Manners Maketh a Man

As I’ve said before, my mother instilled good manners into me at an early age. That goes for dating too. I’m not just talking about “elbows off the table” and “don’t speak with your mouth full” type manners. I’m talking about consideration and respect for another person.

Women will also bend over backwards to make themselves presentable for an evening out. Men however, are a different matter. To be frank, if you turn up late, looking like an extra from Grizzly Adams, she’s going to wonder whether you could be bothered to make an effort in a relationship, and write you off before you even started.

Here are some tips for men on first date etiquette. She just might be the girl of your dreams so you’ll need to impress her. Even if she’s not, you’ll go right up in her estimations and give her hope that there are decent men out there if you put in some effort! She might even have a friend she’d introduce you to, but not if you have no manners and look like an old vagrant!

1. Send her a text in the morning along the lines of “looking forward to seeing you later”. Not essential but a nice thing to do. If nothing else at least she’ll know you’re planning on turning up!

2. Make an effort with your appearance. I’ve had a few dates with men who were smelly and dishevelled (if only HeBay had a smell-o-meter). Women invest time getting themselves ready and looking good. You need to do the same. Putting a jacket on as you leave the house is not the same as getting yourself ready. In case you’re really clueless here is what you should do:


Make sure your nails are clean and short. I work in a job that makes mine filthy and if I can manage to clean them, so can you!

Get rid of hair that shouldn’t be there. I’m talking ears and noses. It looks disgusting and if you need a Flymo to cut it, you’ve left it waaaay too long. I once spent the evening with a man whose ear hair was longer than the hair on his head. Actually he could have tied it in a knot on top  for an instant toupee!

Decide what you’re going to wear and wash your clothes. Yes, even the ones that don’t show! A sniff under the armpit or crotch of something you’ve been wearing for two months and a “that’ll do” isn’t good enough.

Clean your shoes. My mother was right, you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes! If the eyes are the windows to the soul, shoes are the windows to general cleanliness!

Just before you go out:

Have a shower. Yes I know you had one this morning/last week/three months ago but it’s time for another one! If you’re going on a date straight from work, freshen up at least and put on a clean shirt.

Shave. Three day stubble makes you look like a tramp, not a rock star! If the date goes well she might want to give you a kiss goodnight. Believe me, she won’t want to kiss you if you could sand the floor with your face!

Put on aftershave (it’s designed to make you smell nice and desirable, not to mask nasty niffs)! Oh and please don’t use Lynx, you’re not a spotty adolescent and it smells cheap and disgusting.

Put on clean clothes. No, not the ones in a ball on your bedroom floor, I mean the freshly laundered ones.

Comb your hair.

3. Don’t be late, better still get there a few minutes early. For a woman there’s nothing worse than standing round waiting for someone and looking like a lemon. If you’re stuck in traffic, call her. If she can be there on time so can you and if you can’t even manage it on a first date, it doesn’t bode well for any future ones. Unless you’ve called, my waiting time is 10 minutes and then I’m gone.

4. Attraction can take time to grow. Chances are she won’t look like Demi Moore or Sharon Stone. If she doesn’t, try not to look as though you’ve just been introduced to the Bride of Frankenstein.

5. She has a head and that’s where the talking, looking and listening comes from. You might be ok with a woman who stares at your crotch all evening but she isn’t comfortable with a man who stares at her breasts and can’t make eye contact. Keep the eyes above the neck!

6. Don’t drink too much.

7. Pay for the drinks and/or dinner. You asked her on the date, you pay! There’s nothing worse than a scuffle over the bill and if you pay it will show her you’re generous and that you may be interested in her. She’ll return the favour another time. On this note, paying for dinner doesn’t mean sex back at her place afterwards. No decent woman will have sex with a man just because he’s paid for her meal, that’s prostitution!

8. At the end of the evening, if you’re not interested or need to think about it, kiss her on the cheek and thank her for a lovely evening. DON’T tell her you’ll call. If you tell her you’ll call, she’ll think you’re interested and that’s not fair if you’re not.

