Exclusive: What it’s really like to be on First Dates
We’re very excited that Channel 4’s First Dates is back on our screens with an all new series. To celebrate the dating show’s fourth season airing on Thursdays at 10pm, we asked Episode 2 contestant and dating blogger Lauren what it’s really like to go on a date on national television. Here’s what she had to say:
A couple of years ago after giggling on the sofa with my housemate during an episode of First Dates we made a deal; If we were both still single when they made a new series, we’d apply. Now this week, I wait nervously as they air my episode. For someone like me who isn’t massively at home in the spotlight it was a weird experience, but definitely not a bad one, and in the end it taught me a lot. So this is it, this is what it’s really like to go on a date on national television.
It really is ‘real’.
Unlike a lot of constructed reality shows, First Dates really is how it comes across on screen. It’s not a big set and you’re not encouraged to say or do anything to make ‘good TV’, you’re just shown to a restaurant and what happens is all down to you and your date.
They actually want you to find someone.
If I’m ever asked what my type is, my usual response is “guys that aren’t interested in me”, but during the application and audition process I must have answered hundreds of questions relating to my idea of the perfect match. The team work tirelessly to set you up with someone you’ll really click with, and if it doesn’t work out they’re all genuinely disappointed.
Alcohol is necessary.
Now I’m not a nervous person, but gosh was I nervous that day. Most of the daters have had at least a couple of drinks before they start the date, and some are already wasted in a bid to fight their fears.
It’s the same as any other date.
Other than the fact that you don’t even know your date’s name, let alone what they look like, it really is like any other date. There’s the same nerves and hopes and sometimes disappointment, the awkward conversation over who should pay the bill etc. The only difference is there’s no chance they’ll send you a dick pic like half the dudes on Tinder.
You find out a lot about yourself.
Considering I write a dating blog, you’d assume I was pretty used to analysing the details, but First Dates taught me a lot about myself. When you’re asked so many questions by researchers you’re kind of forced to step back and consider things more than usual. It made me realise the things I value most when I’m in a relationship, and how being single for a couple of years has changed me. Recalling past heartbreaks also led me to understand how that shaped the way I date now; I’m cautious and insecure in a way I was never aware of before.
The food is great.
Really great, which sucks because obviously you’re being filmed the entire time; a nightmare if you’re a fast, messy eater like me. I also made the mistake of ordering crab, thinking it would be served dressed, only to be faced with the horror of wrestling with a giant crustacean served to me on a huge silver platter topped with ice. Let me tell you this: there is literally no way to appear ladylike or seductive to a man whilst cracking seafood legs with what pretty much looks like a torture device.
In the end, we all just want to be liked.
It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you want to find big love like in the movies or fall in to bed mad with lust; in the end, we just want to be liked. There’s no shame in wanting to be desired, even if you don’t share the affection. And it’s not just your date whose opinion matters, you want the producers and editors to warm to you too and present you in a likeable way when it comes to your episode being aired on national television, and even then there’s the fear that the trolls who live and feed in the darkest corners of the internet won’t spare you their vicious tweets and vacuous remarks. Ultimately you just have to be yourself, because there really is someone for everyone, and trying to be anything but wholly, unashamedly and even embarrassingly you, would be a magnificent undersell to the person who will eventually fall madly in love with you.
See Lauren appear on First Dates tonight at 10pm on Channel 4.
Read more about her dating experiences as a young Londoner by following her blog at nobaddatesjustgoodstories.tumblr.com.