How the internet makes liars of us all

Putting yourself ‘out there’ on an online dating site is a little like climbing into a shop window and begging people to peruse you. Most love-seeking sites have an engine which matches you and any potential suitors – I call them suitors as it’s about as romantic or fairy-tale as this experience gets – based on the 1,001 questions you have answered on signing up. Don’t like smokers, railway enthusiasts or people who read a lot? No problem! The website’s magic matchmaking elves will ensure you never see them in your search results, their profiles hidden from view like the ugly stepchild in the cellar.

What this does mean is that regular users of the site will get wise to this, and may start to manipulate the data to make sure they get more eyes on their profile. I know, it sounds dreadfully dishonest doesn’t it? Continue reading How the internet makes liars of us all

Five reasons we can never be together

I never dreamed it would come to this. Even though we’ve never met, have never had that first flush of exciting romance and have even yet to share our very first kiss, I’m already thinking about the end. Yes, my non-existent boyfriend who never happened, I’m afraid that, for you, the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the open air – it’s an oncoming train.

It’s not you, it’s… well, it’s everything you do. Even though you are a virtual man and have no corporeal form, I feel it’s important to tell you why we can never be together. It’s because you do one or more of these things. Chances are if you do all five, we shouldn’t be speaking in the first place. If you did exist, this is why I would be dumping you right now.

1. You use fake tan
I get it. It’s never sunny here, and trips away to international sun traps can be expensive and sunbeds potentially fatal. Your skin is so pale it usually has a blueish tinge, so it’s easy to see why you reached for the fake bake and covered yourself in what is little more than a vat of odd-smelling orange paint. Thing is, you’re not a beach hut, it’s unsexy and you look like a tangerine. Also, you’ve not done it right, so you have a white chin but a face like a Jaffa Cake. Oh, and you forgot to do your shins too. I prefer alabaster to a lighter shade of barbecue. Embrace your lily-white epidermis or get the hell out. Continue reading Five reasons we can never be together

How to be rejected

For most people, dating is a two-way thing.

Unless you’re a caveman bashing his paramour over the head with a club and dragging them back to your dank dwelling or a dodgy pervert – or premiership footballer – with an endless supply of rohypnol, the object of your affection is going to have to like you back before anything can happen.

Although I’d like to pretend that every guy I date falls madly in love with me after two drinks and calls me persistently, begging me to go on another date with them, the reality is that at least 50% of the time, Mr Tonight isn’t really interested in me.

Usually, that’s just fine, as I’m not into them either, but sometimes I’ll be on the wrong end of the dreary dullness that is unrequited attraction. And, oh, how it hurts. It’s the romantic equivalent of a thousand paper cuts.

If it’s any consolation, with a little bit of practice, you get over it really quickly, depending on the method of rejection. Forewarned is forearmed, of course, and most things are easier to deal with if you’re expecting them. Well, maybe. Here’s how to spot when the great big elbow is heading your way, or at least a few ways you can find out if you’re ever going to see his face again. Continue reading How to be rejected

The Banker

Stats: 5’8″, 38, greying/blue, Essex
When: July 2011
Where: Pimlico, SW1
Pre-date rating: 6/10

So we’re on another summer of “yes”, it would seem. My iPhone calendar heaves with dates and I’m looking as ravaged as only one can when one has been necking beers in a variety of pubs with a slew of strangers.

As a result of my packed schedule, which I pore over with all the enthusiasm of a dead cat, it is a few weeks between arranging a date with The Guy and actually going on it. He first contacts me during a busy period at work. He says the usual intro stuff: he likes my profile, I seem interesting, would like to know more – truly the “Do you come here often?” of the internet dating world. I peruse his profile and he seems nice, intelligent, friendly. He doesn’t look anything special on his pictures but my recent experience has shown that pictures are so ridiculously unrepresentative of the men who post them that he may well be an adonis in the flesh. Yeah, I know. I live in hope, at least

Anyway, we exchange a few pleasantries over email and then he goes in with the whammy of asking me out on a date. I think about this. If I’m honest with myself, which is always important but devastatingly rare, I don’t really want to go. He’s a little older than I am looking for, and beyond the niceties we’ve exchanged, I’m struggling to see what we’ll have in common. I do, however, feel that I have led him on slightly by keeping up the dialogue. By now we have taken it to email, as his subscription on the dating site was about to expire. He mails me again and suggests meeting for dinner in Pimlico. Shit. For some reason it is beyond my capability to refuse him outright. So, turning gradually more yellow by the second, I avoid the email for a couple of days. He sends the exact same email again. Continue reading The Banker

The Latecomer

Stats: 5’9″, 26, mousey/blue, London
Where: Exmouth Market
When: October 2010
Pre-date rating: 6/10

After a frantic August and a much quieter September, October comes into view at full throttle. I line up three dates in the space of a week and the third one, on the Friday, is This Guy. Our communication so far has been fairly one-sided; out of the 3 dates I’ve arranged, he’s the one I’m less interested it. I’m also dreading the thought of polluting my liver once again so am not particularly keen to waste another £30 or so getting pissed in a pub on the off-chance that the stranger chatting awkwardly opposite me might one day be Mr Right.

