Alternative Dating in the 21st Century

After the title of the previous post I was going to call this ‘Dishonest Dating in the 21st Century’ but that is not the case as I actually believe that there is more dishonesty on traditional dating sites. However, as one of the few honest men on the internet and whilst I was being singularly unsuccessful in my attempts at ‘Honest  Dating’ on I ventured onto a few other sites. Some were similar to mysinglefriend, some were a little more specialised and one, well one is still giving me nightmares.

The intention of many dating sites is to set people with life partners, soul mates or other long-term relationships. But some sites appear to focus on a more short term, immediate form of gratification. Suddenly the internet acronyms and abbreviations you have learnt elsewhere (e.g. LOL for ‘Laugh out Loud’ and not as I first thought ‘Lots of Love’- that misunderstanding nearly resulted in a truly embarressing moment) don’t work any more: Now you need to know NSA (‘No strings attached’), FWB (‘Friends With Benefits’) and many more. For the single man looking for uncommitted, passionate sex these sites would seem to be heaven. Except…..

Apparently there are lots of people out there willing to pretend to be something they are not in order to get hold of some of your money, there are people who judge their worth by the number of friends in their network (they remind me of the PUA’s from The Game) and there are people who are just plain weird. So instead of a paradise of likeminded souls you find yourself searching through profile after profile of bizarre characters. Even worse, as a single guy you are competing with a lot of other single guys. At one point I saw a man berating the lack of replies he was getting from women he was contacting. I, on the other hand, was experienced and was able to help this poor soul. What he had clearly not done was look at the statistics available on the site:

Single men looking for a woman: 1,543,867
Single women looking for a man: 95,235

Now I am pretty good at competing, but even I have to admit that greater than 15 men: 1 woman ratio is not the sort of numbers you want to see (as a comparison, mysinglefriend had 2:3 ratio of men to women i.e. more women than men on the site). In fact, the odds are so heavily stacked against you that you could even conclude that the whole site is simply a money generating exercise that preys on single men. When you consider that a good number of the ‘female’ profiles are actually men pretending to be women (yes, it does exist) or ‘honeypots’ who are there to attract more men the ratio becomes even worse. So, if you see an advert promising ‘Sex tonight in your town’ and you believe them… well you should probably also reply to some of the e-mails that will transfer money to your account from a west African country. Yes, hard as it may be to believe, the adverts lie.

And here is where life takes one its fantastic twists: Just as I was getting totally disillusioned with all forms of contact via the internet a curve came in from left field, took me quite by surprise and made me smile. But that is story best told to no-one more than the people involved…

Honest Dating in the 21st Century

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: 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

The Game, Facebook and Reluctant Learners

The more perceptive readers of this blog will have noticed a lack of posting since I stated that I was about to dive headlong into the crazy, mazy world of internet dating. Well, the two things are not just coincidental- because it takes a lot of time to play the game that is Dating via the Internet. However, I think I have managed to come to some conclusions about this particular method of attempting to find a life partner, a date or even a casual relation. And being the sort of chap I am, I just have to tell someone all that I have learned.

Before plunging into the story of my time on various websites (or ‘Disasters in Dating’ as it is known to various people) I need to go back in time and describe the experience I had of reading a book called ‘The Game’: It is an expose of the sub-culture of men who are ‘Pick Up Artists’ (or PUAs as you just knew they would call themselves). These men frequently judge their worth in life by the number of telephone numbers they can collect in an evening out. The more successful then judge themselves by the number (or sometimes the quality) of women that they have sex with. I was given this book and told to read it- which I duly did. The book was a fairly popular and on the New York Times bestseller list, but as I read I was revulsed by the way these men had broken down meeting, conversing and even bedding women into a process. And worse than that, it was a process that other men could pay to learn. It honestly made my skin crawl to read this and I felt embarressed and ashamed of my gender and the way it would manipulate people simply to get a phone number, steal a kiss or even get laid.

However, at least according to the book, many of these men were now much more successful with women and I was resolutely single. But I refused to try to learn the techniques as they were often, quite frankly, mean. Then a few weeks ago I was using Facebook and one of the adverts promised to explain the ’10 Most Common Mistakes that Men Make with Women’ (and who says that Facebook can’t target an audience with its ads!). Well, I was at home and had no fear of the consequences of clicking on a link, so I followed the hyperlink. I read through the list of 10 mistakes and they seemed to make sense- in fact I could see that I had made some of the mistakes. Wow, this seemed like the magic potion I needed to successful with the opposite, so I read who had written these 10 magic commandments. And somewhere, in the back of my mind a neuron fired and said “Hang on, you recognise that name” But where had I come across this all knowing author?

Yup, he was one the characters in The Game. Obviously I wasn’t going to subscribe to the website, after all, he and his like were the anti-Christ (and I don’t even believe in God). But now that I have been through the whole dating thing- I might grudgingly admit (though only on a bad day) that he and the other truly repulsive characters of The Game may have had a point after all. But that point is going to have to wait for another post