Dating advice: the one drink bailout

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

A long time ago, when I used to date, I had a pet theory about how to make dating a little less arduous: the ‘One Drink Bailout.’ It was published as a guest blog for a fellow blogger – who, incidentally, wrote me a beautiful guest blog on crushes in return – but his blog is now offline, so the post has disappeared. It’s one of the posts I’m asked about most often, and today someone told me they were trying to find the link but couldn’t, so I said I’d repost it here. I wrote it back in 2012 so I’m not sure how it’s aged, but if you like it feel free to add it to your dating profile if you’re sick of spending long evenings on dates you know aren’t going anywhere.

The one drink bailout

I love a good date, I do. But dating takes up so much time – as a general rule I would prefer to find people I like hanging out with, hang out with them for a bit, and then fuck them if the moment is right.

I’ve been on some great dates in the past – one guy came for a picnic with me in the park, one guy took me to a comedy show, another got me stoned then came on my tits. So dating can be brilliant. But let’s sit down and have a proper chat about this dating business, shall we? Pull up a chair, grab a pint of whatever you drink to impress your hot dates, and level with me – dating is sometimes awful, isn’t it?

A night you could otherwise be spending with your friends, or getting laid with someone you already know well enough to fuck, is instead spent with a complete stranger. A stranger who is sometimes incredibly dull, and often mismatched enough that you know pretty quickly that you won’t want to fuck them. It happens the other way round as well, of course. Very rarely has a guy come on a date with me and said ‘wow, strange girl from the internet, you’re exactly what I expected and not disappointing in the slightest.’ Of course we’ll frequently disappoint each other – before a date your partner positively shimmers with hot shag potential. He could be a perfect gentleman, a fantasy stranger, or even the love of your life. But in the cold light of reality they’re exactly the same as you – a flawed human being who is likely to snort too loudly at one of your jokes or spill beer down their tits like a bellend.

So how do we solve this problem? Well, I have an idea. I’d like to float the idea of a dating bailout.

A friend of mine used to give me a fifteen-minute bailout on any film we watched together. His taste and my taste occasionally aligned, but there were many times when one or other of us would choose something so horrifying to the other person that they couldn’t bear the idea of wasting two hours of their life on it. Hence the bailout. We’d watch the film for fifteen minutes, and if one person decided after that time that they’d rather extract their own eyeballs with a hot spoon than watch the rest, we’d switch the film for another. The key rule in all this was that as long as the bailout happened at the fifteen minute mark, no party was allowed to harbour anger or resentment about the ditch.

I’m proposing exactly the same thing for dates. We’ll call it the ‘one drink bailout.’

You meet someone in a pub, or a coffee shop, or in the bar of a posh theatre if that’s your bag, and you both know from the outset that the date might last no longer than one drink. If the person who arrives is funny, interesting, and the sort of person you might want to spend a whole evening with, you can suggest another drink, a move to somewhere more exciting, or the mutual exchange of rings and vows. But if the date – as is so frequently the case – does not work out that way, you both get a bailout. If either of you realise that the other is not as described or unfit for purpose, you may invoke your right to terminate the date with no hard feelings, recriminations, or mutterings of ‘but I came all the way from Essex, for Christ’s sake.’

The key thing to remember is that if we’re running dates on a onedrinkbailout system, both parties must individually purchase their initial drinks. I feel quite strongly about this – once one person has bought the first round you are locked into an unofficial two-round contract. I would no more let you buy an unreciprocated drink for me than I would stamp on one of your pets. And so under my new system, each person must arrive at the date knowing that their first drink is their own responsibility. Rounds are for those willing to commit beyond the bailout. Don’t worry, though – it won’t be awkward. As long as you’re both reasonably on time, one person will have a drink under way by the time the second person turns up, meaning that ‘I see you’re sorted for a drink, I’ll just go grab one‘ is natural and simple to do, with no polite faffery around the issue of who should get them in.

So, the One Drink Bailout Promise – sign up to it and make your life marginally less tedious. It means that a date becomes a more casual thing – you’re not committing to giving up a whole precious evening, you’re just committing to buying a drink and drinking it in the company of someone who might be brilliant. And you reserve your right to leave if they turn out not to be.

Think of the time saved! All those evenings you’ve spent with people who are nice-but-not-nice-enough, that could better have been spent seeing your friends, catching up on your emails, or writing that novel you’ve always meant to get round to. Suddenly you’ve gained both opportunity (the chance to go on a date in the first place, which you might previously have put off for fear that you’d end up stuck in a strange pub with a tedious arsehole) and acres and acres of time.

Is it hurtful? Well, yes. It might be hurtful for a person who really likes you to be told after one pint that they’re not going to get any further. But to be honest it’s far more hurtful to sit around with them for an entire evening, just waiting for a moment late enough that you can yawn, mention an early start, and flee into the night.

Is it unfair? It doesn’t have to be – you both have the same options, and so you both get a bailout. How delightful would it be to discover that rather than spending your whole evening worrying about the inevitable ‘goodbye’ and how to say it in a way that gently implies ‘you’re a lovely person but I shan’t be doing this – or anything else – with you again’ you can instead find out immediately that the feeling’s mutual, and both of you would prefer to sod off with no hard feelings.

I promise you – I’ve examined this plan from all possible angles, and can only conclude that there is no rational reason not to adopt it. Next time you go on a date, particularly if it’s with a strange girl from the internet who trips over things, refuses to give you her name until you meet in person, and spills unnecessary quantities of beer down the front of her top, let her know that you’re subscribed to the One Drink Bailout Promise. You’ll save yourself time, you’ll save both of us some embarrassment, and you might well make that date more likely to happen in the first place.


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