Ah, the grace and ease with which people fall into new relationships with normal, non-pathological people... But alas, not for me that serendipitous series of events when the vet/dentist/butcher turns out to be attractive, single and interested in going on a date. That would be far too easy. And in any case, I’d probably scare him by not giggling coquettishly or glancing coyly at him from under my fringe. I don’t have a fringe for a start.
I remember having an absolutely hilarious conversation with a friend about how he might meet people romantically without using apps, which resulted in us concluding that he should join a sailing club. The fact that we live in landlocked West Yorkshire shows how desperate we were.
Yep, it’s definitely difficult to meet potential suitors ‘the old fashioned way’. This is a little unfortunate, as I’ve discovered through gritty experience that online dating is unequivocally not my cup of tea. Having had several depressing deep dives into its soul destroying depths, I can tell you that the clichés are real. Think hours of inane chat, answering and asking the same questions, scrolling through endless pictures of men holding huge fish, stroking drugged tigers, or worse, looking menacingly into the camera as they lift weights. Then there’s the proliferation of serial lurkers who see this carousel of misery as something to enjoy rather than endure (unfortunately, you only discover these with time).
Most anxiety-inducing of all is the mortification of being seen with an absolute minger by someone you know.
For me, nothing compares to the misery of the first date. The realisation on meeting that the profile photos were taken a decade and three stone ago (and that’s just mine), the painfully apparent lack of chemistry within five seconds but the obligation to sit there for an hour anyway, and the depressingly inevitable absence of reciprocity regardless of who likes who. Most anxiety-inducing of all is the mortification of being seen with an absolute minger by someone you know, but don’t know well enough to explain the situation to. So Janet from work is left thinking that the man with the excrutiatingly loud voice wearing jeans with pockets all the way down the legs is your new boyfriend.
There will be few app users without a list of horror stories. These are an endless source of fascination to those in long-term relationships, who will often ask you to regale them with such anecdotes at dinner parties. We might not be at a dinner party (ahem, lockdown), but my highlights are:
- The guy who said he was “at least six foot” who I met for a walk and immediately regretted not bringing the reins I’d used for shopping centre visits when my son was two
- The guy I talked to ‘offline’ who promptly WhatsApped me a photo of him wearing nothing below the waist, something I didn’t realise until 10pm that night having viewed the photo in preview mode and conducted normal, light conversation with him for most of that day
- The guy who I texted to say I didn’t fancy him at all mid-date, thinking I’d sent the text to my sister (I still die inside when I think about that)
- The guy who clearly invested more in teeth whitening than I did in my house and spent the whole date talking about his hugely profitable IT consultancy/plans to buy a brand new Audi, but said “how do you want to do this?” when the bill arrived. It was for £23
- The guy who told me on date one that he still had sex with his ex-wife every Sunday afternoon (and smelt of stale washing, which was less concerning but still a dealbreaker)
- The guy who stood me up on my second ever date after I’d gone to great inconvenience to travel to meet him, leaving me shell shocked and tearful (how naïve I was back then…)
I’ve also met some really lovely men. Ones who were kind and respectful and would have made ‘perfectly good’ partners. But cruelly, there was no laughter, and no spark. In spite of that, and although the prospect of a second and third date made me crave my sofa and a good boxset rather than light up in nervous excitement, I’d drag myself along anyway in case I suddenly discovered I was being ‘too fussy’. And that’s not fair on anyone.
I know that online dating can probably work. After all, everything is a numbers game isn’t it. But for me, it’s also a soul destroying, anxiety filled ‘leave your pride at the door’ game. I truly admire my friends who stuck with it and now have lovely partners for their trouble, but no matter how much I like the idea of meeting my forever person, I know I can’t go through it again.
Anyone know of any sailing clubs?
Please, make me feel better, and share your dating horror stories in comments.