Lonely? Not really lying when you tell friends you're washing your hair tonight? Got nothing on your bedside table but a well-thumbed copy of the TV guide with all your favourite programmes circled? I hear you. Isn't it time you met somebody?
As we all know, single people are doomed to a life of ready meals for one, exorbitant surcharges on hotel rooms in Benidorm and the inability to argue in supermarkets, so, in the first of an occasional series, here's how and where to meet men. As simple as that. Our first location? The workplace. Yes, really.
The old adage goes you should never mix business with pleasure, but whoever originated that dreary phrase had clearly never gone for a milkshake with Deirdre from the reception desk. There's plenty of pleasure in the workplace.
Tight polyester trousers straining over buns of steel, honed by endless hours utilising that free gym membership for all employees. Stolen glances in the office kitchen as you find common ground over the microwave being broken again or someone eating your yoghurt or leaving a mouldy cup out on the worktop. Not to mention being pressed up against each other in a packed elevator every morning, wondering if your outstretched finger is actually going to select your floor or merely press into the right pectoral of the buff intern who knows all the capital cities of the world backwards.
They say that having a relationship with someone at work can compromise your professionalism and make things difficult, but, honestly, everything is difficult anyway. Awkwardness reigns supreme in every corner of our lives, from getting too drunk at your cousin's 21st birthday party to becoming stuck in a revolving door at your local shopping centre. Why stop there? If anything, getting involved with someone from work will make you work even harder at your relationship, so you can avoid the mortifying silences in meetings and evil glares across a crowded, musty-smelling, open plan, carpeted gladiatorial arena.
If you've got your eye on someone at work, you've got to act fast, because guess what? Every other sad singleton in the office desperate to avoid tonight's appointment with a bottle of Head & Shoulders is checking them out too. Don't think that their sexual orientation makes them safe from others. Every gay or straight who's ever seriously considered hiring somebody to be their +1 at a wedding will be ready, willing and panting to do what it takes to snare the object of your desire. Strange things can happen on a 'quick drink after work'; make sure you're there to catch the fallout.
The trick to snagging a workplace romance is not to go for the obvious. Oh, yes, the hot new guy with skin like silk and eyes which shine like diamonds is a real treat, but everybody is going to want to get their molars into this stud. The cheat here is to turn your attentions elsewhere while theirs are so marvellously distracted by this fresh hunk of meat on the grill. Who was getting all the attention a few months ago? Who might need the odd compliment or two now? Seek out anyone who may have slipped under the radar.
What about Ken from accounts? I know, but think big - outside that box or whatever it is they're on about in those meetings you're always half-asleep in. Sure, he has egg stains on his tie (let's hope that is actually egg) and his personal grooming may be on a par with Stig of the Dump, but clothes can be laundered and, as you know only too well, hair can be washed. You can wash it for him! In the bath! Together! Just before you have sex (not after).
Pros of a workplace romance:
- Myriad kinky places to have sex, with oodles of flat surfaces. The boardroom! The hot basement where the server is kept. Your boss's desk. Your boss's desk while she's actually sitting there. Your boss's desk, with your boss joining in! And of course, the traditional stationery cupboard knee-trembler.
- You can keep an eye on them all day and either feed or starve your insane jealousy. Depends on which way you look at it.
- You'll never need to scrabble for a date for the Christmas party again.
- You can bitch about your colleagues from the comfort of your very own Ikea bed.
- Think how much it would irritate your workmates. Worth it for that alone.
- If they phone in sick, you'll get asked about them all day long. "Oh, how is he?" And you won't be able to tell the truth - that he's got a hangover and is clamped to the toilet spraying orange diarrhoea.
- If they leave to get another job, you'll never be sure they're not going to pick up another workplace distraction.
- They'll be there, all day, every day. In the kitchen. In the lift. Opposite your desk. In your bed. Arguing with you in the supermarket.
- Someone hotter might start working there the week after. You won't be able to lie about being single when you're trapped in the stationery cupboard together.
- It's just a really, really terrible idea, isn't it? Maybe try online dating instead.