Alison Taylor on relationships: Warning - smoking aids your love life


I was out with a friend and my new haircut last Friday night and experienced what I'm now calling a Modern-Day Meet-Cute. A meet-cute is the scene in a film where a future romantic couple meets for the first time, often in an amusing way, and sparks start to fly. Think Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes and the fish tank scene in Romeo + Juliet; when Hugh Grant propels orange juice all over Julia Roberts's top in Notting Hill; or Gene Kelly landing in Debbie Reynolds' convertible in Singin' in the Rain.

So to my meet-cute. Virginia and I are stood in the 4th-floor smokers' pen when suddenly the night sky erupts with a colourful mess of fireworks, prompting me to say to the fit bloke having a fag opposite: "Did you organise this for me?". Cute, amusing and spark-filled, I'd like to think. Luckily, he thought so too and we carried on chatting all night.

Real-life meets like this have definitely become fewer and farther between in my experience, since people seem more comfortable connecting with their eyes locked on-screen, thumb and index finger engaged. Now I'm not suggesting anybody should take up a nicotine habit for the sake of finding love, but I would say your odds of a meet-cute do increase in the smoking area, because people actually talk to each other. Unfortunately, your odds of dying also increase so, you know, swings and roundabouts.

Because clearly I'm on a roll, on Saturday I experienced the Forced Meet-Cute, more commonly known as the set-up. I'm innocently downing cocktails in a new local joint when the couple I'm with suggest we head to another neighbourhood bar to, quote, "meet somebody I might like". Oh God, when did this ever end well, let alone cute? First things first, what does he look like? "Like he should've been in Oasis," is the reply. OK-aay. The modern bit to this meet-cute is the fact that my friends encourage me to check him out on LinkedIn (romantic, I know) as we're taxi-ing between venues. That would almost have been a good idea except for the fact that LinkedIn likes to tell its users who's been checking them out. Not so cute now, huh?

Social media can be an amazing buzzkill when it wants to be. If it's not our rampant appetite for gathering 'intelligence' on a potential suitor drawing out the romance like blood into a syringe, it's the fact that we're highly likely to not be in the room, even if we're in the room. Those chance meetings are passing us by. As one of my twentysomething single girlfriends put it: "We're at a bar but we always have our heads down because we're swiping right on Tinder".