Seven things I have learnt from dating under the 10pm curfew

The 10pm curfew can stick around if it makes getting out of awkward dates that much easier

A combination of several bottles of wine, mounting pressure from my housemates, and complete boredom led me to download Hinge. I had heard Hinge is the sophisticated version of Tinder; a dating app designed for people other than fuck boys who go to Pryzm every Saturday night.

Around the same time, Boris Johnson called for all pubs, bars and restaurants to close before 10pm. Since then, I have been navigating through the maze of online dating in Bristol, while also trying to adhere to the government’s guidelines.

If you are debating over downloading a dating app, I would strongly recommend doing so late at night, with your friends, while drunk. When it comes to choosing photos and writing answers to prompts, Dutch courage is a necessity.  This is what led to my first Hinge date.

Based on my limited experience, this is what I have learnt from my time on Hinge and dating under the 10pm curfew in Bristol.

Swapping your insta’s guarantees a date

After a few days of exchanging flirty messages, my first potential date asked for my Instagram. I have since learnt, swapping Instagram handles is tantamount to making plans to meet. He suggested meeting at The Prince of Wales around 6:30, giving us 3 and a half hours to drink away any potential awkwardness. Credit to Boris for the early schedule.

The curfew is a blessing in disguise

Before my first date I had thought, if it goes awfully, I could fall back on the 10 p.m. curfew. It would be an easy get away if the vibe was off, and I had naively not planned for it to go well. The conversation and beers flowed on my first date, luckily, but I had to pull the curfew card for my second.

Don’t feel pressured to go back to your house just for something to do

Under the new curfew, last orders have to be made well before 10, so while the bartender shouted at inebriated Northwell freshers, we downed two double G&Ts. By the time our nerves had been forgotten, the clock struck 10: “what should we do now?”.

As we stumbled onto Stokes Croft, we agreed to call it a night. The only other alternative being inviting him over to my house, which felt premature (an anticlimactic end, I know). It was frustrating, as I would had liked another round but couldn’t face sharing a four-pack in my freezing, and rather messy, bedroom.

There needs to be some conversation first

My second hinge date swept me off my feet by asking to meet for dinner within an hour of talking. It was so sexy. Boys, take note. I suggested Café Cuba in Stokes Croft, in light of its glowing reviews, and in case things didn’t go well, or in case they went especially well, its close proximity to mine. He replied with: “Table booked for 8:30. Should I pick you up?”. I couldn’t believe my luck.

We spoke about our different experiences of lockdown, our family lives, my studies, his job; but there was no romantic spark. To my disappointment, the only thing we had in common was a passion for effective planning and Cuban cuisine.

Although we did have a nice evening and it was exciting to be spontaneous, the date made me realise, it’s important to have some conversation prior to meeting. You can’t gage what someone is like from a limited selection of photos and prompts. Especially when boys on Hinge think liking coffee is a personality trait. This time, I was grateful for the curfew.

This is not what we mean by conversation

Do not go for drinks in a bait uni pub

Avoid bait places like the Brass Pig, The White Harte and W.G. Grace at all costs. You don’t have much time on your date as it is, under the curfew, so the last thing you want to be doing is hiding from the ridicule of your sports soc or awkwardly bumping into previous flatmates, lab partners or, worse, your ex-shags.

Don’t avoid it, just do it

After spending the last few years avoiding dating apps, I can say with confidence: dating is really fun. The pre-date jitters, alongside the extensive debrief with your mates afterwards, makes the embarrassment and increased screen time worth it.

Don’t be afraid to message first

I messaged my third date after he liked my photo. Once the embarrassment of using a dating app fades, you realise the ridiculousness of waiting for a boy to message first. We could be midway into another lockdown before a boy decides to message, so don’t miss out on an evening of flirting and drinking 8.6% cider at The Apple because you didn’t want to make the first move.

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