An office romance wasn't at all romantic

You know what? I think I'll give up. I'm a 40 year old woman with a great job in a large company and I've got here via a career path that included a period being successful in professional practice. You'd think, wouldn't you, that I'd find it easy to meet decent guys both through and at work, even if my social life is a bit rubbish and I refuse to use Tinder. But my latest dismal date is so typical of the kind of nonsense I have to put up with....

I got an internal e-mail from a man, not much younger than me, in another department, at another office. So I decided that it wasn't really like going out with someone from work which, all too often, I've seen end in tears and, even disciplinary action. I don't know how he got my details and, with hindsight, I should have ignored his impertinent comments. But I thought perhaps it was just cheeky fun.

It wasn't. We had dinner (for which, to his credit, he paid) and then he started pressing for me to go to his place or for him to go to mine. It became obvious, and somewhat embarrassing that his plan had been to get me into bed from the outset.

Now I'm both annoyed with myself for failing to see his true intent from the initial e-mails and fed up with the whole idea of dating.

I'm not even sure I'm asking for advice: I just need someone to vent to.

Gert says: Every woman needs a Bert. But they are few and far between and you're not having mine. Seriously, you aren't.

You say you don't know if you are asking for advice but I don't care, I'll stick my beak in anyway.

Don't give up but do be more selective about who you go out with. Make as many contacts as possible but filter them before agreeing to meet them. And when you do meet, do it early in the evening, for a drink or tea/coffee. Don't make plans for an evening out the first time you meet. If you are having a good time, you can move onto dinner that same evening but if you don't like it, you can leave, with dignity, after half an hour or so. That gives you time to make an assessment and also it's early enough that anything dodgy doesn't have time to develop into an embarrassment.

Bert says: I've a friend who has what he calls his "ten minute bar" and the first time he meets someone, that's where they go. He reckons that he can tell, within ten minutes, if he's going to want to spend more time with the girl and, if he doesn't, then he can leave, without being unpleasant, after the first drink. Or it can be extended as long as they like by mutual consent.

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