Dating used to be so simple. Boys meets girl, for a drink or dinner, boy spends all evening working out whether the girl might be vaguely interested – and if he should try to lunge on the way home. Oh for such pre-internet chauvinistic simplicity.

    Modern dating is a perilous minefield where you're one step away from farcical failure. Where the norms are a shifting sand of unfathomable nuances.

    As Woman's Hour and Men's Hour come together to map today's dating scene, here's a half-baked guide to help fellas navigate this minefield (and allow women to glimpse the unedifying depths of our superficiality). Here is our Man's Survival Guide for First Dates...

    1) 45 minutes minimum: the least amount of time you can get away with is 45 minutes. Generally an hour is the polite norm, but if they don't look at all like their photos you can knock off 15 minutes – 'out of date photo tax'

    2) Go away from home if it's blind: meeting a blind or internet date in your local pub is the height of recklessness. Meet off the beaten track to avoid running into friends or, heaven forbid, an ex. Only go local if you're willing to play high stakes ex roulette. If they turn out to be A) super-hot and B) seemingly normal, feel free to book a second date at the most prominent table in your ex's favourite restaurant.

    3) Daytime is fine: a painless way to meet an unseen date is during the day for a cuppa. This averts that terrible sinking feeling of knowing you've got a whole evening ahead with someone you'd never fancy in a million years – and preserves your evenings to sit at home and watch box-sets in your lonely solitude.

    4) Don't text: however much you feel the urge, don't check or send texts during the date – that's what fake toilet breaks are for. If she texts during the date, you're allowed to feel a little miffed. If she texts whilst watching a film in the cinema, you're allowed to go to the toilet and never return.

    5) Cough up: the bill is a gender politics minefield. To grab the bill and offer to pay looks like retro male-dominant chauvinism – to sit back and leave the bill in no-man's land looks a bit cheap and not manly enough. So, politely ask if you can pay the bill. However, if she has shown a total disinterest in you during the date – and not asked any questions about you – then suggest you split the bill. That'll teach her (nothing) but make you feel you've escaped with some dignity (miniscule)

    Tim presents @BBCMensHour on Radio 5 live – and is also having a go at building his own dating site.

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    • Comment number 2. Posted by Lawrence Jones

      on 23 Aug 2013 15:12

      Best tip of all: avoid all anonymous dating sites and stay single. Like Twitter, these dating arenas are hunting grounds for unsavoury and disreputable individuals. Safer to spend time studying Mother Julian’s tea cosy knitting patterns.

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    • Comment number 1. Posted by This is a colleague announcement

      on 22 Aug 2013 09:27

      "5 tips for men to survive the modern first date"


      Here's mine: just keep breathing. You'll generally be OK.

      What over-dramatic silliness.

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