9. If you’re interested, DO tell her you’ll call, and make sure you do the next day! We all know about the three day rule but let’s cut to the chase here. Men are biologically wired to pursue and women like to be pursued. The ball’s in your court and she’s not going to call you! If you’re interested, let her know…she’ll be flattered. Unless she’s Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, she’s not going to book the wedding on the basis that you called her the next day!

10. Women won’t sit by their telephones waiting for you to call. However, it’s polite and considerate to let her know if you don’t want to see her again. You should tell her by text the next day, she’ll know where she stands, and she can get on with her week with no hard feelings.  Oh and if she texts you and says she doesn’t want to see you again, just take it on the chin, it’s not the end of the world. Texting back along the lines of “fuck off then you stuck-up cow” is just nasty. She was just being polite!

Guys who have a “can’t be arsed” attitude towards dating go right down in my estimations. I really do believe that the internet dating world would be a much nicer place if people were more honest and showed more consideration and respect to each other.


2. Choosing a photograph….

Dating site advertisements are full of photographs of men looking handsome, smiley and sophisticated!  Definitely not the motley selection I have on my screen as I write this! For the most part it’s not a question of “wow, he looks nice”, more like “ah well, he looks a bit cleaner/more sober/less beardy/less like a convict than the others”.

I’m constantly amazed at the photographs men post of themselves on dating sites. I mean, this is a kind of shop window right? If you were advertising yourself in Debenhams’ window, wouldn’t you shower, put on a smart, clean outfit and brush your hair (if you have any)?

If you’re a man reading this, here’s a list of what not to show, based on pictures of men that I’ve seen.

Pictures taken on mobile phones.

1. Closeups make your nose look big and your head misshapen, a bit like looking at yourself in the back of a spoon.  It also makes you look a bit cross-eyed and shifty.

2.  Arms length pictures of you, again taken on your mobile phone. Most of the picture is of your extended arm, holding the phone and with your face in the far distance so I can’t see what you look like.

3.  Photographs of you taken in your bathroom mirror showing the loo seat up and displaying sundry ointments for places where the sun doesn’t shine. Similar photos of you in the kitchen in front of a tower of washing up and in the bedroom with your dirty washing spilling out over the floor. One reaction…..ewwwwwww!!! What are you actually looking for, the woman of your dreams or a housekeeper?  Believe me when I say that the woman of your dreams will remain…in your dreams!

NOTE: If you’ve had to take your own photographs the connotation is “this man has no friends”.

Pictures with others

4. Photographs of you with young children.  Are you completely bonkers? Why would you post photos of your kids on the internet?

5. Photos of you with your arms draped around a woman. You might think this makes you look popular and charming, but actually it makes you look like a philanderer with wandering hands. Whether it’s your beautiful ex-wife or you paid a stranger to pose with you, chop her off or find another photo!

6. Photos of you posing with a large snake draped around your torso may make you feel macho but will make me wonder how small your penis is.

7. Why on earth would you think women would be interested in a photo of you holding a large fish? Any woman who has had a relationship with a man who goes fishing knows this is a strange and all-consuming hobby for loners with poor social skills (the same goes for birdwatchers). Better to keep it to yourself at this stage.

8. Pictures of you standing in the pub with your mates, wearing a football shirt and holding up a pint will make me assume you’re an ageing lager lout, even if you have a PhD in quantum physics and are an expert in string theory.


9. Please don’t post pictures of yourself wearing women’s clothes, even if it’s your favourite negligee. I’d never date a man who looked better in a dress than I do!

10. Closeups of your tattoos (even if you’ve spelt them correctly) will not make me want to date you. For people of our generation, tattoos are not something to be proud of and usually indicate a dodgy, not bohemian, past. Tattoos listing names of ex-wives and children just show that you have a poor memory or can’t count.

11. NO!!!!! I don’t want to see you without your clothes on, even if you think you are Adonis (and to be frank you’re not are you?)! (By the way I’m an expert on Photoshop and I can tell if you’ve super-imposed your head onto someone else’s body). One other thing….a string vest and Y-fronts is not the male equivalent of a Wonder-bra and panties.

