Dinner Date and Expectations

Not big on TV. Nor a Netflix nerd.

But on Sunday evenings, I do like a bit of Dinner Date.

There is one lucky lad or lady, for whom three contestants take turns to cook a three-course meal, only one then chosen for a second date.

Here are three recurrent themes of the programme.

The first, the abominations the contestants conjure from the depths of culinary hell and serve as food. There are few exceptions, and those are prepared by professional kitchen staff.

Second, the lad or lady never takes the winning contestant on a third date. No exceptions. It’s like they all do it for fame, or the free meal, or something.

The third is what interests me; the subject of this piece.


“What’s your type?” The contestant will ask, presupposing that every person will ‘have a type’, by which they mean a perfect platonic form of a person in their immature imagination, against which all prospective partners are severely judged.

In reply, the lucky lad or lady will usually reel off a complex of physical qualities—blonde, tall, tanned, curvy—none of which have any meaningful, lasting bearing on the development and sustenance of a healthy relationship.

Wishing for all the qualities that comprise your perfect imaginary person to fortuitously manifest within a real life person, who is ‘just your type’, is a childish fancy.

These sorts of games should really be abandoned at the same time you stop playing make-believe. It reduces your chances of finding and building relationships with people outside that imaginary bracket; real-life people with nonphysical qualities that actually matter, and make for healthy relationships, like honesty, loyalty, compassion, and so on.

My fiancée, thinks much of relationship decline is due to the problems created by immaturely calibrated expectations.

The bad news is, the expectation of immediate satisfaction and physical perfection is being beamed into the brains of children by the likes of Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. They make real life people and situations appear inferior. They artificially establish expectations that can never be met. They are about looking at and ‘liking’ skin-deep physical appearances.

The good news is, expectations can be recalibrated. Valuing and focussing on the nonphysical qualities that actually matter—honesty, loyalty, compassion—will bring you honest, loyal and compassionate relationships; in the same way, focussing on shallow physical qualities will bring only shallow physical relationships.

Yes, Dinner Date probably wouldn’t be the riot I’ve come to enjoy if its contestants were all cooking up a storm and sincerely searching for a lifelong lover. It’s the magnificent personality and culinary clangers that make it watchable, necessarily through one’s fingers at times.

But if there is a moral to the programme, it is this. The contestants have high expectations and a perfect type, yet they never manage to make it to a third date.

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