I’ve recently closed my online dating account. I’ve initiated my last virtual flirtation. Trolled profiles late at night for the last time…
It’s like the end of a relationship in its own right.
You see, I’d been doing it a while. Like internet porn, you don’t realize what a commitment it had become until inevitably, it comes to a close. At the last count, I’d spent over £300 on maintaining an online profile and been on more than 50 dates. Now, assuming a mean average of around sixty pounds a date (£100 if we got as far as dinner, £30 without) that’s an eye watering three grand on my dating pastime in just under five years. That’s nearly as much as smoking. And more than enough for a gym membership.
We’re talking a proper hobby here.
In a career divided by a relationship with someone from a dating site three years ago, there have been the good (60 percent, roughly), the ‘nice-but-nos’ (30 percent) and a conservative 10 percent on the ‘Pull the rip cord is it actually legal to lie THAT MUCH when agreeing to meet someone’ girls.
So what does one look forward to when taking up this new found hobby? Well, on the whole, a hell of a lot more fun that sitting in the pub with your mates and associated football fans shouting at a plasma screen whilst getting robbed thirty quid a round for pissy lager. You get to spend at least a part on an evening with someone you never would have met otherwise. And, because of the online profile you’ve been gleefully eyeing up for the previous week, there’s at least a chance that she’s nice to look at. And because the sites allow you to chat via email (and in some cases Messenger) you should be fairly confident they have a couple of GCSEs to their name and aren’t some dribbling chav looking for a sugar daddy to rescue them and eight kids from their council house.
Yes - on the whole, it’s a fun evening out. And sometimes one with potential.
“So, what of this potential of which you speak?” I hear you cry. (Come on, anyone reading this far is surely inquisitive to find out if people ever find the love of their lives, or at least get their jollies, and it’s a fair question).
The answer, I’m afraid, is varied. Looking back on some of my own experiences, I’ve been busted in flagrante by the Green Park police on at least two occasions after date one. (Just a heads up, those girls are unlikely to be keepers). And I’ve had a very enjoyable two year relationship on the other end of the scale. In the middle, there’s been everything from tears (theirs – I said I didn’t think we were compatible after an hour) to fears (mine – when she came back to my place, again on date one, undressed and put on my Dinner Jacket before leaning out of my second story window so she could be seen by the passing Friday crowds of Clapham.
It was 8.30 PM…
So it can be a mixed bag, all in all.
A lot more fun that sitting in the pub with your mates and associated football fans shouting at a plasma screen whilst getting robbed thirty quid a round for pissy lager.
Online dating has lost its taboo status. No seriously, it has. Just look at the stats, glance in the media or eves drop any number of pub conversations. Due to its success, growth has been exponential over the last five years. It’s self perpetuating, since all it takes is one girl or guy to find love and tell ten friends over a glass of wine.
The next day they’re all at it.
With that in mind, there’s a decent chance you’ve either dated online yourself or considered doing so. In which case, writing your own profile (and reading between the lines of others) is your first step.
For yourself, it works something like this:-
Age – Tell the truth here. There’s nothing worse for a girl than finding out the guy they’re meeting is the wrong side of thirty five rather than the right side of thirty. And while we’re here, on the age range you’re looking for? Use the standard rule of half your age plus seven. It’s a little creepy for a nineteen year old girl to get emailed by a thirty year old guy, no matter how hot she looks in that holiday photo. And remember, other girls can probably see the age range you’re looking at – so make sure your upper limit is at least your own age, if not a couple of years older. You don’t have to date them if you don’t want to, but it makes you look like you’d at least consider it. And again, makes you less of a creep.
The truth is, you can’t afford to be seen to be ageist, even by those looking for a sugar daddy. Look, no-one said that online dating was an egalitarian affair. Unless by egalitarian they meant ‘Everyone lies as much as each other’. In which case, it is.
Height – Again, tell the truth. Yes, most girls will eventually admit their dream man is six foot plus, but if you’re five seven and lie, your dating career will last as long as your trousers. Ultimately, you won’t get too far by lying.
Shape – See height, but on this one you can possibly drop one level. If you’re average, put athletic. If you’re tubby, put average etc. Girls do this, but they often drop two levels. It’s infuriating.
Religion – I always put Christian – non practicing (whereas neo Pagan would have been closer to the truth, but by putting ‘Atheist’ you’re automatically discounting a Convent school’s worth of untapped talent).
No-one said that online dating was an egalitarian affair. Unless by egalitarian they meant ‘Everyone lies as much as each other’.
Then we get onto who you’re looking for on a girls profile. And here’s where you have to know the rules:-
Height – If you’re six foot tall or over, never go sub 5 foot. Seriously, it just doesn’t work. I once dated an Aussie girl who was four foot ten. Great company, hell of a brain. But it was like taking my niece to school the next morning.
While we’re on height, what if the girl’s over five eleven? A tough call unless you’re a tall guy yourself. They may look like a supermodel on paper, until you remember that supermodels are simply a pair of side boob shadows airbrushed onto a skeleton. And unless you’re a giant (or own an orchard) then it’s unlikely to work.
Shape – Skinny, Athletic, Slim, Curvy? The rule of thumb here is to add one to every category except skinny – which means anorexically thin in anyone’s language.
Curvy? It means fat, most probably (harsh, perhaps, but true) which may be your bag. But buyer beware - it’s most likely in your ‘I’m prepared to consider’ list to make you look like you’re a personality driven, grounded legend of a man which, let’s face it, you’re probably not.
Religion – It shouldn’t really matter if they’re atheist, agnostic or non practicing. Failing that, it’s a case of each man to their own. Someone like me was unlikely to pass the family test with a discerning Jewish, Muslim or Hindi Father. Besides which, I drink, smoke, swear and haven’t exactly got the best pedigree when it comes to monogamy, so in terms of this strategy I thought it was best to stick to the path of least resistance. It’s like the path to enlightenment, only easier.
OK, so the above were some suggested approaches. But they’re only suggestions. If you enter the world of online dating, the best advice I can give to guys is to approach lots of women you like the look of, try to make them laugh, don’t wait more than three emails to ask them out. And be honest, if at all possible – it makes life much more simple.
To girls? Not all guys who date online are dicks, so please don’t assume the worst. And stop lying in your profiles – it works right up to the nanosecond after you meet your prospective date, which is no good for either of you. Oh and by the way, girls are at least as shallow as guys when it comes to judging on looks alone. Just a heads up.
Finally, and to both sexes, if you even remotely like each other, don’t have sex on date one. Unless that’s your entire objective, in which case play safe and go for it.
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