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Thankfully I already had a get-out clause in the form of a friend’s birthday party. “This [dramatic pause], is Matt” she beamed, handing him over the way a proud cat presents its owner with a vole. After three hours chatting (and a bit of snogging to the sound of someone else’s dodgy karaoke), we swapped numbers.He was actually really sweet: Kind, friendly, interested, really into his food. When the most exciting part of your date is the argument you have with the (hot) bartender about whether Pimm’s is a gin- or cognac-based spirit (it’s gin, FYI, and I won the argument), you know it’s not a match made in heaven. My date (a stand-up comic my friend had set me up with) bailed an hour before we were due to meet. He texted two days later and I’m seeing him next week for date #15! Enjoying a romantic dinner out, wined, dined and presented with flowers and chocolates from the one you love?

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There were bells and buzzers and men shifting seats every minute like musical chairs. I was instantly ushered onto the ‘love couch’ [VOMIT] for a mini-consultation with Marcia, who’s running the show. Our mutual friend had warned him about my challenge, and he wasn’t phased. “I’m really sorry but I’ve got to go to xxx” should suffice, or “I totally forgot I had xxxx.” Do not waver. She asks me a lot of questions - in depth stuff about my family, my upbringing, my core values, my past relationships and how I see my future ones.If I was one of her clients, she’d do this and two other meetings before even thinking about setting up a date. Chat flowed easily, neither of us looked at our watches until nearly 10pm when, starving, we decamped to a tiny Italian restaurant down the road.In taking this date, I’d also gone against one of my firm rules of correspondence: never date a dude that uses emojis. I was working out my exit strategy while my date was in the loo, when a tall Jason Statham-alike in a slightly shiny suit slinked over from the bar.We did our best, making stilted chit-chat, racing through the first drink into the second. “You look like you’re having a really awful first date. I gave it one more drink, then made my excuses to my wholly non-surprised acutal date.When I first started this challenge, my biggest fear was that I’d struggle to meet real guys (ie not randoms from Tinder).

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