Date My Mate: Christian dating done good. Are you single? Love loving the Lord? Do you have a friend of the opposite sex who you don’t secretly fancy, but know he/she would be a great catch for someone else? Then this event is for you….
I first heard about Date My Mate through my flatmate several months ago. She’d been to the first of this type of event the evening before and had asked if I’d gone too. I was a little deflated that a Christian singles event had come and gone without my knowing about it, and so I did the modern thing and ‘liked’ its Facebook page in order to prevent news of future events escaping me again. Then, finally, several weeks ago the next Date My Mate schedule was set… I grabbed myself a mate, waited out the lead up and last Thursday off I went.
I was more excited about the event during the days leading up to it than on the actual day. I woke up last Thursday with a sense of, well, dread, to be honest. Conversing in the kitchen that morning with my flatmate who was also going, my fears were further compounded when she reported in more details the unravelling’s of the previous event. It was packed – you couldn’t move and so it was not conducive to meeting anyone. It was a meat market. The guys didn’t want to be there; they simply came as a favour to their female counter-parts.
Hmpf, this was exactly what I didn’t want to hear. A number of years ago I tried my luck at Christian speed dating. And then some months later I tried it again. The first time was ok, although the one guy I thought might be alright I side-lined due to another possible romantic interest at the time (really, why did I go?). The second time around, I met many of the guys I’d met the first time. On both occasions at least half of the guys reported that they weren’t really there on their own accord, but that their friend had organised the event and begged them to come due to a (severe) shortage of men. It was a good way to end a conversation (and ward off any inclination to hold future conversations in another setting).
In true female form, I put considerable thought into my glad rags. Nice, but not too nice. Feminine, but not too girly-girl. Nothing that is too warm (lots of people equals lots of heat), but at the same time one doesn’t want to expose too much skin. I got nowhere very quickly with this pattern. Scratching my head, I texted a friend for emergency fashion input and managed to reduce my wardrobe possibilities to two winning numbers: a black, just-above-the-knee skirt boasting of a bit of flair (diagonal pocket and a silk triangle feature on the front), and a simple fitted pink tee. With my heels on and my hair straightened I was on my way.
After exiting the car with a friend I’d shared a lift with, I silently gaged my own nervousness. I decided it wasn’t too bad; I’d managed to cull any excessive anxiety by telling myself that I was simply here for research purposes. I needed to observe the goings-on so that I could write about it and keep other Christian populace informed should they venture this way in future. Though I knew my expectations were greater than this, it did help me maintain a reasonable level of calmness.
Nearing closer to the building, the bar could have passed for a hip Friday night location to any unaware passer’s-by (except, of course, that it wasn’t Friday). The music was pulsating from the inside out and preparations for entry (find your mate of the opposite sex) were being made by many a single-goers on the footpath. I found my mate, then introduced my flatmate to her male-counterpart for the evening (a necessary wangling to get them entry – a blind date my mate, as it was). There was nothing left now but to head into the crowd in doors.
Upon entering the bar, one of the first thoughts I had was: how can I possibly meet a decent portion of these guys? there are just too many. On the other hand, when was the last time I could actually say “too many” after referring to guys? Bustling through the crowd we made our way to the bar ahead. My mate kindly shouted me a beverage and now with a glass of Pinot Gris in hand, it was time to circulate.
Therein lay a rather sizable problem in itself though: the room was densely packed. It felt like being a piece of lettuce in a club sandwich with an assortment of other garden delights packed solid and deep on either side (on the topic of sandwiches, as one guy suggested, a picnic might have been a sound alternative to the arrangement we found ourselves in). It occurred to me at that moment that it wouldn’t have mattered what I wore, no one could see me from the neck down at any rate. To find someone (I know, probably could have gone for a better choice of words), I either had to elbow my way through the masses or toddle around the perimeter of the room where it was a little less populated. It turns out there is only so much saying “excuse me” you can do before you feel like you’ve become a threat to other people’s comfort, I discovered.
Not to sound further down on the event, I do have to mention one other hindrance that I could not escape from during the course of the evening: I had to practically yell to be heard. Twenty minutes into my first chat with a guy, my voice started cutting out mid-sentence. I was then faced with repeating myself if I wanted to keep the recipient believing I was capable of a half decent conversation. Small sips of my drink provided some temporary belief, but two hours later I was quite sure I would have no vocal ability the following day (which would have made using my voice to phone in sick to work the next day rather problematic).
In between conversations, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was the only person moving more than a few feet away in effort to cultivate chats with other attendees. It’s that whole moment of thinking am I doing this right? In passing the male friend I had arrived with, I had to point out to him that he had (at minimum) one big advantage: he was at least a head taller than almost everyone else present. Not that this is about physical discovery (although a little eye candy never hurt anyone), but certainly he had a better idea of where he was going. I, on the other hand, might as well have been blind folded when moving from one spot to another; it was very much a case of lucky dip.
One of the best things about this event was that, once you did find someone new to chat with, there was no stigma attached to starting a conversation with someone of the opposite sex. In fact if you couldn’t manage this, you probably wouldn’t have gone there in the first place. I was expected to be single, and I was clearly looking given my presence there. And, in real everyday life, it would be nice if it was always that simple though it seldom is. Even within the four walls of the church, there is this idea that if you are female and you go out with coffee someone, it is because you want to marry them (personally, if I was going to propose to a man, it wouldn’t be over coffee in some bustling café). The fact that Christians struggle to do dating well - or even to do dating at all - was a topic I discussed with a couple of the guys I met. There was unanimous agreement that things needed to improve in this area within church circles.
By the time I left at around 11pm, I’d met probably close to ten guys. The thing that I liked most about the evening was that my fear of there being no men left was dramatically downsized. Also, there really are some good men out there. One guy I spoke with was also a blogger; he blogs on the subject of cricket and apparently has quite a following. Naturally, I had to tell him about my own blog site, and because of the nature of the event (singleton gathering) I didn’t mind sharing that it was mainly written with single Christian women in mind. He knew where I was coming from.
Other memorable points about the evening: I’m pretty sure I got spat on when I was near the bar at one stage. I don’t know what else it could have been, it wasn’t a kind of dribble of liquid that might suggest someone got a bit over-expressive with their hand gestures and slopped a little beverage my way, rather, it came at the side of my face with such force I wondered if it had been blown through a straw. Perhaps someone was trying to sabotage my chances with some guy at the bar; go figure.
Second on the list of memorable points was that I left with my flatmate’s mate, and by that I mean there are no rules and no offences (of course, if my flatmate had fancied him, oblivion to the rules may have been a hindrance in the long run and not a help). And, in case you are wondering, we did not go for a romantic stroll down Mission Bay; we kept it classy and nipped into McCafe for a late night hot chocolate and a good chat to boot.
About the days to follow: I would strongly recommend to anyone who goes that you contact people fairly soon after the event. I don’t say this because I’ve seen the opposite done and its turned out badly, I say it because you might as well utilise some of the momentum straight afterwards. And also because waiting can breed over-analysis, so why do it? I also suggest that, if someone asks you and you aren’t really convinced that they could be a match for you, that you put the effort in and go out with them anyway. I’m personally not a big believer in first impressions, if I’m to be honest. It can take me a while to really ‘notice’ a guy; if it’s like this for me, then it might be like this for others also.
Now, in case you are wondering what came of this for me, well, that would be a whole other blog :P
This event was held in February 2013. Blog posted several weeks afterwards