To an outsider, London is the best city in the world to be single, right? There are millions of hot singles and every opportunity to bump into Mr Right.
Its a minefield people.
My Irish experience of dating is somewhat different to the London way of dating. For one, before I came to London I had never really been out on a ‘date’ with someone I had never spoken to before. You would meet your friends for a night out, they would have a bigger group of friends……you would click with someone in the same crowd, have a cheeky kiss and then probably meet up again and eventually fall into boyfriend/girlfriend category.
Here you fall in love or lust at least a few times a day on the tube, only for them to disappear into oblivion at the next stop. The unspoken rules of tube etiquette means if someone makes eye contact with you more than twice, they are practically stalking you or you them and no one makes a move……
So you think to yourself, I’ll try something a bit different……lets give online dating a go – everyone is doing it and it sounds fun.However, it is a shallow world where, lets face it, the initial judgement is on how you look in your profile pics. If that piques someones interest, then the next hurdle is your little self promoting ‘sales’ piece which can be either completely cringe for many different reasons or can make you laugh out loud. I will always go with the latter – no one likes someone who takes themselves too seriously, but you also do not wish to have a man with the mindset of a teenager either……
So I decided to sign up to a few free sites to test the water – rookie error. The free sites attract every freak you can imagine. Guys who think the way to start a conversation is to tell you all their darkest desires or make a very personal comment to you…..and then wonder why you don’t respond. So I binned the free sites.
Go to plan B. I’ll try one of the biggest paid dating websites which you see advertised all over tube posters and TV, where they match you to your ‘perfect partner’ according to the 10,000 questions they ask you when you sign up. Filling in the questionnaires is tantamount to the process of applying for planning permission for an extension on your house – its never ending. Yet you still persevere and try to come up with your wittiest comments and pics so you can stand out from the sea of pouting duck faces you are up against in the line up.
And then you wait…….and its a bit of a bust. Yes you get lots of guys matching with you and wanting to speak to you which is great. This is where it gets tricky for me. I love humour and banter and they are deal breakers for me. Texting or Whats App can be slow and tedious and talking on the phone can be worse if you have someone pretty silent the other end. It doesn’t help that I have this need to fill silences, which is where the babbling starts………bum clenchingly awkward situations ensue.
However, even getting to the talking stage can be tricky and there are a lot of components (for me anyway) which make me swipe left or right. Lets talk profile pics & bio’s. Online dating is a fickle, judgemental world. There are several identifiers you will see as you scroll through hundreds of profiles on a bored Thursday night……….and yes I am a judgemental person sometimes, but in the world of online dating its kind of a given.
Welcome to the Online Dating Site museum………..
Exhibit A: The guy who has 4 pictures……and they are all group shots….with several of the same friends in each. Am I supposed to be psychic and know which one you are? Seriously? Swipe Left.
Exhibit B: The guy who is surrounded by a bevy of hot chicks in each shot. We get it…..you are a regular Casanova, fending off the advances of hundreds of girls every night you are out…….way too try hard…….and a bit creepy. Swipe Left.
Exhibit C: The Traveller/Lad pics/Car Pics/Topless Pics: Contains lots of shots of you posing with a drugged up tiger on your travels/at the Full Moon Party/Doing ‘mad’ stuff with your mates….but your profile says you are 41………Man Child. Oh and dont forget the posing by a flash car which probably isnt yours, or 20 topless mirror selfies which would give Kim Kardashian a run for her money. Swipe Left
Exhibit D: This is a cousin on Exhibit A. Lots of shots of you in the distance with some amazing scenery. Even if I zoom in I can just about make out you are human. Swipe Left for fear of accidentally being matched with a distant cousin or someone you know and desperately want to avoid. Yes London is a big place, but as lots of matches are done geographically, you would be surprised how many friends you see on dating sites. Declan in Accounts…..oh sh*t, I accidentally swiped right……..*never goes to work again*.
Exhibit E: The Guy Who Seems Normal & Turns Into A Sleaze. His pics look great, witty cleverly written bio. All seems normal and then he sends you something. You may think its enticing to send an unsolicited pic, but let me tell you, doing that is the human equivalent of a cat bringing you a dead mouse as a ‘gift’………..
Finally you connect with someone who is normal, doesnt look like Quasimodo on Acid and there is the initial convo and awkwardly arranging some sort of date which is equidistant for both of you and doesn’t involve travelling to Zone 6 for someone who may not even look like their profile pic…….
Exhausted yet? Then there is the date. There are nerves, anticipation, fear and every other feeling thrown in the mix. Will he look like his profile pic or will I have to keep drinking until he does? Will his voice be high pitched as we have only texted and I havent actually heard him speak? Will he stand up and be up to my shoulder? Then you turn things on yourself. Do I look like my profile pic? Have I put on weight since the last pic I put online? What if he doesn’t get my humour……..
And then it all goes well and is surprisingly easy and normal. Then you are at the post date stage………Do I message him or leave it a few days. Do I respond immediately to his message? What emoticon do I use 😉 Mmmmm, he has read my Whats App but hasnt responded in a few days………and the cycle begins all over again.
Reading back on this, I realise I make the online dating world sound so overcomplicated, and it can be. However, I know people who actively go on 4 dates in one week and love dating sites – its a law of averages really. The more dates you go on the more likely you are to meet someone who could be great. I am slowly but surely starting to change my mindset somewhat, as it can be a way of meeting great people and it can also be exciting to step into the unknown.
Plus, lets face it, if all comes to all and it does go to sh*t, then at least I will have some witty stories for the pub…..and that in itself is worth its weight in gold!