Date Me, I’m Desperate: The Perils of Online Dating
The confessions of an online dating experience.
For someone who notoriously dislikes dating, I feel I’ve been uncharacteristically courageous in braving the waters of online dating in order to find true love, in the name of research, ultimately to provide you with entertainment at my expense.
Working hard to combat an uneasy suspicion that these websites were only home to social retards, avid masturbators and others with extreme sexual fetishes, I was first faced with the daunting challenge of selecting a site. Potential online datees, I’m warning you, there are a lot out there! Your options are largely made redundant, however, when attempting to find decent websites that are also free (or so you think). I can’t help but feel that the combination of payment and dating suggests an element of prostitution, no?
Finally I opted for Uniform Dating, for who doesn’t love a man in uniform, as well as Date at Uni which believe it or not, is an entire dating website created for university students such as you and I. Perhaps, these people have not heard of a Wednesday night Timepiece although incidentally in my web travels, I have not come across any specifically Exeter students. Or perhaps tactically most users keep their exact university location well hidden…
Both sites offer a limited form of membership for free. On Date at Uni for example, whilst I can create my own profile, check out those of others’, send winks and add profiles I like the look of to my favourites, I am unable to contact any of these so-called favourites, receive their messages or use the full search facilities unless I pay £19.95 for a month’s membership which is gradually reduced to £5 a month if I join for a year.To be honest, even a month’s membership feels like too great a step for me. As a friend said, paying £20 is ‘relatively expensive for being desperate’ and I just could be signing my life away so I declined and stuck with a basic account.
My next step was to create a profile which is easier said than done. The greatest concern of course is what photo/s to use. One from SSB looking fairly undressed? No, obviously people outside Exeter would assume that I am a prostitute. Should I cater for the tastes of Uniform Dating and take photos of myself in some sort of costume? No, read above – the same applies. Should I Photoshop my picture? Can I get away with using the photo of a glamour model rather than my own? For someone, who isn’t taking this that seriously, that’s a lot of questions, right?
What’s more when it comes to talking about myself how truthful should I be? If I give an honest account of my likes and dislikes and get zero response, will I be found crying into my pillow alone at night and left on the shelf at 20 for all of eternity? What am I even looking to get out of this experience?
Select from: friendship, casual, romance, true love, marriage. It’s a tricky one. Frankly, there wasn’t an option for: to laugh at creepy perverts.
Whilst proving an excellent way to procrastinate (days spent in the library looking at my top admirers as well as who has sent me virtual flowers or dare I say, a kiss rather than writing my essay), I did find certain elements of my investigations alarming, amusing and reassuring. For example, on both websites, it is apparently necessary to tell users how far away they are from one another in miles. So when I am sent an email telling me that I have been made the favourite of one young man, who has already checked out my profile 3 times (mildly disturbing), I am also told that we only live a mile apart. Well, apart from being far too close for comfort, is this even safe?
Incidentally, talking of safe, I was recently sent an email from Date at Uni on how to ‘be safe’. Strictly, on the internet that is. Discussing the importance of passwords, avoiding scammers and not giving out personal information, it may seem like simple advice, but it’s worth remembering so that I don’t return from a night out to find a particular enthusiastic user is sitting on my doorstep.
While superficially my online dating experience has left me highly optimistic with regular emails telling me that I’ve been a ‘big hit’ today and with 22 admirers on Uniform Dating which can only be a confidence booster, the truth is a little less exciting.
In checking out those who have shown an interest, I learn that one gentleman is a 46 year old with two children, one is a self-employed chicken farmer and that another proclaims himself to be ‘the model for Shrek’. I’m sure they could all be very nice men, but they’re just not my cup of tea. So not only am I inundated with junk mail, but I am also highly disappointed. You may call me picky, I call it practical.
Ultimately, therefore, while I did enjoy being able to hide behind my computer screen, a great avoidance technique that just isn’t as effective in the flesh, I’m just not sure online dating is for me. I’m left wondering why these people seem to think that persistently sending winks is any more acceptable than poking on Facebook. Perhaps, the stigma attached to online dating was always going to prevent me from finding ‘the one’ on a website. Perhaps, my lazy and bemused attitude to the whole experience held me back. Either way, with what seems to be relatively slim pickings in the aisle, I think I’d rather remain on the shelf.