My friend, Carmel, had never had what many would deem a ‘proper boyfriend’. At university she was going out with a boy called John who was too scared to have sex with her, and after that had a short ‘thing’ with a scrawny bloke called Roy (whom we immediately dubbed her 'ROY-friend' and laughed hysterically at whenever his name was mentioned) but nobody stood out. And everyone she dated was always a bit odd. And even she could see that.
One afternoon several years ago she confessed that she had turned to the internet to find love. I thought she had lost her goddamn mind because of course only psychos and axe murderers used online dating (and that was mostly to find victims rather than girlfriends) - not to mention how many terrible stock photographs it's inspired, like the one above.
Was she mad? Was she really that pathetic and desperate? 23 year old women shouldn’t have to go online to find cock – they should just be swimming in it! What an idiot she was! Jeez Carmel, you LOSER.
4 years later she married a lovely man she had met online and I was single and sat at the wedding dinner next to a complete prick who was confident that he was my vaginas next visitor. Ugh.
So I decided to give online dating a try. After all, it isn’t nearly as stigmatised as it was when Carmel was using dating websites. In fact, about 75% of my single friends in London regularly use online dating to meet new people, and I’m not surprised. How often do you meet someone in a pub? In my case the answer is loads, but - and it’s a big but - I’m always too shit-faced to a) spot partner potential or b) pass for an eligible lady as I’m swallowing my own vomit and slurring my words.
After using an online dating site for a couple of months here are my findings:
- Be upfront - If you’re just looking for a shag SAY SO. There’s no point stringing people along under false pretences. We’re all grown ups here. Similarly, don’t be afraid to ask about what your date is looking for. It will avoid confusion. I once went on a date with a seemingly lovely guy who had put on his profile that he was looking for a relationship and at the end asked me if I wanted to have sex with him. Then he tried to steal my hat. What a douche.
- If someone sends you a message saying “hi sexy” you can rest assured that they aren’t looking for ‘the one’.
- You will receive unsolicited pictures of genitals. My view is that this is totally unacceptable and akin to flashing someone on the street who hasn’t shown any prior interest in seeing your willy or foof. I personally didn’t like it, but at least most sites will let you report them quicker than your eFlasher will be able to get himself off.
- People will lie. Like, about really stupid stuff. I went for a drink with a man who claimed to be 5’10. When I got there he was about 5’3. I decided that I couldn’t date a guy like this – if he thinks its cool to lie about his height what deeper secrets is he hiding? (Luckily he didn't say the extra seven inches was in his pants)
- HAVE FUN. Dating is supposed to be fun! Even if you don’t fancy each other you haven’t really lost out, right? You’ve had an experience and might even make a new friend. There’s no harm in expanding your social network. He or she might even have a hot mate that you end up meeting and fancying!
- Be careful and always let someone know where you’re going and blah blah blah. Or don’t. You’re a grown adult. Do what you like.
- Remember that it isn’t that important and things will work out one way or the other. Friends of mine have married online dates, or not found anybody they liked at all. It might be amazing. It might be a waste of time. Don’t take it too seriously. Being single is such a laugh and trust me, when you find love there will be a huge part of you that misses going on all these dates and daring to put yourself out there.
Oh, and I nearly forgot – whatever happened to me after my online dating ordeals? I only went and met the bloody love of my life, didn’t I? Smug. Suck on that, weddings that I go to where I'm not even given a plus one and am forced to sit with pricks. Suck on it.