Thursday, 28 March 2013

Misadventures in internet dating

Ah, internet dating.  Where would we be without it?  Over the past ten years I have repeatedly dipped my toe into the murky pools that are Match, Guardian Soulmates, Ok Cupid and Free Dating, with varying* levels of success. 

I first tried online dating when it was still in its infancy, around 2004.  Things did not begin well.  The first guy I met seemed fantastic; we talked on the phone and seemed to get on, so he came to Leicester for a drink.  A great night followed.  Lots of chatting, a few kisses (I was much bolder in those days), and when he missed the last train home and I offered him a bed for the night, I was ever so proud of myself for not having sex with him and ruining a promising thing.  Second date... he told me he was gay.

I took a break for a year or so before giving Match a go.  This established a pattern for the next eight years: sign up with a service, go on a few terrible dates, have a year-long break - just long enough to forget how horrendous the experience is - before being tempted back to begin the whole cycle over again.  Over the years I...

... met up with a charmer who hadn't even bothered to take off his wedding ring.

... went on a first date with a guy who told me that he admired Hitler's powers of organisation.  There was no second date.

... listened to someone talk about his ex-girlfriend for a good two hours before I could escape.

... got to the snogging stage with one guy who, on the first (and last) night we kissed, declared, "I can locate the clitoris with my tongue in under ten seconds".  Erm, thanks but no thanks (and also, this is what passes for a boast nowadays?!).

To be entirely fair, I wasn't always the innocent party on these bad dates.  On one occassion the guy drove all the way from Peterborough for lunch, only to find me horrendously hungover and trying very hard not to vomit into my falafel.  I dated another person for longer than I should have, just because we made a shit hot team at the local pub music quiz.  Once we hit the jackpot and won the cash prize, it was bye bye to him.

By 2010 I was thoroughly fed up with the whole shebang.  My best friend, Cara, had struck online dating gold; meeting her now-fiancee just as she was about to give up on it all.  I figured she'd used up the internet dating luck in our group and that I should just retire gracefully to live out my days alone.  Deleting all my profiles, I took a longer-than-usual break.

Two years passed, and after doing some thinking about what I wanted from life (ok, after one too many Saturday nights home alone), I decided to give it one more try.  I'd heard good things about OK Cupid, so I set up a profile and waited for the usual mixture of x-rated missives that made me want to vomit, vaguely promising overtures from guys who always seemed to work in IT, and the occasional message that actually got my heart racing.  To begin with, it was really the same old same old.  A few fleeting meet-ups with guys who were clearly not for me.   A few email flirtations that never seemed to go anywhere; that I wasn't convinced I wanted to go anywhere.  And then, as I was just about to give it all up once again, he came along.

Because yes, I am now that rare beast: an internet dating success story.  What made it work, at last, when all other attempts had gone so badly?  I think it was a combination of things.  After years of being very happily single, I was finally ready to commit.  The pleasure I took in my own company - the joy of doing things like travelling alone - had started to pall, and I had reached a point where I definitely wanted to be with someone.  OK Cupid was the best of the dating websites, too, with a system of seemingly endless questions which led to surprisingly accurate matches (The Boy and I are a 99% match, according to their algorithms).  Last, but by no means least, is the fact that I met him.  That 99% match thing is no joke: we really are perfect for each other.

Never mind that it took us six long weeks (and at least twelve dates) to get round to admitting we liked each other**.  Never mind that I spent a lot of those six weeks wailing to my friends (and on Twitter - overshare much, Janet?) "Why won't he kiss me?!"  Never mind that, by the end of those six weeks, I had firmly placed him back into the friendzone, so convinced was I that he didn't fancy me.  We got there in the end. 

Do you want to hear something really annoying though?  I'm the first person that The Boy ever met through internet dating; so as far as he is concerned, the whole thing is EASY.

* and by 'varying', I mean 'no' levels of success (with one glaring and obvious exception).
** this is what happens when you put two shy and socially awkward people together: our 'moves' consisted of sitting on a slightly closer sofa cushion and then wondering why the other one hadn't picked up on our overtures!  He ended up having to send me a message telling me he liked me, because apparently we are both still in middle school.


  1. Aww bless! Thats from the girl with a heart of stone and no sense of romance! So glad it worked out for you. x

    1. Hehe, thanks Helen. Glad I have melted your heart of stone briefly!

  2. LOVED reading this - very well written

    I hear mixed reviews of internet dating, but know of quite a few success stories

    I wonder what percentage of compatibility me and my boyfriend would have on that test!


    1. Thanks!

      The question-based matching system is probably not brilliant science, but it definitely helped me weed out the weirdos. My favourite questions included 'should burning your country's flag be illegal' and 'would you rather lose the right to vote or to bear arms'. Methinks Americans write a lot of them (And believe it or not, there are British people who answer that they'd rather lose the right to vote... maybe they don't realise what 'arms' means!)

  3. It's so nice to hear an internet dating success story!

    I definitely identify with the giving-up-giving-it-a-go see saw...right now I'm at the "meh" stage.

    1. As tempting as it is to say, "I'm sure it'll work for you soon" I used to HATE being told that! Grrr, I do not want to become one of those smug marrieds. Have a fab time being single instead!

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  5. Just got round to reading this (after being so slow with catching up with my own blog, never mind reading others'!). That is a little annoying that you had to go through all of that nonsense whereas he hit the jackpot straight off, but no doubt worth it! :D It's a great story.

    Maybe I'll hang in there a little longer with this internet dating malarky then!

    Jen |