In a mood of boredom and boldness I joined a dating website the other week. Here are a few things I’ve noticed:
People don’t always know how to react when you tell them you’ve joined one of these things, even if they were telling you before to go for it. It seems that they don’t want to offend by saying: ‘Oh good idea!!’ but instead want to reassure you that you’re fine on your own and don’t need to bother. Make your mind up, people.
Very few people have a decent picture of themselves to hand when they’re setting up their profile. An awful lot of selfies going on.
It’s damn near impossible to write a profile that doesn’t make you sound a) like a pretentious arsehole, b) like a braindead moron who only watches TV box sets, or c) like the most boring person alive. I’ve rewritten mine four or five times and I’m still not happy with it.
People come up with absolutely atrocious usernames. I’d take the slightly dull firstname_yearofbirth any day over gems like ‘MrAlwaysRight’ (true story). It’s amazing how just the profile name can make you write people off.
Most of the people who you have conversations with that seem nice and normal will fade away without you knowing why.
Some men (and maybe women too, I don’t know) think it’s okay to take you out on a first date and seem like a normal person, and then when planning the second date try and get you to go to a place that is in the middle of nowhere, but is right by their flat. And because you know there’s nothing else there, it’s just a horribly blatant move to take you for a drink and then be able to say: ‘my flat’s just round the corner, and otherwise you’re looking at an hour to hour and a half journey home.’ Smooth. Slick like oil. People, this is not cool. It’s a) fundamentally selfish, b) extremely presumptuous, and c) borderline coercive. And only on the second date? Really? Come on, guys. It’s a shame that it would look a little crazy if you put on your profile: ‘If you’re lying on here to try and bed a woman, à la Barney on How I Met Your Mother, you can sod right off.’ Tempting, though.
It’s very difficult when a throwaway comment someone says on their profile reminds you of some complete tool you went out with, even though the comment on its own may not be irretrievable evidence of dickishness. I’m struggling to overcome my gag reflex for people saying they ‘never want to stop learning.’
It’s never appropriate to send someone a picture of yourself in swimwear after one date, even if they’ve JOKINGLY mentioned one in the middle of an already bewildering exchange about what other pictures they should put up on the website (um, I don’t care?). It doesn’t make any sense and sets you up for extremely rude comments to take down what is clearly an ego the size of a house. I was so confused by this happening that, as his brother was also in the picture, I just said: ‘well I wouldn’t put that up on the website, you might get more requests for your brother!’ Oh yes. I’m a real catch.
Some people really know how to offend women in ten syllables or less. Some particular favourites are: ‘I have a vacancy (!!!!!!!!) for someone marvellous.’ Well, good for you. Do I apply with a CV and covering letter, or do you have one of those interminable online application forms? ‘I’m looking for a woman who isn’t overly influenced by her vagina’ – WOW – this one got so ridiculous it MUST be a joke, set up by someone who is willing to spend £25-odd a month to persuade women the end of the world has arrived, because someone this consciously offensive must not be able to exist in ordinary circumstances. One that wasn’t offensive but was RIDICULOUS started with: ‘To whom this may concern’ and in the ‘who I’m looking for’ said they’d be ‘strangely attracted’ to a woman who ‘wears flowers in her hair.’ It’s extremely difficult to wear flowers in your hair, actually. I’ve only ever tried tucking a daisy behind my ear when I was very small but the bastards fall out surprisingly easily. Or the wind blows and they either blow away or your hair tangles round them so you’re left with petals sitting about for days. Anyway, he sounds like an idiot.
You will be tempted to overlook some of this nonsense because they look beautiful in their profile picture. If this happens, get a good friend to read out their profile to you. Sometimes hearing it aloud will make you realise that you’ve skimmed the worst bits, and you really can’t let yourself go on a date with someone who says that they ‘think thinky thoughts.’
People can look totally different in different photographs. Some profiles have five or six pictures, and it genuinely looks like a different person in each picture. It’s extremely confusing.
Most of the people who ‘like’ you will be at least five to ten years above your specified age range. And/or illiterate.
On good days, it’s fun, an ego boost, and a brilliant procrastination tool. But on bad days, it can make you feel like giving up trying to find someone entirely. Especially when people who seem nice turn out to utter tools, or just disappear as soon as you tentatively suggest meeting up. It is, as a friend said, ‘a total minefield’ with a ‘lack of respect and humility. There must be some decent people out there but they seem few and far between.’ I will keep looking as I have two weeks left that I’ve already paid for – but the jury is out on whether I’ll keep dodging bullets after that or whether I’ll have given up hope of ever finding anyone normal, bright, and with an ounce of respect for women.