Ah, the world of internet dating.
Every so often I begin to think it’s a really good idea, that I can get to know people, communicate with them and see where things go from there. These are normally times when I get a general feeling that I could really do with a boyfriend, as I find myself eating a large amount of toast and watching Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning again.
Speaking of Grey’s Anatomy, I’ve been re-watching a fair bit (as I am prone to) and this little quote from new doctor, Maggie Pearce, jumped out at me:
Maggie: There’s a gap. Between me and most people. There’s just always has been. I used to think I was younger in school but even after school. The gap, it just got bigger. And more impossible. I wasn’t too young, I was just too different. So I know what it looks like when I say yes to Ethan. It’s fun and we’re happy for a while until it’s not. Things always get awkward and weird so I over correct and he misinterprets and then we’re not on the same page anymore cause we were always miles and miles apart with this gap between us, pretending it wasn’t there. I don’t wanna pretend. I came here to work and just stay focused on that, and I’m fine on my side of the gap. I’m a little lonely but fine. There’s just no point to me saying yes.
Now this is not entirely me, but there are some aspects that made me just think ‘Yep! That’s it!’, specifically thinking there’s a gap and me over stressing an interest in something the other person likes that I’m not so bothered about. For example, a couple of months ago I meet a man who was stupidly beautiful and as I got chatting to him I found he was into comics. I like comics, I’ve seen a fair few film adaptations but I’m by no means an expert, but I could get away with a shallow level discussion about them. But why would that be a good idea? Feigning an interest in something to get someone to like me? That’s not a good way to go ahead. I’ve done that lots with men and perhaps that’s why I’m still single. Because I wasn’t being me.
But, every so often I think ‘Come on, you’re a grown up, it shouldn’t be this hard.’
So I sign up to a site. I start off quite eager, sending off messages to people I think I’d get on with and getting excited when I get the email through saying I’ve got a new message or something. Then my enthusiasm sags as they admit to enjoying hunting with dogs or that their mum is their best friend and they do really enjoy going on holiday with her twice a year or that their favourite band is U2.
I get a patronising message from the site if I contact someone ‘Nicely done! Now just wait for their response!’. Yes I know how this works, thanks. I know it’s meant to be encouraging, but I just find it irritating.
I also found it quite hard initially to not respond to people I’m not that interested in because I thought I was being mean, but I’ve got past that. What I didn’t realise before joining this particular site was the sheer numbers of people you can sometimes be matched with. I get little pinging emails going ‘Congratulations, you’ve got 37 new matches!’ and that’s when my heart sinks. But I’ve now developed a check list:
1) Have they answered questions reasonably fully? If they’ve just put a full stop or answered three basic questions and nothing else then I’m passing them by and moving on to the next one. I don’t feel this is overly harsh – I put effort into trying to honestly answer my questions for my profile and it didn’t take me more than about an hour in total. If they aren’t willing to put that basic level of effort in then what would they be like in real life?
2) a) Has he put any pictures up? If so, has he managed 3 or more?
b) Has he put the same picture up 6 times?
c) Do all of their pictures feature the same two friends so that you don’t know which he is?
d) Of the pictures, how many, if any, are taken in a bathroom/toilet with the phone in the picture?
e) How many of his pictures are of him doing physically active things, eg marathons, triathalons, playing every sport… OR do the pictures show him dressed in a costume doing some sort of live role play stuff?
f) Is every picture taken on their webcam/have most of their face cut off?
Now you may think I’m being excessively picky on this section involving someone’s image, yes, there are 6 subsections listed for this bit, but let’s put it all straight out on the line here – we now live in an age that is flooded with digital images. It shouldn’t be hard to find at least 3 pictures of yourself where you do not look horrendous. If you have a least one friend you should be able to find someone to take a picture of you. If you are looking for a partner on a dating website it is good to show yourself with other people, but if I have no idea which one you are, then I might assume you are your considerably more attractive friend and be a little let down if we met and you turned out not to be.
I don’t think I’m being unfair here, I know what I look like, on my profile I have, of course, put the most flattering pictures of myself that I can, but I think they are fairly representative of what I actually look like and the sorts of things I like doing.
I don’t like running marathons, road cycling, hiking to the top of every hill and mountain across the country, so if someone is advertising themselves as enjoying that, good for them, but we’re not going to be together for 60 years.
3) Under ‘last book read’, has he put something like Bear Grylls or Gary Lineker’s autobiography, anything by Katie Price or Jeffrey Archer, or ‘I don’t read much’? If so, move on to the next match.
4) List 5 things you can’t live without. You are not for me if your top priority is ‘my phone, lol’. I know I am in the minority here, but I don’t have a smart phone anymore and it has revolutionised my life. I love not being online or connected to everything all of the time. I only use my computer for the internet. If I’m going somewhere then I look at a map or ask a human when I get there. My emails can wait. I spend enough time on facebook without having it in my pocket all the time.
5) Has he used correct punctuation, use of ‘their’, ‘there’, ‘they’re’, ‘should have’, are all ‘I’s using capital letters, can he use the humble apostrophe, etc.? Yes, I’m aware that I’m being picky again and I’m sure you’ve found many typos in my work and I’d be grateful if you would point them out to me. But this is an important one for me. It fits alongside the general idea of taking care and time over their profile. And this is something that would really annoy me in real life, so I really feel I should pick someone to communicate with who can get this right. I’m not asking for a PhD or anything, but a basic care over everyday language makes me happy.
6) What is listed under the wants kids section? I’ve set my match age parameters to something like 26 – 39, I think. I’m now 31 with a mental age of about 70, so perhaps 26 is too young for me , but I’m trying to open myself to opportunities, despite the impression this checklist may be giving. I can understand a 26 year old putting ‘might want kids’ because I didn’t know at 26. I get someone who already has one or more children within this age range putting ‘may want kids’. They’ve already got some, they may want more with the right person, they may just be happy as they are, that’s fine. What I don’t get is the men who are 36 and over who don’t already have kids who put down maybe, because I think by that age, you pretty much know. I could be wrong, but I know many a female friend who has had an older partner who initially said maybe, only to go, no never want kids thanks, I just said that because I thought you’d not go out with me if I said I didn’t. I don’t think that’s fair. So I’m wary of anyone 5 years or more older than me who says maybe. I would like kids if I can have them, so no point messing about with someone who really doesn’t.
7) (My personal favourite) Has he put a picture of himself with his wife from their wedding day up?? I’ve really come across this about 12 times.
8) Under job, has he listed something like ‘philosophical guerilla’, ‘Jeremy Kyle show auditionee’ or ‘Accountant’? I have seen all of these listed.
So this is how I narrow down the choices to people I feel I can have a chat with and perhaps get to know some more. That is assuming that I pass their particular check list.
What things do you look for in a potential date? How do you narrow the field a little? Am I being overly picky? Leave your thoughts below.