I've been a little preoccupied in recent weeks (see #8 - a French romance...) but have finally gotten around to recounting yet more wisdom acquired via the medium of online dating. So far I have taken great lengths to select only the most amusing and hilarious stories for this blog, to ensure I gain a small but dedicated following and maintain my current 8 hits per day. However, these stories alone are not a true reflection of my overall experience of online dating, and in sharing these stores I am doing some people a great disservice. I refer of course to all the men I have been on dates with who, for whatever reason, did not make a good/terrible first impression (as both work well as a springboard for comedy blogging).
|My ideal man...|
*bugger the spark! see #3 - Buying my own drinks...
I am now approaching my 6 month online dating anniversary (we're very happy together, I'm so lucky I found the internet etc...) and thought it was about time I reflected on some of the men who, for want of a better (nicer) phrase, didn't make the cut. Because if I'm completely honest with myself, I could have been a bit friendlier to some of the guys who sent me messages, not to mention the men who took me out on nice first dates, only for me to forget to ever call them back. I make an effort from time to time to reply to people even if I have no interest in them romantically, especially if they have sent a particularly nice or thoughtful opening message. This is in theory a good thing, as it allows you to exchange pleasantries and form an idea of someones personality if their opening message though perfectly nice, didn't exactly ignite the lustbox.
Unfortunately, the practical implementation of courtesy messaging often falls flat on it's arse. One of the first messages I sent after joining OkCupid was to a man whose profile made me laugh out loud so much that I had to message him and tell him so. We exchanged messages for a few days before he suggested we meet, which I was happy to do, as he turned out to be every bit as witty, charming and nice as his profile suggested. I had looked through his picture album and knew that I wasn't particularly attracted to him, but was confident that his personality was sufficiently fantastic that once we met it wouldn't matter very much at all. Unfortunately our schedules clashed for a couple of weeks, and so we continued to exchange messages for nearly a month before finally settling on a date to meet up for the first time. In was very excited before the date - of all the men I had been on dates with up until that point he was by far the most interesting and fun person to message, and I hoped that when we met we would get on as well as we did in our messages.
As with the best laid plans, things did not run entirely to plan. We spent a very nice evening drinking and chatting in a pub whilst listening to live music, followed by a wander to my favourite ice cream shop for balsamic vinegar gelato, He made me laugh a lot, and he appeared to be having a very nice time with me. I had a very nice time with him, which was all the more difficult considering I knew the second I laid eyes on him that I was not remotely attracted to him, and would not be engaging in any romantic activity with him. Ever. I felt horrendous - was I really that shallow? I've been on dates before where I haven't been that enamoured with a person, either because of their appearance or their personality, but the added pressure of liking this man's messages so much before meeting made the night all the more difficult. I really wanted to fancy him. I even had a couple of drinks to calm my nerves a little (and look at him from a slightly less judgemental angle) but it simply wasn't to be. I could not find him attractive, an as a result could not consider another date with him.
The repercussions of this date were far reaching. Firstly I realised that I didn't know how to tell him I wasn't interested. I spent nearly two weeks replying to a couple of his messages before finally ignoring the last thing he said to me. He obviously took the hint, and was kind enough not to send me a shitty message, which I expected and thoroughly deserved. How dare I treat someone like that? It was downright rude (my Father would have been ashamed!) and I should not have gotten off so lightly.
How did I get off so lightly, I hear you ask? Because this is the nature of online dating. Five years ago I had a pay-as-you-go mobile phone with less that 30 contacts. I met people by belonging to clubs and societies at university (or by getting very drunk at a bar and waking up with a random phone number scrawled on my arm in eyeliner...). This was the beginning and end of my social networking, and I had to make an effort to stay in tough with my 30 (and some of them didn't like me very much) friends, in case they found someone more reliable, interesting or fun. Today I have two different facebook accounts, twitter, linkedin, a smartphone, various email accounts and a plethora of 'friends' across a plethora of different social mediums, all of which serve to make me feel like I am not alone. Because there is always someone available to chat, or 'like' my thoughts, or share my stories/pictures/blog (thanks guys), I have been lulled into thinking that I can ignore a person's message to me, because there are literally hundreds of other people out there to fall back on if they decided that my behaviour indicates that I am, to put it bluntly, an asshole.
Clearly something has gone wrong here. I would never ignore someone asking me a question to my face , so why on earth do I think it's acceptable to do so over the internet? I decided to put a stop to it right away. If someone thinks I'm worth sending a message to, then dash it all, I'm going to send one back. It's a question of good manners, after all...