I decided at the start of this year that I might like to try the whole dating thing. I toyed with the idea of opening an account on a dating site... and then just sort of procrastinated a bit.
And then the people at Just Singles, as if having read my mind, asked me if I'd like to take part in their #3Dates3Mths challenge. At first I was horrified at the thought of having to go on 3 dates: I would have to actually get off my bum and go and meet men. Then I realised that actually, doing something like this, where people are sitting there, tapping their feet and waiting for a blog post about it, would mean I had to actually get up off my bum and go and meet men. No more procrastinating. So I said yes. And began to panic.
I had been reading The Surrendered Single because its author, Laura Doyle was a speaker at a conference I had the recordings to, and she sounded interesting. Some of the stuff she says is pure bonkers (more on that in a different post) but one thing she says makes a lot of sense: she suggests that if you're single and looking to attract one of them there men, you should make eye contact with, and smile at, every man you meet. Even if you're not interested in them you should do this, just to get into the habit of doing it.
I didn't really want to be known as "that bonkers woman who smiles like a loon" so I decided to water it down a little, and not smile at every man I met; that would be a bit odd. But realistically, there is a lot to be said for just smiling and being friendly - with men and with women, even if you're not single, not looking for a date, and not doing it for a blog post.
It's really nerve-racking to start with; you imagine that people must be giving you sideways looks thinking, what the *** is up with this woman. Actually, they mostly just smile back. Some even say "good morning" or comment on the weather. Actually, just to smile at a stranger and say "hi" can do wonders for your mood. And hopefully for theirs too.
I find this sort of thing about a million times easier when I have an impossibly cute toddler in tow. Even though she doesn't speak to anyone, she looks cute so people do that whole "aw your kid is cute" thing. On my own, it took a lot of getting used to, what with being horribly shy and inhibited. I tend to think of it in terms of just being more friendly and sociable, than actively looking for a nice man to go on a date with. I smile at whoever doesn't look like they would either take offence or become creepy.
But what about the date?! I hear you cry... Well, nobody came running up to me in the street to exclaim, "I really loved the way you smiled at me; let me take you out to dinner!" but I did give my number to a rather lovely man in M&S the other day. I see him all the time (M&S is the closest food shop to home so I end up going in there for forgotten bits all the time), but had never really chatted. With this whole "making an effort to be sociable" thing, I did chat to him a little and found that actually, he's very nice. And the other day, when S was wound up like a Tasmanian devil on a sugar high as I queued to pay for our milk and Quavers, he took her hat off and made a puppet out of it. I'm not sure he would have done that if we hadn't at least said hello to each other before. So I'm counting it as a win... and we're going out for coffee this week.