Back in the game (again)

So, readers I have dipped my toe in to the murky water of internet dating again. When will I ever learn? It’s a dodgy world of players, chancers, the emotionally vulnerable, the deluded, the desperate and the fibbers. Somehow, you have to try to sift through all these undesirable weeds to find a decent one. I still believe there are a few diamonds in the rough, but need the secret formula to  smoke them out.

Entering this for the second or third time, I have become more discerning in what I want from the multitude of dating sites out there.

Five months ago I was full of high hopes when I joined a particular site, one I had heard anecdotally had been a great success for many people. It is the sort favoured by left-wing broadsheet readers in medical, legal, creative and media professions. I thought “here’s the place to meet an intelligent, interesting chap, who could debate the world’s issues and hopefully read up on witty seduction techniques!”

I was wrong. The majority I came across were pretentious bores – writing clever lists of their interests, saying things like “I prefer Waitrose to Aldi” or “My date must be able to discuss Nietzche, appreciate Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor and know the difference between a Bordeaux and a Merlot.” Well, either that or a good 20 per cent of them pretended they were 20 years younger than their actual ages; and as I have always suspected those of my own age are looking for younger fillies to make babies with and to massage their egos.

There was also a long period when nothing happened at all. I got bored flicking through the almost identical lists of hobbies and “thanks for stopping bys” and seeing the pop-up messages from old men, saying they were 49, when they were actually 69.

So, after five months wasting my time – the old corresponding-with-someone-who-disappears-after-a-couple-of-weeks thing and two dates with one guy, who was lovely but with whom I had nothing in common – I decided to defect.

Now I am back on one of the biggest dating sites around (I am not naming any of these places, by the way). In just a couple of weeks it has been like moving from the Outer Hebrides to Times Square. Around eight people ‘view’ my profile every day, I receive a couple of messages a day and, when life is hectic enough with the daily routine, it’s impossible to keep up. There is still a need to sift out the diamonds, but at least here, there is more choice and not all the decent ones live 200 miles away.

I have been here, before, though and know there are many, many chancers – with higher membership, there’s a higher twat rating, a higher number of kidders and a higher number of delusionals who think they can pretend to be younger, better looking and more interesting. So we will have to wait and see.

Life was so much simpler when there were more crowded rooms to stand in and find someone’s eyes to meet…

Over and out?

Apparently there is no point going on the internet to find a potential partner, if you are a woman in her 40s – so says a newspaper article I found during a casual internet browse.

I won’t disclose the wording I typed in my search box, but it included the words “is there any point…” And the computer said “no”.

The writer had interviewed a range of women over 40, some divorced, some widowed, some who had never had long-term relationships, some who had. But all had tried online dating, as it was probably the best option when the number of fish in the sea are depleted or damaged and they have been saddled with full custody of the kids/ailing parents.

And what is the problem? Why aren’t these attractive, experienced and interesting women not getting anywhere? Because, we are led to believe, men of the same age are all looking for younger women. They don’t want the crow’s feet, mummy-tummy, comes-with-kids-and-elderly-parents package. They want nubile, bouncy young things with pert boobs and bums, who still have an optimistic, non-cynical approach to life and are not weighed down with personal baggage.

One woman said something like: “The only way forward is to go for someone older. But I don’t want to meet someone in their 60s, I want a man my own age.”

So, men, here’s your right to reply. Is this true? Do men in their 30s and 40s just want fresh meat?

At least one of the women interviewed said she was so disheartened by the whole thing that she had given up entirely on ever finding that special someone.

I am not saying this article was completely accurate, but a recent foray into online dating suggests that it wasn’t far from the mark. In my mind I divided the profiles offered to me as matches into three categories – the hotties (probably totally out of my league), the oks (not Brad Pitt, but had nice smiles/eyes/hair and something good in their testimonials, e.g. they could spell) and the no-ways.

