Dating used to be very simple: you meet a series of near-strangers for an awkward drink in a pub that's always too noisy/busy/rough/far away from a Tube station, decide whether you like them or not and if so do it all over again in a nicer venue and perhaps with food. And then you get married.
Now that everybody has the attention span of a gnat and is swiping left and right on their iPhones without so much as a thought for the kingdoms of emotions they're quashing, dating has decided it needs a donk on it. Suggest a drink in a pub to a suitor now and they will think you incredibly old-hat and old-fashioned - unless your chosen watering hole used to be a toilet or an astronaut's helmet or a nuclear bunker. "Let's go potholing/on a cocktail-making class/sketching/knitting/swing dancing/ice skating" trills this person you have NEVER met before, in an effort to look exciting. And that's fine.
But one date you shouldn't go on? Running. Or any fitness. But especially running. And it is a thing. A guy once asked me out for a running date and I read an execrable magazine column where one of the guys on a date wanted to go running. So it's officially a thing. And here's why you shouldn't do it.
I don't know much about anything, but I do know that a good date has to have good conversation. Topics to talk about can be hard enough to come up with as it is.
Should you veer into political debate or keep the intellectual level at 'Heat reader coming round after mild head trauma'? Should you talk a lot or spend most of your time nodding and listening enigmatically, like the Mona Lisa dangling from a set of deelyboppers?
Throw into the mix the breathlessness, huffing and puffing and gasping you're likely to encounter while running and you may as well try to give a thank you speech midway through an asthma attack.
You won't be able to talk to each other about anything, because you will be concentrating so hard on not seeming too out of breath so you won't look perilously unfit and unattractive.
There's something to be said for the attractiveness of perspiration. In its mildest incarnation, taking centre-stage in a Diet Coke ad or an Eric Prydz video, sweating can be sexy, true. But some people sweat more than others. What if some of your running date's sweat gets on you? How hot for them will you feel as you watch them wring out that wristband at a pedestrian crossing for the fourth time? Save your sweating for between the sheets.
When I run, something happens to me. And I don't mean the gentle erosion of my pot-belly and firming of my thighs. It's my face. It goes red. And not just a gentle faint glow of a red, but full-on grilled tomato, "oh my goodness have you just scalded your entire head", bright huge beacon of ROUGE that can be seen from space.
And then all the muscles in your face kind of fall to the floor and you look like a roasted pepper that someone forgot to stuff. And don't forget that you're sweating. Red and wet. Congratulations: you're a towel that someone left in the changing room at the public swimming pool.
Getting ready for a date can be a trial when it comes to deciding what to wear. I usually opt for a kind of borderline dull or 'sexy-boring' - clothes that won't shout too much but also won't make me fade away like a cotton-clad chameleon. Fitness gear though, well, that is a whole different area.
Do you dress like a 'don't care' runner, in baggy old T-shirt and 'whatever' shorts with rugby socks and battered old trainers? (The 'don't care' look is always the most calculated of all, but don't tell anybody that you know this because we're all just pretending to be someone else really, aren't we?)
Do you buy all the latest gear and step out in sparkling spandex, a taut and fun-free love letter to neon? Maybe you plump for polished retro and relieve American Apparel of everything on their shelves so you look like an extra from Napoleon Dynamite?
Thinking about this for too long will make your head fall off and there is nothing you can do that is right. Whatever you choose to wear running will be wrong. Guaranteed.
Either: Your date will have more energy and be fitter than you. Or: Your date will resent you for being fitter and having more energy and will embarrass themselves by trying to keep up or outdo you. You are basically reserving yourself quite a few angrily scrawled pages in their diary or furiously typed entries on their dreary dating blog.
So, no, don't. Say no to running dates. Unless you're running to a pub.
I have a new column in GT where I very carefully go through all the men you should never date. I also try to help with readers' dilemmas and dole out relationship advice. Take a look at the Gay Times website to see when the next issue is out. To submit a dilemma for me to help with, get in touch.
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