12. My pet hate….very out of date photographs! The thing is….women notice these things. We’re incredibly observant and can spot a mullet and Wall Street era braces a mile off. I really don’t need to know that you were a Wham look-alike at Club Tropicana back in the 80s (even if you’re pretending the photo was taken in the Maldives last year). I want to see what you look like now!
13. I know that’s not your Harley Davidson because I can see the photograph was taken in the showroom and you’re sitting the wrong way round.
Think carefully about what your photographs say about you. Ask a woman friend to take some photographs of you, she’ll love helping out with this.  If all else fails PAY for some decent photographs.
Generally women are looking for someone reliable, honest and truthful, amongst other things. We have a gift for analysing and reading into things, and that includes your photographs. Everything we see in your photos gives clues about your character and lifestyle and believe me, we’re looking for clues! We might be able to forgive wallpaper choices, but if there’s even a sniff of something unsavoury in your photographs it will put us off you, before we’ve even started!

1. The Secret Diary of an Internet Dater aged 53 and three quarters

I lead a full and happy life, have great friends and a loving family, I do work that I love, but sometimes, just sometimes, it would be lovely to have a man in my life.  I’ve probably watched too many ghastly Jennifer Aniston films, but I live in hope of being swept off my feet by a George Clooney look-alike who treats me like a goddess and worships me daily.

I want to be Celia Johnson in the station buffet with something in her eye,  Trevor Howard saying “let me take a look at that, I’m a Doctor”, Rachmaninov playing in the background and a steam train rushing into a tunnel.

Life can be ordinary but I want romance. It’s not too much to ask for is it?

I’m not looking for someone to whom I’m joined at the hip, I don’t want someone interfering with me when I’m trying to do pottery, wear matching zip-up cardies and go on tandem bike rides, but it would be lovely to find someone  who will chuckle at my little jokes, sample my cooking (a brave man indeed), appreciate all my quirks….. actually as I’m writing this I realise I haven’t a clue what I’m looking for….but the truth is I do miss a cuddle and it would be good to have someone to share stuff with sometimes.

I don’t really believe in a soul-mate (or sole-mate as I read on someone’s profile the other day, definitely something fishy about him or maybe he just likes feet!). I don’t believe in love at first sight either. I reckon that if you went into a room with a dozen men, the chances are you’d get on well enough with at least one of them not to want to kill him.

It’s not easy to meet people when you’re in your early fifties though. Unless you’re lucky and meet someone at the supermarket checkout or a man drops out of the sky and lands at your feet, you may find yourself, like me, in the wasteland of internet dating.

Three years ago a friend of a friend met her husband on the internet. As our mutual friend Jane put it: “It’s really easy, although you might have to kiss a few frogs first. Think of it as practice, like when you go for an interview. Ellen went out with a couple of men who weren’t very suitable and then she met Derek… he was clean, solvent and didn’t have any nasty habits”. It all sounded easy to me, although a bit like shopping on Ebay and about as romantic!

I signed up to Human Ebay, hopeful, optimistic  but definitely not desperate. Three years later I’m still there, aged 53 and still single, a little cynical but hopefully a little wiser.

If you’re a woman reading this, I thought I’d share my dating experiences, not because I’m qualified to dispense advice (far from it as you’ll see) but, if nothing else, it will give you a really good laugh and many of you will empathise I’m sure.

If you’re a man reading this, you may or may not recognise yourself! I’ve changed some names to protect the idiots, but not all (depends on where you are on the W**ker Scale)!  I’d just like to say here that I don’t believe that all men are W**kers. I’ve actually met some really lovely guys, some of whom have become good friends and who are not in the least bit W**kery. For some reason though, there are a lot of strange men on dating sites in my experience. Maybe that’s why they’re single!

Having taken the plunge and decided to put myself on Human Ebay, I was faced with my first challenge – my User Name. Should I use my real name (too risky – someone at work might see it, worse – my soon-to-be-ex husband might see it and would laugh) or make up something interesting?

I decided to make up something interesting – but what? Do user names really matter? I thought it would be nice to choose a name that reflects my character. Something that shows that I’m witty, intellectual, independent.  How on earth does one do that with a name? Will anyone care anyway?