Not one hotty approached me, but I wasn’t surprised by this, as I am fully aware that I am probably a six out of ten. But what was more disheartening was that very few oks bothered either. I seemed, instead, to be inundated with ‘likes’ and messages from the no-ways, the majority of which appeared to have knocked at least ten years off the age they actually were. Just about all of them claimed to be at the top end of my specified age range, but I would wager, from the white beards and turtle neck jumpers, that at least a quarter of them were a few years older.

I am not one to discriminate on age (although I can see why one would think so from the tone of this post) but I do value having some common ground with a guy – whether its enjoying the same music, having watched the same children’s TV programmes, being able to go on a bike ride together etc. There may be men of 60 who have boundless energy, but how much would we really have to talk about? And what would the sex be like? I have supported senior sex in earlier posts so maybe I should keep an open mind, but I’m sorry older guys – I want a chance at hooking up with someone closer to my own age.

But here’s the hypocrisy – and I am certain other ladies are guilty of the same thought: If I was offered the chance of a short-term fling with a 25-year-old fella, I would struggle to turn it down. But I do say fling – I cannot envisage a long-term relationship with someone so young. I would expect him to get bored and make off with a bouncy young thing at the earliest opportunity. Yes, there are relationship s like this that work, but they are in a minority.

So, should we all just give up if we end up single in middle age and throw our energies into career, kids, craft and cats – and try to find alternative fulfilment? Do men always have the lion’s share of the dating world? I want someone to come up with a counter-argument that dispels this theory.

Cyber crush

Q: Is it possible to fancy someone you have never actually met, merely through the words they have typed on a screen and a couple of blurry photographs?

A: It would seem so. But in the relative security of exchanging messages at home, without having to get dressed, speak, let alone spend hours prettifying/planning conversational topics and the job-interview-over-dinner trial of a first date, anything is possible.

So, readers, some time ago, I announced that I was entering the largely dark and nocturnal world of internet dating. And this is where I am with it right now – typing messages to total strangers for whom all I have to go on are (mostly) poor quality photos and their names, heights, interests and ages. For some, disclosing just this is too onerous a task – the odd one or two just display their name, age and no photo, yet they expect someone to go out on a date with them. How naïve and desperate do they think women are? While for some, they attempt a photo, but lack the common sense skills to choose a suitable one. Examples on the cheap and cheerful site I have joined include a man in a Santa hat, one standing at least half a mile from the camera so all one sees of him is a dot in a green field, one gulping down a pint of beer so only his eyes and top of head are visible and one in a fancy dress costume wearing a mask!

Yes, it should all be about personality, but you need a visual to at least distinguish one ‘profile’ from another. And even if you are judging on character alone, many can’t be bothered completing the ‘tell us a bit about yourself’ box, so expect someone to choose them just from their height, age and marital status. Others will say ‘wud u like 2 have sum fun? Then chuse me.’ Or ‘looking for my Miss Right.’ And that’s it. My selection criteria at least requires them to say a bit more, be able to spell reasonably well and demonstrate some personality in their statements. It is surprising how few of them do just this.

Then, when there is some interaction it is like a strange game. I have received some odd messages – ‘How ya doing?’; ‘Wud u like 2 chat?’; ‘You live near me, would you like to meet?’ etc. The more normal ones I respond to begin a chat, we exchange a few comments then frequently they just disappear and stop corresponding. This is a little frustrating when I have spent time and effort trying write in a witty and charming way (as you can imagine, readers, this is no mean feat for me). The reality, probably, is that the glamorous blonde they keep clicking on has finally given in and decided to get in touch and send a private shot of her left nipple. So, despite persevering with this strange pastime for almost two months, I have still not been on a date.

But, things have not been a total disaster (although I do keep wondering why I didn’t join a better-known site like Guardian Soulmates) and I am currently having almost daily online conversations with one person. I am reluctant to say much about him, as I don’t want to jinx anything and, at present, I only have good things to say.

