There are more dating and relationship sites on the internet than any sane man would wish to count. Some of them are ‘good’, some are focussed on a particular niche in the whole panorama that is men and women trying to find that special someone for whatever they need and some web sites, well some web sites are just downright scary (and I have been in some really, genuinely frightening situations in my life, but trust me, I’d rather face that loaded and angry AK-47 again that go back to 1 particular web site)
Which web site you use to find your partner of choice depends on what you are looking for: As I started into it, I wanted a ‘normal’, ‘proper’ (‘dull’?) relationship with a woman. And so I chose a fairly normal site: mysinglefriend.com. A friend of mine wrote my profile and duly posted it on my behalf. And I sat back waiting for the hot dates to come flooding in…..
Yeah, that wasn’t gonna happen, now was it. So I started to send messages to women who appeared to meet my criteria. The first few messages were like entries on this blog- a bit wordy at times, occasionally making a good point but (I like to think) an overall reflection of my character. Except that I wasn’t getting any responses and each message was taking ages to compose. Then one of the women to whom I had written to replied to me: She politely rejected me (she was a bit out of my league anyway, but you always shoot high at first) and then went on to say that my message was far too long and I should read the help files on the web site. What? There is a help section? Damn, I should probably read that- and read it I did where it pointed out what I was doing wrong:
Point 1. When you first make contact, the message needs to be no more than a couple of paragraphs.
This makes sense as, speaking from personal experience, the chances are, that your ideal woman (or man) is going to take one look at you and go “Oh no. Nope, not a chance.” Or words to that effect. So there is no point in putting in your life history.
So I shortened my opening gambit. Which was a good job because….
Point 2. If you aren’t getting anyone checking you out then the web site advises that you send 10 messages a day to 10 different women
I guess they had to make it clear about sending the messages to different women because 10 messages a day to the same woman is probably grounds for a restraining order. But the vaguely stalkerish element to this approach notwithstanding, this is where I started to have a little issue with the internet dating scene. The very nature of sending this number of messages means that you are going to get multiple replies. I didn’t send anything like that number (don’t worry the stats will be produced later) but even so my ‘moral code’ was stretched as I found myself conducting fairly flirtatious conversations with multiple women. Sure it did wonders for the self esteem, but I worried (though it must be said, not much) that I was just playing and dabbling rather than making a commitment. In the past I had always focussed my entire attention on a single woman (though that may explain my lack of success) but now I was flitting from woman to woman: Some were replying to the first message, some were replying lots and lots and the prospects looked good and every now and then there was a series of messages that I just knew were going nowhere, but it seemed harmless to continue the electronic conversation. I am not at all proud of my behaviour during this period of internet dating but the facts are what they are.
Point 3. There is an accepted rate at which messages sent on a dating site should switch from (hopefully) funny, to mildly flirtatious and then on to wherever you wish to take it. My personal experience was that light flirting should begin almost straight away but full on comments should be saved for message 3-4. Converting that into something a little more steamy depends on the number of additional phone calls, SMS messages and the way in which the first flirts are received.
Point 4. Once you have established this rapport the ‘standard’ dating scene of coffee/ lunch for a first date (or a walk around an art gallery/ country park) then a follow up for dinner (or a movie/ theatre trip) kicks in. However, these dates are very different from those where you truly have only met the other person once or twice. The nature of the communication via the dating site frequently means that may have disclosed far more about you than in a normal dating situation because you will have sent several possibly long messages and frequently conducted long (long!) phone calls. In my experience when you meet someone in the ‘real’ world you won’t have discussed deep emotional aspects of your life by the end of the 2nd date.
Or maybe you will have, what I do know is that the insecurity engendered by meeting someone through a dating site can mean that there is a level of mistrust that can kill a relationship before it starts.
I understand that people may mistrust the system and no-one has any reason to place any explicit in trust in someone you meet through the internet, but equally there should be no reason to mistrust someone. And here is the real challenge for men who try to date: There are an awful lot of men who lying, deceitful, shallow and downright despicable scuzz buckets. And far too many of them are out there trying to pick up women. What this does is that the few honest ones (and I am not even sure I am totally honest) are tarred with the same brush. When it comes to dating on the internet, as a gender, men are not to be trusted and extensive checks need to be made before embarking on any sort of relationship. I have generally told potential dates about this blog and those that have read it sometimes start to feel more comfortable with me- I don’t have anything to hide, I don’t think I am (too) scary and what you see is pretty much what you get.
But I am clearly in the minority in this situation. It’s actually a minor miracle I managed to find anyone willing to take a chance on me. To those women who were brave enough to have a drink with me, I say thank you. To anyone else, well clearly this wordy, geeky, frisbee playing dual nationality man is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I am OK with that. What I still struggle with was the overlap of women. The only way to prevent this is to fully exhaust each possible relationship before starting on another. But that takes time and the word exhaust is perfectly apt: Dating via the internet is a tiring activity- and the fact that there is a level of duplicity stretched this man’s moral code and honesty streak to its limits