Via a reader on Twitter, this:
I’ve had so many bad dates in the last five years I thought I’d rather set my hair alight than meet another stranger for a disappointing drink.
This reminds me of something an Elmore Leonard character once said:
“If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.”
It never seems to occur to these women who’ve had hundreds of terrible dates that they might be the problem. So what’s this particular woman going to do instead?
But it’s Friday night and I’m with a gang of women buzzing around East London hitting on hotties IRL and I’m conscious I’ve not had such a fun night out in months. Sure it feels mad to be striding up to a man in a blazer to tell him ‘you look hot in that’ (which he does – in more ways than one) but it beats the hell out of messaging some chap on an app for the umpteenth time who never replies at all.
She’s basically formed a hen party, only nobody’s getting married.
Going Renegade, for the uninitiated, is a new dating movement led by dating guru Hayley Quinn, designed to help us wrest back control from the dating apps that oppress us and meeting men we fancy IRL.
Dating apps, even oppressive ones, do nothing to stop people meeting each other in real life. What might be preventing you finding offline love, however, is your age, your looks, your expectations, your personality, your morals, the decisions you’ve made in the past and what you think of those decisions now.
It helps that we’re several bottles of prosecco down and have one to one support from Hayley’s three-strong team of male dating coaches.
I should have added degree of self-respect to the list above.
We’ve undergone an hour-long crash course in chat up lines and the importance of VEP – ‘visibility, eye contact, proximity’. We’re single and we’re mingling. We’re learning to identify the men who are interested in us and we aren’t waiting for them to make the first move.
So basically, pickup-artistry for women.
Hayley explains that – thanks to so much bogus dating wisdom – while men get to play ‘The Game’ women feel bullied into following ‘The Rules.’ And that’s just ridiculous, outdated, un-feminist nonsense, according to her.
Yes, the reason modern women can’t form stable relationships is because they’re too traditional. Uh-huh.
In fact, her first act in what is essentially a three-day dating bootcamp, is to insist that we are complete in and of ourselves. ‘Women are repeatedly shamed for being single,’ she explains. ‘But the first thing to remember is – you don’t need a man to make you whole.
So the bootcamp starts off by telling participants they don’t really need to be there, adding to any existing delusions. There may be better ways to spend £897.
This is primarily about making dating what it should be – fun. It’s about rediscovering your playful side.’
A red flag for men looking for a partner is any suggestion a woman “likes to have fun”. Every social group at university includes a girl who is a lot of fun to be around, comes down the pub to watch the rugby, and gets drunk a lot. While she may experience no problem getting laid and have plenty of male friends who genuinely like her company, nobody actually wants to date her. There’s a reason for this, and lest you think I’m being sexist, how many women would be impressed by a single man over 30 who talks about “discovering his playful side”? These women need to grow up, not stay stranded in adolescence.
Men, she insists, are just as shy as we are about making an approach when they fancy us and it is ‘empowering’- not embarrassing – to make the first move.
I thought the common complaint among modern women was that men are overflowing with toxic masculinity and won’t take no for an answer?
‘How will anything ever happen if you see a cute guy and then stare at your phone or your shoes?’ she demands.
Or you could try acting normally.
We spend Saturday in Soho – hitting on men in broad daylight, stone cold sober.
There are videos of women experimenting with this approach on YouTube. Most men assume she’s pulling some kind of scam or she’s a hooker. The ones that don’t look as though they’ve not spoken to a woman in years.
On the Sunday, at the Going Renegade HQ near Hackney Central, we work on our flirting techniques. Hayley’s top trick is to ask men to take photographs of you for Instagram. ‘This is the go-first principle whereby offering information about yourself works as a useful prompt to get him to ask you out,’ she says. ‘If you give him your Instagram information, that could lead to a follow and a date.’
Giving out social media information to complete strangers? What could possibly go wrong?
Hayley’s advice is particularly illuminating when it comes to that handsome stranger you lock eyes with on the tube. When this happens she recommends ‘making a kerfuffle’ – pulling things out of your bag or dropping a book at his feet. When he notices, you then follow up with a friendly, open-ended observation before introducing yourself.
The problem with this is, unlike men you meet on a dating site, there is a good chance the handsome stranger is simply going about his business and isn’t looking for a relationship, let alone one with a stranger he’s met on the tube. Aren’t women forever complaining about men harassing them on the public transport, trying to get their number? Bit of a double-standard there, no? I expect the only thing that would come from such an approach is a lot of embarrassing rejections along the lines of “sorry, I’m seeing someone” and blokes who snap up the chance of an easy lay.
‘You have to give a man time to realise that you really are chatting him up,’ Hayley teaches. ‘We’ve been so well trained in “stranger danger” since we were at school it’ll take him a few minutes to catch up with what’s going on and be able to respond in kind. Be sure to exchange names because that’s very powerful.’
Years of feminists branding all men as dangerous sex-pests have resulted in the criminalisation of ordinary male courtship behaviour. Men have taken note, are giving women a wide berth, and now women have to come up with weird and humiliating methods of getting their attention. Girl power!
Initially, I was very sceptical. Also incredibly nervous. But if you’re courageous enough to try them, Hayley’s techniques certainly work. On the journey home, one member of our group, Poonam, struck up a conversation with a man who’d just run the London marathon. She asked for his email so she could contribute to his JustGiving fund. And several hours later he emailed back – asking her out to dinner.
Right, but your problem wasn’t that you lovely lasses couldn’t get dates, but that they were terrible. Does meeting a man on the way home, even one who’s run the London marathon, give you a better chance of avoiding bad dates than online dating? Not for the first time in articles like this, the conclusion brings us back to where we started. So what’s the point of it? Ah, of course:
Bad Romance by Emily Hill is available to buy in Hardback now.
There’s a book to flog; I might have known.