What I can say is that we began very coyly, both of us wary of revealing too much, but as time has moved on we know so much about each other, that it is almost like we have already met. We have covered all our interests, work, families, films, books, underwear… and then we began talking about sex. I have not reinvented myself as a demure, innocent young thing, but a lady needs to hold back a little, doesn’t she, readers? He wanted to cover all sorts on this topic – such as revealing each other’s fantasies, but it was I, the self-proclaimed drunken slut, who had to rein things in. I firmly, but nicely suggested this was something for ‘later on’. He sheepishly retreated and changed the subject.

I do admit, though, that the direction of the exchange did get me a little hot under the collar, even though the whole thing was being carried out on a computer screen over a couple of nights. Then, despite us behaving ourselves, our next conversation seemed to be littered with innuendo, such as me talking about a ‘nice warm shower’ and him pondering what underwear I had on.

The situation is an odd one, and one unique to the 21st century, I feel, as we have as yet never ever met. We certainly plan to, but is so much knowledge of one another an advantage or a hindrance? Will we have nothing to talk about or will this online acquaintance mean we can launch into a conversation without any small talk or awkward silences? Will we even fancy each other – couple of blurry photos is very little to go on. Maybe he will see me walking towards him and make a run for it.

The nerves have set in and I now have to wait a few weeks before the ‘big reveal’.
Just do me a favour, dear readers, if you run into him, don’t mention the blog – shhh!

Time for another party dress

Traffic is not really passing along DSM’s ‘street of love and lust’ – maybe the odd rag and bone cart or milk float, but nothing she wants to flag down.

So, I have decided I have to actively seek out another street, somewhere with moving vehicles, even if they are just five-door hatchbacks or vintage classics. I have never been impressed by flashy cars – ‘penis extensions’, as my male pals, who can’t afford them, say.

Shedding the metaphor-speak, dear confused readers, what I mean is that, because I need to make things happen to avoid dying alone, I am dipping my toe into internet dating for one last time. I had a go three or four years ago without much joy. There were dates, yes, but some lacked chemistry and some lied about their weight, hobbies etc. and used ancient photos to the extent that when I went to meet them, I could not even recognise them. It’s a good job I was telling the truth or we would both have thought we had been stood up.

Yes, I had a couple of brief entanglements lasting several weeks, but one was still not over his marriage break-up and would spend at least half an hour of our time ranting about his latest run-in with the ex: “She said this and she said that and look at this note she wrote me…” While I discovered after three weeks of seeing the other one that, as well as being a shy IT engineer, he was also a member of a football ‘firm’ and far right wing organisation and enjoyed spending weekends pummelling people.

So, this is why I have taken a while to venture out into this murky world again. That and the fact that The Man was, for some time, catering for many (but not all) of my needs.

I haven’t actually been on any dates as yet, but I intend, this time, to approach things cautiously. There are also many chaps (and probably ladies too) who are not completely honest in these forums. Let’s face it – you could be a 20-stone hairy gorilla called Alfred but have an internet persona of blonde, leggy Cynthia who enjoys picnics and spa breaks. Who would know?

First and most recent impressions are that it is a little like choosing a nice dress for a party – do you go for something comfy and familiar, which you know will suit you, but is rather like everything else in your wardrobe? Or on another rack there is something a little different, perhaps in a cut and style you wouldn’t normally go for, but if you try it on it may look pretty good, highlight your best features, even. Otherwise there is that really striking sequinned frock in the corner which has caught your eye, but is it actually designed for someone much younger and slimmer?

Choices, choices… Then it’s all a complete waste of time, effort and planning (as anyone knows if they have to negotiate childcare before they can even imagine leaving the house alone) if it all goes belly-up. And the odds are that it will. When you are meeting a random person and you have chosen one another based on a badly-taken ‘selfie’, your common interest in Emily Brontë and the fact that you both wanted to meet someone aged 35-50.

I am of course secretly hoping that my life will one day turn into a romantic comedy and I will meet a handsome stranger (around 5ft 10 – 6ft 3, blue eyes, brown hair, likes Mexican food and Mumford and Sons) when he clips my car in the NCP car park or I drop my bananas in the supermarket… But until then, I will carry on looking at different party dresses.