Author’s Note: Part 1 of this series–Gratiana’s Misadventures in Dating–can be found at
From Flirtation to Frission, Part 2 (34b):
My Love Story
Since I’m a very happily married woman who sometimes shares that fact with my gal pals in Armitage World Chat, they asked me for some advice on making that first contact and they suggested that I write about flirting. This essay continues a three part series that I’m sharing about my limited, but ultimately successful experience in finding love.
Now I don’t claim to be an expert–I fully acknowledge that I am very lucky in love. But, if you find my insights at all helpful then I’m happy to share them. I’ve also sprinkled a few example references from Richard Armitage’s varied roles throughout. Because a day without Richard Armitage in it is like a day without sunshine. Ha!
So, here is what serendipitously worked for me when I met my hubby 23 years ago, and what still works for us together now. Yes, people, flirting with each other doesn’t end once you’ve become a committed couple. If you’re very lucky the flirting continues. *wink*
1) Self Grooming: I know that you know that looking your best is important. And don’t think because you’re chubby (me), short (me), inexperienced at dating (me 23 years ago), that you don’t have a shot with the object of your affection. Find a flattering hairstyle (longer hair tends to make me look younger with my round face), clothes that fit (and don’t hang like a sack on you or look like they’re two sizes too small), appropriate levels of makeup (enough to enhance, but not overpower), and smell nice (even if it’s only a fresh soap smell). And wear colors and some prints–black is for funerals or evening attire, not every day. If you’re chubby, no amount of black will make you look thinner. I love the Vicar Geraldine’s flower printed outfit that she wears to dinner on her first date with Harry Kennedy in the Vicar of Dibley [(1) Dibley Dinner Scene].
Grati’s story–Though, I was quite chubby when I met my hubby (I still am, truth be told), I always dressed in a feminine way–long softly curled brunette hair and complementary makeup, soft feminine blouses with ruffles in the right places (but still covering my generous bosom for modesty’s sake, no crevice showing), clothing fabrics colors are pastels in summer and other colors throughout the year, with some patterns thrown in for added visual interest. My basic premise about myself employs a flower analogy–my niece is a rosebud, my sister is a bouquet, and I’m a garden. Who doesn’t love a lush garden of beautiful flowers? And my body mists–because perfume scents are usually too heavy–tend to have a flower scent to them.
2) Be observant of those around you: I told a friend the other night that when you’re in a group of people–whether new people or those you see everyday–take your blinders off. Don’t “settle”, but some of the greatest people we will ever meet are in our peripheral vision. In Sparkhouse, Carol Bolton had never given their farm hand John Standring a second glance. It wasn’t until she needed help and he was willing to provide that help that she realized that here was someone all along whom she had overlooked. And she began to see anew how they might be able to join forces–and ultimately marry, thus saving the farm from being foreclosed on [(2) John reviewing the bank letter with Carol].
Grati’s story– It was that way with my hubby and I–I hadn’t noticed him before. I had gone out to a happy hour with some gal pals before we were to go to another restaurant for dinner. My hubby was at the other end of a very long series of four tables filled with about twenty people in this mixed bag group of friends. He was someone whom I had never met, nor knew his name–nor that he even existed until the night we met. As a twenty eight year old woman at the time, I had long before then almost given up on ever finding love. But happily, love hadn’t give up on finding me.
3) Smile and Gaze: Unforced and relaxed smiles potentially indicate a happy person. And happy people are easier to get along with. If you’re planning to spend time with someone, you want to enjoy yourself. But, don’t rule out someone who might have a bland facial expression, it might simply be nervousness on their part. But run away from the cranky, always complaining, and high maintenance people. Life is too short to let their negativity invade your life. However, we can see in North & South (2004) how John smiles and gazes at Margaret other across the Thornton mansion parlor at the Master’s dinner party. Electrifying! [(3) John’s gaze]
Grati’s story: When I happened to look at the other end of the table at that happy hour gathering, I saw this friendly seeming fellow smiling hard in our direction. I turned to my gal pals and asked whom they thought he was looking at, and the consensus was that he was smiling at me. I was incredulous! But, I instinctively turned back to look at his end of the table and gave him a small smile of acknowledgement–it was a warm friendly smile. He beamed his bright smile back at me. But, I should have maintained my gaze at him and didn’t–but I should have to encourage him. More about that later.
