutual. We gel like oil and water – one simply can’t settle with the other, and it really is cool…
A to Z lesson
NO CHEMISTRY FACT NO 1
No ‘hunk’ nerves. Come on, people, you know what I’m talking about. That ‘I’m going to become ever so tongue-tied when I’m around you’ feeling. Yes, you feel like a bumbling idiot, but damn it shows chemistry…
NO CHEMISTRY FACT NO 2
Despite good IM banter and real person-to-person conversation – yes, some of us do still prefer real conversation to faceless, impressionless e-comms – his face hasn’t transformed. There’s nothing wrong with having a ‘friendly’ face, but if it doesn’t move to the ‘you’re pretty damn hot’ stage then something simply ain’t gelling.
NO CHEMISTRY FACT NO 3
Take heed. If you’re really feeling no spark, don’t agree to a date. No spark, no fire!