Wow, that went well. You're positively glowing, aren't you? A first date has never played out so smoothly; absolutely nothing went wrong. An ideal venue, nary a break in the conversation, plus a bright smile and a promise to do it again at the very end. And then a cherry on top: an affectionate kiss on the cheek and a warm hug to send you on your way. Could this be it? The one? You don't know. Maybe. You hope so. Excellent. On the bus home, you beam as widely as you dare allow yourself without making your fellow passengers want to switch seats. You can't wait for round two.
Tough. You're never going to see him again.
The phone doesn't ring. No text comes through. Your inbox remains desolate, forgotten. You wonder if the date happened at all. Was it all a dream? Did he die? Has he been kidnapped? No. He just doesn't want to see you. He lied. But why? What did you do? Cast your mind back. Anything sounding familiar?
You blew your horn
Nothing wrong with being proud of your achievements. Aeroplanes don't guide themselves safely onto runways using lights secreted in bushels, true, but there's a time and a place to trot out your résumé.
Everyone deserves their time to shine, but maybe a lower wattage is advisable on a first date. Ticking off a list of your personal and professional wins might seem like a good idea - success is sexy, after all - but nobody loves a show-off.
Dating rules are terribly boring and generally for people who would struggle in social situations anyway, but if there's one that's worth adhering to, it's retaining that 'air of mystery'. Did you feel so comfortable that you were opening up about anything and everything? Does he really need to know you had a difficult relationship with your mother as a teenager or that your father was more at home in the pub than helping you with your long division? Uh-oh.
Have you put him off by leaving him nothing else to discover about you? You've shrunk your life from a gripping 26-episode box-set into a throwaway 25-minute pilot episode that has no hope of being commissioned. In fact, if you mentioned your parents even in passing then you've said too much. Don't bother memorising his phone number; you're not going to need it again.
Disappointed dates tend to behave in one of two ways. Either they'll immediately let you know that you're not what they were expecting - perhaps the colour will drain from their face or they'll back away from you screaming - or they will very skilfully try to compensate for the fact you're not quite up to scratch. The demonstrative type can be painful to deal with, but you know where you are with them - the compensators lull you in a false sense of 'I may get some sex this evening' security.
In an effort to let you down gently, the compensator will dig out his best acting skills and, to his credit but your eternal confusion, actually be nicer to you than a normal date would be. Did he listen really intently and seem hugely interested in everything you had to say? Even that 10-minute diatribe about your local supermarket running out of avocados? Hmm. Did he laugh loudly at your jokes? All of them? Even the ones you pilfered from the least funny person on Twitter? He's a compensator. He's trying to be nice. He's decided that since you're both here anyway and awkward silences make any date seem twice as long and five times as excruciating, he's just going to go with it. He's a good guy. But you are never going to see this guy naked. You should have feigned tiredness after drink three and made a dignified exit.
If none of the above rings a bell, consider this quick checklist of 'never again' enablers: you drank too much; you tried to 'do sexy'; you were late; you talked politics; you kept absent-mindedly tweaking your own nipples; you talked about your ex; you sympathised with an unpopular reality TV contestant; you admitted to watching reality TV; you lied about your height/age/job/inside leg measurement.
If you're still none the wiser, console yourself with the default reason, the one I always run to when the phone falls silent: you were just too hot and fantastic for him and he knew he'd never be able to keep up with you, so is letting you go now, into the arms of the one who truly deserves you. There, all better now.
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