4) Investigate him: It’s important to vet someone before you let them into your life. No one wants a John Mulligan–as in Richard Armitage’s sleazy drug dealer character in Moving ON: Drowning Not Waving. No matter how charming he “seems” to be, I still notice an undercurrent of malice present in his focused gaze [(4) John Mulligan]. Knowing that someone is a friend of a friend–better than in the Facebook version of that notion–gives you peace of mind.
Grati’s story: As it happens, one of my gal pals that I was with that evening was this fellow’s graduate teaching assistant office mate–and she had known him at community college. So, she could tell me quite a bit about him and our other mutual friends–one of whom later became a groomsmen at our wedding.
5) Make the first move, if he doesn’t: We live in a modern age. Women don’t have to wait for men to make the first move in dating etiquette. However, there are certain conventions to be observed if you don’t want to appear pushy. You want to meet him casually and briefly–with other friends present so you can extricate yourself easily. You’re not going to kiss him right away–let alone, jump into bed with him right away. Seriously, forget what movies tell you. First meetings should be short but memorable. Again, Harry Kennedy comes to mind because Geraldine undertook to visit him in his new cottage in The Vicar of Dibley. Though, she didn’t realize that Harry was tall, dark, and handsome before she went over there [(5) Harry opens the door to meet Gerry paying him a first visit]. Ha!
Grati’s story: Somewhere deep within me I felt emboldened to make the first move, since after sitting and chatting with my friends after he and I exchanged smiles, he didn’t join us at our end of the table. I had made the classic mistake earlier, I dropped my gaze when he looked at me from the other end of the table. In essence, I was signaling that I wasn’t interested and he didn’t approach me. But really, I just didn’t know what I was doing. I later also found out he was a bit shy. So, it was up to me to make the first move. So, I walked past that end of the table to the ladies room where I primped myself up a bit. Then I returned to his end of the table and chatted with a friend I knew sitting next to him. My future hubby sat there smiling hard at me, but he made no move to introduce himself. So, after chatting with my friend, I turned to my future hubby and stated the obvious, “ I’m sorry, but I don’t think we’ve met. I’m Gratiana Lovelace” I smiled warmly at him. Then he stood up–all 6 ft 4 inches tall (to my 5 foot 3 inches tall person) and introduced himself. After regaining my momentarily stunned senses with regard to the cute tall guy in front of me, we exchanged a few more pleasantries. My demeanor was cordial and not overtly sexual. But of course, at that point in my life I wouldn’t have known that I did have a sexual persona–since I had not exercised that prerogative yet. Then I returned to my gal pals at the other end of the table.
This also makes me think of that first meeting scene when Harry asking Gerry if “any handsome strangers ever swept you off your feet?” She replies “noooooh, not yet”. To which Harry mumbles under his breath in reply, “Wow, very good”. Sighhhhh! [(6) Harry and Gerry mesmerized by each other] And I love how tiny Dawn French looks here compared to Richard Armitage. It’s very reminiscent of the height difference between my future hubby and I. Though Dawn has more cleavage than I would ever hope to have. And I do have some very nice cleavage. Ha! Let’s enjoy Harry and Gerry meeting for the first time again in this video clip from The Vicar of Dibley, Handsome Stranger episode [(7) Harry and Gerry meeting]:
6) Follow-up: Some guys need a little help in the follow through department with regard to initiating and developing a relationship. They are shy or inexperienced, or both. So they don’t always know how to act–to ask for a girl’s phone number, and such. So ladies, we have to help them out in that regard. So, back to the John Standring Sparkhouse model of inexperience and backwardness with regard to dating matters as the picture to the right illustrates–when the only reason that Carol Bolton is with him is to try to make Andrew Lawton jealous [(8) John with Carol at bar].
Grati’s story: That evening after I met my future hubby, my gal pals and I went on to have a great dinner out–and I grilled my one friend about everything she knew about this guy I met. I thought I had indicated my interest clearly enough, but sometimes, guys–and even our gal pals–don’t pick up on our signals. So, a week passes and he doesn’t call me. Though he hadn’t asked for, nor had I given him my phone number, he could have easily gotten that from my gal pal, his office mate. So, dejectedly, I call my gal pal Thursday evening to let her know that he hasn’t called me. Then she revealed that she didn’t think I was interested in him that much so she didn’t chat me up to him, nor give him my information. I nearly jumped off the couch. Well actually, I did jump off the couch. And I told my friend in clear, precise, an unequivocal language that “I like him and a lot. And to please tell him to ask me out.” Neither she nor he could mistake my interest this time.
