Alison Taylor on relationships: The morning after is like the witching hour in reverse. Or The Twilight Zone


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The Independent Online

The Morning After. If this were a destination you could book to go on holiday, you wouldn't go. Because you'd know how disappointing it would be. And how much you'd regret it once you arrived. Like Magaluf. And that's the thing about holidays – the build-up is often so much more exciting than the reality.

I met a friend last week who told me how she'd woken up in a guy's bed after what turned out to be a one-night-stand to discover he'd created a wall of pillows between them. And no, he wasn't pregnant, just rude. Apparently, he'd said when quizzed, "There was a dip in the bed". Ah, the old dip in the bed.

Despite having had long periods of being single, I don't really 'do' one night stands, partly for this reason: the minefield of cold-shouldered, awkward and downright bizarre things that go on once the booze has worn off and the light starts to leak through the blinds. It's like the witching hour in reverse. Or The Twilight Zone.

At the tamer end of the spectrum is the excuse to leave early. I've experienced this twice. Once, it was 8.30 on a Sunday morning and the guy in question said he had to go and play cricket. Maybe it was true, I mean he hails from a country where cricket is popular but I didn't quite buy it while he was anxiously scouring the floor, like a blind man, for his pants. "8.30 is bad", texted one pal about it. "Not even a croissant, and twice is polite." By this she meant there should have been more action at daybreak (though I'm not sure I was fussed). The other time, and this is brilliant, the bloke told me he had to dash off to be a zombie at the London Dungeon (or a similar ghoulish London attraction). Guess what though? It was true. I don't know which is worse. I have to admit, in my twenties, I did once make a dash at 3am – the graveyard flight, if you will. Not cool.

Meanwhile, over in Darksville, there are the odd borderline-disturbing things that happen simply because – much like with the randoms you get stuck with on a package holiday – you really don't know a person. Then suddenly they're in your flat. Being themselves. Like the guy having an affair who suggested to my mate that maybe they'd both feel more comfortable if he just paid her, to cut out "the feelings". Or the one who stayed up while his yet-to-be-a-conquest lay in bed and merrily downloaded her iTunes and altered her desktop settings.

So what to do? Like any good hotel, if you're going play host, even for a short stay, you should at least provide the basic amenities (breakfast and a hot shower) and, crucially, make your guest feel welcome by not being a complete sociopath. Oh, and maybe offer a late checkout time. It's so much chicer that way.