Casting the net: Online dating 101
- Here’s another article from one of our new writers, Tole. Enjoy!
As a young gay (and by young, I mean, fresh off the train, wearing short pants, clutching my suitcase with a wide eyed stare as I entered an unknown village), I had great expectations that I would soon be charming women every night of the week and giving off the impression that I was some type of modern day Casanova.
So when this did not come to fruition, I was greatly surprised. It took me a while to figure out the root of my failings, but when I did, it came down to a number of crucial things:
- It appeared I had an inability to converse with people, something I had hitherto excelled at.
- When I did speak, it was often nonsensical and delivered at a very high pitch so that it seemed I was interested only in communicating with seagulls.
- Anybody I did manage to talk to with any motive of intent, was already coupled up or proved stranger and more high pitched than I was. And I couldn’t be dealing with that sort of competition.
So a chance purchase of an L Word box set (which I figured would surely teach me everything I needed to know) also happened to contain three months free membership for an online dating site. This little card gave me some hope that I could navigate the world a bit better from the comfort of my home, where I had control over my actions, free of occasional squawking noises and the like.
So, I now had the opportunity to be an ever dashing charmer with an unlimited amount of messages to woo these potential suitors with. No “soz babes I’m outta messages, if you fancy a chat add me on msn-smiley face, lol” woes for me.
However, the stress of it all proved too much after a while. The excellent banter back and forth only for it stop abruptly, the occasional drink with somebody who turned out to be incredibly boring, or bumping into that hot girl you took seven hours composing a two line message to, only to never hear anything back. My nerves quite simply weren’t able for it. And so I hung up my online lady killer boots which to my shame, never managed to get all that dirty for a finish.
Having upped my social skills a tad since then (I don’t come off as wanting to live my life on a beach anymore), I recently found myself back online. It may have been exam time. It may also have been the month I discovered a love for the unnecessary filing of all my photos in order of the number of people present in them. But if I was to be at my computer ‘revising’, I thought somebody should at least be entertaining me while I did so.
And it certainly was entertaining for a while, as I discovered that many of the same lovely faces were still online. Yet like a solid old man’s pub, they had refused to move with the times. Many of them were still “just out of a relationship, only looking for fun” (which to be fair, is always a bit of a winning statement), “still really new to this, not sure what to say” (really? But it’s three years later), while the amount of people (“new age kids” I like to call them) who spell their names with both letters and numbers was astonishing.
Of course, there were also a few gems of people in there, fun and witty. However, for the most part, it would seem that we all sat around logged in, yet not saying much. I mean, I can’t prove this for definite, just that the masses didn’t seem to be messaging me, which I found strange, given that I had personally awarded myself 4/5 stars for my new profile.
Whatever about communicating with people in real life, I’ve always found that online, you have time to think, to open and reply to a message with a great answer, and if not great, at the least, relatively engaging.
Some of the profiles provide great material to start a conversation, plenty of interests and quirks that can arm you with something slightly original to say. But yet, a lot of people continue to open with ‘Hi, how are you?’. Given that we live in Ireland, surely it’s only natural that a response to this would also include a comment on the weather, followed by an inquiry into the health of the person’s ailing grandmother and before you know it, everybody has lost interest.
I gradually became more annoyed by these messages. I just couldn’t bring myself to reply to them. And so, I asked that, if people were feeling charitable enough to message me, then dear Jesus, make it worthwhile and something that I might actually respond to.
It has kind of worked, I think. Or else I just come across as so demanding that the ‘hi how are you lol’ people, a wily bunch, know I’m probably not worth the effort. But I’ve had some good banter with a few people and have progressed towards ‘friendly acquaintance’ stage.
And just so you know, things online move like this these days:
- As usual you chat, and this can range from a few hours, days or weeks.
- You then become friends on Facebook to prove that neither of you is insane/a murdering kidnapper.
- You may find out that you have a few friends in common, but that you are not in fact related. Good to go.
- You maybe meet for a drink and get on well. Excellent.
This is surely the holy grail of online dating. You arrange to actually meet the person. Anything that happens after that is either terrifying or pleasant (it can always go either way to be honest).
The important thing is, that if you plan to while away a number of hours online, then make yourself interesting (although don’t lie about it. If you’re boring, then that’s just how it is), be engaging and if you are really so concerned about the person’s health, or how their weekend went, think how overly concerned you’ll be about them if you actually end up meeting and liking them. Better to open about their penchant for Anne Doyle and the vigil they now they keep for her by their bedside.
Sounds like a winner to me.