Screenshot_20170604-161802This week a man asked me if I’d consider dating an alternative guy.

“I’m into anything that involves a woman’s bum in a big way,” he said. “No limits in that area really. I like it filthy. Toys. Shit everywhere.”

When he said alternative, I thought he meant piercings and a penchant for mosh pits, perhaps an ill-advised tattoo of the Stone Roses on his knuckles. But these days alternative means defecating on a stranger’s penis and spending the evening with a plastic dinosaur wedged up your arse.

I’ve written a lot about my previous dating escapades. Men who take gym selfies, refuse to eat any food, refer to themselves as ‘the D-Man’ in third person, can’t construct a basic sentence and repeatedly self-congratulate themselves with LOL every time they make a joke. But the hardest part about dating isn’t the dullards or the weirdos. (Men who want to lick your feet make great novel fodder.) The biggest challenge is dealing with bad behaviour. From the general dishonesty to treating the whole process like it’s grocery shopping list, online apps are managing to dehumanise dating. (After a few weeks of chatting, someone cancelled on me recently an hour before a date because I mentioned that I didn’t like water sports.)

Technology hasn’t made people shittier, but it’s made it easier to be shitty and not feel bad about it. Ghosting, benching and muting have become common practice- because nobody can bring themselves to politely tell the person that actually, they don’t fancy them that much after all.  And sure, you don’t owe someone your first born because you don’t want another date, but a bit of communication is old-fashioned good manners. If you’d apologise to a total stranger for treading on their foot, you can send someone a text message after dinner. Kind yet efficient – like the paediatric nurse of the dating empire.

Dating is a brutal business. You get a tiny window of time to impress and if you fuck up, say the wrong thing or they don’t like your collection of dried satsumas, it’s game over. (Examples of my previous mistakes include being too abrupt, not enthusiastic enough, too enthusiastic, too sweary, too abrasive, not keen enough and too keen. Life’s tough when you’re a cynical romantic.)

Several years ago, I was a bit nervous before a date with someone I really fancied and accidentally got drunk. After spending 10 minutes getting ‘fresh air’ and threatening to vomit six cocktails down his shirt, it’s safe to say I was less attractive than a sedated colonoscopy patient. Getting drunk is an occupational hazard for someone who doesn’t weigh enough to give blood. One second I’m being all cool and funny and flipping my long blonde hair like a magical sex unicorn. Two minutes later I’m dribbling wine down my chin and telling them about the time I got stoned after three bites of a hash cookie, text everyone on my phone to tell them I was going to die and spent the next four hours naked on a hostel bathroom floor with my head in a bucket. Or I’ll end up doing something even more terrible, like being vulnerable. In the early stages of dating, vulnerability and/or emoting in any way is about as sexy as asking someone to shit on your penis.

Recently, I tried to tell a man who was a bit hot and cold that I wanted to take things slowly and get to know him. The (slightly drunken) execution was less cool and breezy and more ‘please don’t cut up my heart into tiny pieces and feed them to London’s urban fox population’. Despite announcing his desire to see me again, he disappeared sharpish after I got in touch to thank him for dinner. (This idiocy lost me more dates with a guy who made me laugh. Fail.)

So mistakes happen and dates rarely turn into more- but our process to rejection is less evolved than a chimpanzee’s. If someone decides they’re not keen on me and don’t want to go out again, it’s 100% their prerogative. I’ve done it dozens of times to other people and I’m not going to cry about it. Sure, it’s disappointing to find out someone you like would rather be watching a documentary on slug reproduction than spend another evening in your company. But it’s a thousand times better to be told, rather than feeling like you’re not worth a response.

You don’t need to give specifics- nobody wants to know that you think they look like Uncle Fester or their penis smells like a small badger crawled into their boxers and died. But unless you’ve flashed your ISIS membership card or shown him photos of your last boyfriend’s corpse, responding is just the kind thing to do. (FYI boys: we’ll just say thanks for getting back and good luck with all your future endeavours- we’re not going to be cross because you don’t like us that much.)

And on that note, I’m off to politely decline a drinks invite from a man who wants to take a dump on my pristine white bedsheets. I’m just not that into poo.