He is another one of my young ones. I don’t know how or why they are so interested in me. I’m old. I thought younger people didn’t remotely care what their elders had to say. Maybe he wants to re-enact the Werther’s Original advert, with me in the role of kindly grandfather, patting him on the head and offering him sugary toffees in order to stop him pointing out my greying hair.

As a result of my lack of interest, I realise I know absolutely nothing about this man as I arrive at our arranged meeting point. For some reason, I have broken my rule about having a dinner-free first date – probably because he suggested it and I am too polite (ha!) to rebuff him – and we are to meet at a fashionable new tapas place. It’s the kind of place you can’t book so have to hang around the doorway like a depressed security guard until a table is available. As I arrive, he texts and say he’s going to be a little late. I roll my eyes and put my name on the list of people waiting for a table. The waiter says I can go to the pub and they’ll call me when the table is ready. I don’t want to go to the pub – well, not on my own anyway. I can do that any night of the week. However, the risk of looking like I have been stood up and hovering over people eating their calamari is not one I’m prepared to take, and I trudge off in silent fury to the nearest decent pub I know.  Continue reading The Latecomer

Dating 101: How to be a bad date

I do not advocate rudeness on dates. Even if the guy sitting opposite you is a crashing bore, with chronic halitosis and a set of teeth like an overloaded dish rack, I just like to sit it out. Why make someone else feel like shit just because you’re having a bad time? But, if you are determined to make sure that this is a one-off date with no hope of repeats or returns, there are a few things you can do to try to make sure that your date is put off you for ever. How do I know? Most of them happened to me, that’s how. So here are five to start you off:

1. Talk, without pause for breath, about how amazing your life is and how glorious it is to be you. Yes, nobody loves a negative Norman, but there’s a time and a place to give it the big “I am” and the first date isn’t it. Example quotes:

“And so my boss said to me ‘You’re just so talented’ and he was totally right because the reaction – well, it was just breathtaking. I’ve had comments from all over the world saying just how inspiring it was just to hear about even a small part of what I’d done.”

“It’s so hard for me because I get a lot of attention from men, and I mean A LOT.” Continue reading Dating 101: How to be a bad date

The Backpacker

Stats: 26, 6’3″, blond/blue, Home Counties
When: August 2010
Where: South bank, London
Pre-date rating: 8/10

It’s always surprising when someone gets in touch who you may, at one point, have considered to be out of your league. In an utterly pointless act of ‘playing hard to get’, I have resolved not to add any new men as ‘favourites’ and instead see if they come to me. After all, the first law of internet dating appears to be “The ones you like, don’t like you”, so I figure it’s time to see who likes me. It hasn’t yet occurred to me that I could be faced with months and months of silence, the email inbox where I receive the dating site notifications acquiring a fine layer of dust, with a lone spider building a cobweb just above the last message received: a junk email telling me that the O2 is having a line-dancing extravaganza.

Happily, I never get to find out as my first bite on the line is The Guy, an impossibly tall handsome young man who travels a lot. He sends me the usual email and I am baffled as to why on Earth he would be remotely interested in me. Maybe he likes older, shorter men with lines so deep their faces look like a carving of the London Underground map. We each express an interest in meeting up and then the conversation stops dead – he doesn’t reply and I don’t prod or chase. I’m playing hard to get, remember. I am just about to file him away under “Looks like someone better came along” when he gets in touch. He’s been away travelling as he is writing a book. His time has been taken up with that and he hasn’t had a chance to answer emails but now he has, and would I like to meet up this time? I would, so I say so.  The date is set for a Wednesday evening and, thanks to it being a scorching week, he settles on the south bank, at the bar in the British Film Institute. I groan inwardly. The south bank is always too busy on a sunny evening and has been the scene for some truly terrible dates. He’s not to know that of course, so I say how GREAT that will be and that I’ll see him then. I read through his profile once again, to refamiliarise myself with his stats and all that. He seems to be very much an outdoorsy type – a fact I must have glossed over when he first got in touch. But this is OK. I go outside quite a lot: to the shop, to the pub, you know – the great outdoors. Continue reading The Backpacker

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