The nightmare of online dating

Ok, well for those of you that said I was being over optimistic with the dating of ‘my new Indian male interest,’  err, well you were right. It lasted three weeks, to the day.

Good thing, probably, as neither of us wasted the other’s time. It ended over text message, as so many relationships (and divorces) do. (At least it wasn’t over a change in someone’s Facebook status!). I was left completely unscathed actually as three weeks is not enough time to develop any serious feelings for someone anyway (unlike one year…)
In fact, my feelings for him were zero. I had clearly been in love with ‘romance’ rather than with him, it turned out.

But realising I was quite up for some excitement in my personal life, I decided to give Internet dating a go. And so I registered on a site, and paid for one of those three month subscriptions. I have only ever been on such sites once before. On that occasion, I didn’t pay – instead I went on for free and just got spammed with emails from unsuitable matches in places like Afghanistan on a daily basis, and couldn’t actually contact anyone myself. On that occasion the guy had phoned me.

So, this time I decided to pay and do it properly.

And, what I have discovered is, and didn’t know, is that online dating has as many rules as physical dating, it’s just they are different.

I hit my first stumbling block when I had to fill in a massive section on my hobbies. This included questions as to whether I enjoyed snowboarding, hiking, waterski-ing, bridge, poker, the list went on. At that point I suddenly froze, as I realised that much as I consider myself to be interesting, I actually don’t have any hobbies at all! My only hobby is reading newspapers and writing, but if the truth be told that is my job! When I was younger I had, of course, all kinds of hobbies. As a child, indeed, I had weekly ballet, piano and tennis lessons. At university I ran the Japanese society, the shiatsu society, directed and acted in plays and wrote for the student newspapers. That was all apart from studying Japanese for my degree. But since becoming a journalist, I have not managed to keep up a single hobby. In my spare time, what do I do? I meet friends in cafes or bars. Or go to the gym, sleep, skype people in England, or buy cat food in the pet shop. I do not actively go hiking or act in plays, as I think I do, or would like to think I do. Sure, I go and see plays at the Prithvi Theatre sometimes, I even went to see a pianist perform at the NCPA last Friday, so there is an element of culture in my life, but otherwise my lack of hobbies is disappointing. (Do most people maintain a string of hobbies once they are grown up???)

So, what I did in this section was tick things I had maybe done once. Waterskiing? Sure, aged 15 on a Mark Warner holiday, I even ‘drop skiiied.’ Tick. Painting? Sure, at school I did Art A level, and got an A grade. Tick. Yoga? Sure, aged 23 I had done yoga. Tick. Hiking? Sure, I hiked once in the Himalayas and hung in Manali, aged 19. Tick. So, the final picture of me was of someone fairly interesting.

I checked out all the men’s profiles and despite looking fairly unfit and average, they all claimed to be playing badminton, cricket, mountain hiking, running, playing rugby, skiing, snorkelling, fishing and playing tennis on a regular basis.

They also incidentally described themselves as ‘above average’ and ‘attractive’ in the looks department.

I was thinking, if these guys are so good-looking and maintain such amazing jobs,(they are seemed to be designers, or in executive management) and so interesting as they all participated in 100 hobbies, – why aren’t they all taken?

Now some of the profiles looked like they had been professionally written (I have heard you can pay for ghost writers to do this)…they were not real – and read like a self help book on relationships.

For example, one man wrote: “I have a need to laugh regularly and don’t take life or myself too seriously unless required. I am as comfortable on a muddy country walk as I am in a stylish boutique hotel. I enjoy evenings in with good wine and company, as much as I do going out. I am equally happy gardening and cooking as partying with friends. I enjoy being in a favourite city, but also love the countryside, mountains, sea etc.”

I just honestly don’t believe a normal guy would write like this.

One positive was most of the British men on the site seemed to like cats, unlike their Indian counterparts. There weren’t just British men there, of course. There was one guy in Palestine, who wrote, “It may be a strange place to be, constantly getting fired by bullets, but I am looking for a woman who…” I was like ‘Whoah…” An Indian guy had written: “I am not looking for a party type, but a stay-at-home homely girl.”

Anyway, the worst part about it was, that like real dating, if you don’t play the game, you are shafted. I had thought online dating would be different, an easy way out, the way to get 100 men messaging you in one go. I was wrong.

In my case, straight away I marked 30 men as my ‘favourites’, switched the computer off and went on the next day.

You see now that I was paying, I kind of expected results. I mean I was expecting that after my grand presence on the site for 24 hours, I would find that I had 30 people who had marked me as their favourites too.

But in reality the only ‘news update for me’ when I switched on a day later was that not a single person had marked me down as a favourite. A couple of 50-year-olds had viewed my profile and that was it.

So, I went and checked the profile that I had posted about myself and what I said I was looking for and wondered if it needed toning down a bit. In the ‘what I was looking for’ part I saw had gone on at great length about how I wanted a guy from Oxbridge, privately educated, with good table manners, who owned a property, was solvent and preferably ‘comfortable’ on the wealth front, who liked cats, and could cook, and was living in the UK. I wrote that we could have a relationship over Skype and email, and then fly to meet each other, if things seemed to work out. Upon rereading it, I thought I came across as rather fussy and demanding and some men might get put off by the list of requirements. (The fact that not one of my ex boyfriends matches these critieria was neither here nor there when I originally wrote it.)

Being a woman, and wondering what else I was doing wrong, I decided I better check out the competition. So, I searched for a woman of my age to see what was out there. Some women had pictures posted of themselves I would never dream of putting up. One woman was a blond bombshell (with peroxided hair, please note – unlike mine) in a silk mini dress by a pool. She was the most popular woman on the site, the site claimed. Do men really go for such women?????? Another girl had a really edgy message – all about “I’m sure you are someone who would never wear hair gel.”

Another said: “At home with the visual arts; painting, sculpture and architecture. Adores music from Bowie to Rachmaninoff.” Who?

Another had one of those professional-looking ghost-written profiles, that said: “Busy professional attractive female with a warm and caring personality looking forward to meeting new people and making new friends. I can offer a tolerant and philosophical approach to life and…” Who writes like that? Honestly?

So, after a few days, I figured that men are ‘hunters’ and we women are meant to be ‘hunted’ and by marking the men as my favourites, I had taken away the challenge of being ‘hunted’ (similar to women that sleep with men on the first date.) So, that was my mistake number one. It kind of got worse as after seven days, I had received just one message. It was (I am not joking) 5,000 words long and a description of this male individual, with no questions directed at me. It looked like he copied and pasted it to everyone. Unable to restrain myself (I was paying after all), I wrote eight messages (short) to eight men in my favourites section. A week later seven had not even read them, let alone replied. I am now convinced they are fake profiles put up by the website itself to make it look like it has more members. The one reply I did get was from some man who said he would not correspond with me unless I revealed my picture to him. It’s going to be a long haul, I can see. I have entered a new arena of dating completely! Have any of you tried online dating and found it to work? Would love to know. Also, if anyone knows the rules of the online dating game, please do share them….I guess one thing is for certain, it looks like I’m gonna have to get my hair peroxided and get myself photographed in a silk dress by the pool asap.

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