7) Carpe Diem: Seize the opportunity to go out on a date with the person you’re interested in. Forget playing coy and hard to get. You’ve already done that by being in your late twenties (thirties, or forties, etc.) and not being attached and in a relationship. The time is now to seal the deal. As in Gerry eagerly accepting the dinner date with Harry when he “cheekily” asks if she might “fancy a bite of supper, tonight” [(9) Supper invitation].
Grati’s story: So, the next day, a Friday morning–one week after meeting my future hubby–I’m sitting at my desk working on the budget when I received a call. It’s him. He asked me out on a lunch date sometime. I suggested that very day and we agree to meet. Gerry didn’t hesitate, nor did it. After hanging up my phone, I raised my arms triumphantly into the air and say “Yes!” This somewhat startled my student worker, but then I explained that I have a date and she smiles. Thank goodness I always dressed nicely for work and was wearing a ruffly feminine blouse.
8) First Date in Neutral Territory The first time you go on a date with someone new, you want it to be in neutral territory and in public. You’re still negotiating how you interact with that person. And doing so with the buffer of others around you helps enormously. Again, think Harry and Geraldine on the pub dinner date.
Grati’s story: So, my future hubby walked across campus and we met as prearranged at a monument on the central quad park area. Then we went to the student union to have lunch. I ate very little due to nerves–and I also didn’t talk much either. Happily, my future hubby chatted enough for the both of us. Then, he walked me back into my building and we parted at the elevator. We knew that we had an attraction for each other that was very palpable–afterall, we had arranged a movie date for that Friday evening. I held out my hand to shake his as I stepped into the elevator. But instead of him shaking my hand, he brought it up to his lips and kissed my hand as he smiled warmly at me–just like Harry did in the Vicar of Dibley after his first date with Geraldine [(10) Harry kissing Geraldine’s hand]. Okay, I was a goner right then and there as I floated back to my office for the afternoon.
9) First Kiss Do Over: An evening date is somehow more substantial than a daylight hours date. I’m not sure quite why, but it is. Maybe it’s because two activities are generally involved–dinner and a movie. However, there is also the expectation that kissing on the lips might happen in the cover of darkness. So, don’t be shy about wanting to make sure that your series of first kisses together is done right and seek a “do over” if you need to.
Grati’s Story: After dinner and seeing the movie–“Who Framed Roger Rabbit”–my future husband and I drove in my car back to his car on campus and then he would head home out of town. After I parked next to his car in the university parking lot, I turned to him and thanked him for the lovely evening. That’s when he leaned in for a kiss, but the kiss was a little hard–pressing his teeth onto his lip that then pressed into my teeth and lips. And it was awkward for this tall man scrunched into my compact car to further minimize himself. The angle of the kiss–in my limited experience up to that point--contributed to the awkwardness of that kiss. So I explained to him that “I haven’t kissed anyone for a long time. So, might we try that kiss again?” Thereby putting the reason for the do over onto my shoulders rather than that he was a bad kisser. He smiled eagerly and took his time with our 2nd kiss–and got it right. We’ve been together ever since–having lunches daily, almost nightly dates, and such as we courted–before and during our engagement. So, I highly recommend “do over” kisses. And here is the lovely image of Harry and Geraldine sharing their first goodnight kiss [(11) Goodnight kiss].
10) First Everything Else: Deciding when to make love for the first time with your boyfriend/fiancé/husband is something that only you can decide for yourself. There are the obvious considerations to keep in mind.
a) Are you emotionally ready for such intimacy? For many women, making love is the most intimate expression of their love for their beloved. For men, they seem to have an easier time in putting making love into less intimate (dare I say “scratching an itch”) perspective and might not view your relationship as advanced as you do just because you’re sleeping together. Although Lucas North in Spooks always seemed to convey both desire and attachment to the object of his desire. I recall the late evening scene in Spooks series 8 episode 2 when after consulting with Sarah about a case they’re working on together, Lucas asks “what happens next?” Sarah asks “Next?” Then Lucas replies with a sly grin on his face “Well, at least for the next several hours.” [(12) Lucas kissing Sarah] In their case, they kiss and then do head for a hotel. But, you’re not going to do that, not just yet.
