Alison Taylor on relationships: There's nothing like an elephant in the flat on your first sleepover


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The Independent Online

The best way to embark on your first sleepover with a new man? A row. There's nothing like latent anger and a giant, irrational elephant in the flat to really set the mood as you embark on this landmark event.

That was me last Friday. To be fair, as you must be when you are considering your own behaviour, I had been ill and on mind-altering medication. But it's no excuse for being the dick, which I so definitely was. I think I was a bit scared. Of what was to come. Of what might be developing. Of The Sleepover, and what it means.

Sleepovers are different to one-night-stands because they are planned and, hopefully, a tentative step forward on a longer romantic journey. You've seen this person a few times by now, you know that you like them as a human being (pretty much) and the time has come to take it to the next level. The stakes are as high as the expectations.

I wish I could be relaxed about it, but I'm not. I like him so far – quite a lot – but what if it's weird when we're co-habiting? What if the bubble bursts? What if it's awkward in the morning (my great phobia)?

Then there's the Through The Keyhole dilemma. Who lives in a house like this? You just know that person is scanning your flat for clues that you're unhygienic/a lunatic/a hoarder. I know that's what I do – rapid scanning, Benedict-as-Sherlock-style, and making all kinds of links that aren't there. I've suffered from this before when a guy who can only be described as a mean bastard criticised several things in my flat, from a candelabra (a gift from my best friend) to my radio, which was tuned to BBC 6 Music. His conclusion: I was an "old hipster". What a gent.

So, I'm scared. I don't want to be a hipster, let alone an old one. If I've not got enough to worry about when sexy man arrives on sexy motorbike all gallant and gentlemanlike after I've been a horror to him, there's the small matter of the dachshund that I'm dog-sitting, who insists on growling and barking at him in a really sinister way. Somehow, though, that thawed the ice. All the more so when the dog makes it his mission to throw himself at my bed before being removed to the next room, only to scratch at the bedroom door every half hour.

And now that one sleepover has turned into two, turned into three, turned into four... and counting.