Film Buff and I are sailing along nicely. Almost suspiciously nicely. We’ve settled into a seeing-each-other-every-six-days rota which is twice my typical desired amount and yet… I find myself actually wanting to speak to him in between dates. And since I’m following a book that lets me do whatever I want whenever I want so long as I look decent and hold down a job, the possibilities are endless. I can ask him out as much as I damn well please. But I don’t have to because he does the asking before me.

He is also consistently early to meet me so that when I walk into the bar he is always waiting for me with a gin and tonic. He is one of the few men who seems to have mastered the art of the two-sided conversation; he is both a great story teller and a great story receiver. And the other night, he took me to see Casablanca on the big screen. Unprompted. Because he really likes the film, not because he was trying to score chick points.

Essentially, so far he is exactly what I thought a man should be when I was 16 (before I met actual men and had to curb my expectations somewhat).

The thing is, while I’m certainly enjoying my rule-free freedom at the moment (well, rule-free other than the rules dictating that I must be fabulous, thin and well-groomed) I am noticing a direct increase in my (I’m sure charmingly) neurotic emails to friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances asking for advice on how to handle each and every situation. Right now I’m trying to figure out if I should cancel my Saturday night date with the TV Guy so I can see Film Buff instead (sorry, I know the media nicknames are getting slightly absurd. In fact, if it’s okay with you I’m going to change Film Buff’s name to Geordie, if only because I’m sick of typing the word Buff). If I was following a more structured book, it would solve the dilemma for me. Instead, I’m seeking out council from everyone and anyone, hoping someone will give me the response I’m looking for (and that changes on a moment by moment basis as well).

I always thought that women who relied on these dating guides were silly and self-obsessed and slaves to social mores but now that I’m seeing myself unchained after a few months of rule-following… well, the word “unhinged” springs to mind with relative ease.

For the first time, I can really see the appeal of these books. They provide comfort and structure in the uncertain and often bizarre world of dating. The advice might not always be right (and in some cases might be downright insane) but it’s from an impartial and seemingly-authoritative source. And they have probably saved the frayed nerves of many a friend.

So, left to my own devices and the devices of the twenty three people I’ve consulted thus far, I’ve decided to stick with the Saturday date with TV Guy and see the Geordie on Sunday. At least I think that’s what I’ve decided.

Maybe not.

I don’t know.

What do you think?

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