b) If you do plan to or are making love then you need to behave responsibility health wise and use condoms to prevent disease, and or additionally use the pill or other forms of contraception to also prevent unplanned pregnancies. And intimacies–especially when the woman is a virgin–need to happen gradually if the man is to woo her and make her feel comfortable. Especially, if the woman is holding on to her personal values (religious or otherwise). And, it may very well be that the first time you make love is on your wedding night, and that’s okay. It may seem quaint in this day and age, but if the sexual revolution came about to give women and couples choices, then one choice you may make is waiting until the time is right for the both of you in making love. Is waiting for intimacy together easy when your desire wants to ignite in frissions of passion that would melt most laptops? Not a chance.
c) But waiting until the time is right for both of you to make love together is very important–especially if one member of the relationship is more experience sexually than the other. Believe me, your patience will be rewarded tenfold. And I’m not sure what it is about a virgin that so inspires a man to wait patiently for intimacy with her–wooing and seducing her slowly over weeks and even months, if he cares for you. Is it the unclaimed nature of her womanhood as I think I’ve mentioned before? Is it her lack of lovemaking comparison statistics for him to be judged against? Or, is it the loving tender feelings that develop between two people truly in love? All of the above.
Grati’s story: Well, as I hope you know yourselves, lovemaking intimacy with one’s beloved is private. Discretion is the key in nurturing and protecting your love story. So, I will not share details of my love story with you here. I will say that my wonderful husband was and is my only lover–and our frissions of passion could indeed melt this laptop that I’m typing on.
And 23 years later–22 years as husband and wife–my wonderful husband and I are still best friends, passionate lovers, and each other’s true soul mates. We always will be. We flirt delightfully with each other–making smooching kisses if we’re across the room from each other, tickling each other’s palms when we’re in public, etc. Ha! We have shared endearments that we call each other, and we are loving and tender with each other. So, now is the time for you to assess your relationship spheres. Do you have a special someone? And if you’re still seeking that special someone, take your blinders off and open your eyes and look around. Some of the greatest people we meet are in our peripheral vision.
Here is a final video by crinklette about love and accompanied by images of Richard Armitage in his various character portrayals. Well, since I don’t have video of my hubby, we’ll just have to make do with Richard Armitage. Ha! [(13) I think that I’m in Love With You]
For the final part in this series of essays titled Flirting to Frission–Part 3 Gratiana’s Relational Intimacy Tips (or Flirting 101)–please visit my blog tomorrow for Post #34c.
(1) Dibley Dinner Scene in the Christmas Special (2006), Handsome Stranger, where Geraldine is wearing a beautiful flower print ensemble. http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/VOD/album/VOD1/slides/vod1-103.html
(2) John Standring reviewing the bank letter with Carol Bolton in Sparkhouse, episode 3 (2002).
(3) John Thornton’s gaze across the Thornton parlor at Margaret Hale during the Master’s dinner party scene in Episode 2 of North & South (2004).
(4) John Mulligan in Moving ON: Drowning Not Waving (2009)
(5) Harry opening the door to meet Gerry paying him a first visit. The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special (2006), Handsome Stranger. I’m “on record” for not being fond of these scratchy looking striped wool sweaters that Harry wears. But with this brilliant smile greeting me? I would make an exception. Ha!
(6) Harry and Gerry mesmerized by each other after she confirms no one has swept her off her feet and he says “very good”. The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special (2006), Handsome Stranger.
(7) Gerry meeting Harry for the first time video clip by Sanlua84 of The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special (2006), Handsome Stranger.
(8) John with Carol at the bar, while she is trying to make Andrew Jealous, Sparkhouse (2004) episode 1.
(9) Gerry accepts Harry’s supper invitation, The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special (2006), Handsome Stranger.
(10) Harry kissing Gerry’s hand after their first date, The Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special (2006), Handsome Stranger.
(11) Harry and Gerry having their first goodnight kiss, after their kissing with tongues, Vicar of Dibley Christmas Special (2006), Handsome Stranger.
(12) Lucas North kissing Sarah Caulfield in Spooks series 8, episode 2.
(13) I Think I’m in Love With You, video by crinklette, 2011.