I mean if I chose something like Sexy Babe, (1) I don’t really know if I am (it’s been a while) and (2) it’s a lot to live up to on a first date.

Ok, how about something more homely? Something that will show that I’m not averse to any physical contact, but I’m not going to have rampant sex on the pavement outside the George & Dragon  two minutes after meeting.  Something like Cuddles4U perhaps?  No, sounds like I’m motherly, smell of wee and have a lot of cats.

What about something like The_1_4_U?   Hmmm, sounds a little desperate, I don’t want anyone to think they’re dating Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, and I saw something with a similar name in Lakeland Plastics for getting stubborn stains out.

An hour of contemplating later I decided maybe I’d just use my name, Ruth.  Easier said than done.  Ruth had already been taken and I was given the option of using Ruth1286759; can there really be that many Ruths out there? I’d never remember it (I’m thinking of having my bank pin number tattooed on my wrist) so I decided to be clever and combine my first and middle name, Barbara.

Yet another hour later, filling in all my other personal details, I clicked the button confirming my membership, realising, too late, that I had created someone called Rubarb.

Now you might think that that would be the end of it, but I was then faced with the prospect of writing my profile. Up to 2,000 characters “describing yourself, your interests and your ideal first date”.

Hmmm 2000 words….practically a dissertation and nearly as stressful! Now I’ve thought long and hard about writing my profile. Apart from my photograph (and more about that later) it’s my chance to show all those lovely men out there what a witty raconteur I am.

I decided to put off writing anything on mine until I’d had a look at what other people had written.  Since I couldn’t access other women’s details, I bravely clicked on the first of many men’s profiles…….

Perhaps it shows lack of imagination, but for a first date it seems that hundreds of men enjoy “cuddling on the sofa with a glass of wine and a dvd”. Now I’m sorry lads, I can do that with the dog, and I’d cheerfully swap the cuddle for a bar of Galaxy.  If I’m going to endure an hour having my face threaded and my legs waxed beforehand, I expect more from a date than an evening on a saggy sofa with a glass of vino collapso and the World Rugby Highlights.  Apart from anything, I like to get to know someone a bit better before I go on their sofa!

Others have written that they find sharing a bag of chips romantic. Not on your nelly! I might share chips with a man at a later date but until I know  that he always washes his hands when he’s been to the loo, there’s no way he is sticking his fingers into my bag of chips! Aside from which, who told him that it’s romantic to share a bag of chips on a first date? Why did he believe them?

On Human Ebay there’s an option to click on “what you’re looking for”. There’s nothing along the lines of “Let’s see how it goes shall we?”  The choices are Long Term (hmmm, Fatal Attraction again), Activity Partner (um….what kind of activity? ), Intimate Encounter (ah, the last one obviously means sport of some kind, definitely not ticking that one. What’s this intimate encounter though? Would any woman in her right mind admit this unless she was touting for business at Ipswich Docks?), Hang Out (What does that mean exactly? Isn’t that what teenagers do in bus shelters? Would I need to turn up with 10 B&H and a pack of Haribos?) The last category was Dating (that’s what I put, seemed the most reasonable given that I didn’t fit any of the other categories and hopefully it would cover all eventualities).

It also suggests “If you want to be successful and not waste your time do this: 1. Talk about your hobbies. 2. Talk about your goals/aspirations 3. Talk about yourself and what makes you unique. 4. Your taste in music.”

  1. Hobbies? What hobbies?  Extreme knitting? Bungee jumping? Aha, reading the classics (but someone might test me on it and they’ll know I’ve only read the back cover of Northanger Abbey). Will anyone be impressed that I like Sudoku? Does walking the dog once a week count as sport?
  2. Goals and aspirations – Climbing Kilimanjaro? reaching the second level of Nintendo Brain Training? At the moment, writing my profile!
  3. What makes me unique? Perhaps my penchant for peanut butter and marmite on toast, the fact that I loathe housework and cooking with a passion?
  4. Music – is it cool to like Girls Aloud and Dusty Springfield?

Ok job done (no I’m not going to show you my profile, you might go peeking). More to come…..