Not a week goes by without some well intentioned person asking me if I have tried internet dating. As though it’s some crazy new phenomena, that maybe I hadn’t heard about… rather than something that has been around since the 90’s.
So, before I go any further – the answer is, yes. Yes, I have tried internet dating. And also, no, I will not be trying it again. Here’s why.
When I first dipped my toe into those waters, I did so authentically and with the belief that we were all out there looking for something real and lasting. In as much, I naively answered all the questions designed to narrow down my possible ‘matches’ honestly. I even uploaded photos of what I actually looked like… despite being advised against doing so by almost everyone I knew… because, apparently, as I would eventually come to understand, that’s not what internet dating is about… honesty.
In the virtual world where first impressions are based on a composition of compressed pixels, few, it would appear, want to deal in truth. Rather we are looking for cut-outs of the people we have seen in glossy magazines and on the big screen and seeking to match it up with our own ‘wish-list’ of the perfect man or woman. That usually doesn’t include an acerbic 5”3′ brunette with a tendency to stick her tongue out when she is concentrating or balancing… swipe left…
Regardless of breaking all the unwritten rules though, my honesty was met with more than a few ‘likes’ (maybe out of curiosity) and before long, I was caught up in the giddy world of virtual ‘kisses’ and ‘winks’… and first dates. A lot of first dates.
I was wildly excited to find myself so ‘popular’. How had I missed this amazing fishing hole, teaming with feisty salmon and succulent, fresh tuna, who were in an apparent frenzy over the burley I was tossing into the water?!? Ok, maybe this is taking the analogy too far, but just to get the point across… in the end I realised that the World Wide Waters were mostly just full of flathead. Which, for those of you who know nothing about fishing, is a delicious fish but one which plays around with the bait, lures you in little by little and then at the last moment, dances away to settle back on the bottom of some murky shelf it calls home. And if you do happen to catch it, watch out for the nasty (venomous) little spikes on the back of it’s head.
But there was this one fish… and it was chemistry at first bite. There were fun parks, candlelit dinners, sunny afternoon drinks, and on and on it went until I started to wonder if maybe there was value in internet dating after all. I was ready to pay homage to those amazing algorithms. Why had I not done this sooner?!? Who was I to have thought I could do this without technological assistance?!? Here was a hot, highly intelligent, smartly dressed, funny… boozer. And by boozer I mean drunk – 24/7…
I’m embarrassed to admit that it actually took me a full six months to work out that he was drunk, rather than happy to see me – every time we went on a date. Now if I wanted to be cynical I would suggest it was in fact the internet dating that had driven him to drinking in the first place… because I certainly felt inclined to reach for the bottle more than once when logging in to my account.
I didn’t throw myself back into online dating when it ended – which it was bound to once I knew the details he hadn’t included in his profile. I just didn’t have the heart for it. Internet dating seemed like just another forum to meet idiots, egotists and wankers, whom I was perfectly capable of meeting on my own at a bar. In hindsight I also realised that I had little recollection of most of the other first dates. Either because they were so incredibly non de-script that I quickly deleted them in favour of more worthwhile data, or so offensive I had blocked them out entirely.
But mostly, I had come to realise that all those shiny virtual promises, made up of gossamer and starlight, were just hiding somebody’s attempt to code (or perhaps decode) my love life. A somebody who didn’t even know me. But more importantly, who also didn’t have an algorithm for detecting bullshit.
So next time you ask me: “What’s cooking good looking?” When it comes to internet dating, expect the answer: “Fish. Flathead.”