Provocative opinions aired on the clothes line of life.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Online Dating: The seemingly good, the inherently bad and everything confusing in between

Game face

Over the last two years I've been a sporadic online dater and by sporadic, I mean I've taken it seriously when it has suited me and by suited me I mean when I've felt lonely.

There are only so many wistful quotations you can reblog on Tumblr before you decide that you're no longer being ironic and take romantic matters into your own fingertips. Loneliness is the key component to every dating site and worldwide there are over 20,000 to choose from - with 15 million of us single narcissists registered in the UK alone!

If social networking is our PR machine, online dating profiles are our company website. Virtual outlets where we eagerly curate wholesome representations of ourselves. Compartmentalising our tastes in art and literature, inserting witty captions to vanity shots and fabricating what we do in our spare time.

For me, free dating sites have become a natural transition from social networking and my experiences have afforded me wisdom and insight which could never be taught through institutionalised schooling. But I'm by no means an expert. I see online dating for what it is: fun and occasionally useful. I don't herald it as the definitive method to achieving a meaningful relationship. It is simply a method.

And through this method I've met and gone on dates with an array of men, some of whom were misogynists while others were quiet psychopaths. I've met men who were cheap, men who dress like my dad, men who dress like hipster 17 year olds, men who have made me listen to Alicia Keys while walking next to them and men with meaningful tattoos which they talked about at length. Yes it was cringe inducing, but I've also met men who are now good friends of mine and have introduced me to many other good friends. So if any of these men are reading (which I suspect that they might be), I'm not going to discuss you on my blog any further.

I am however going to discuss the profiles of incidental men I happen to come across, who are very noteworthy and sadly representational of the bulk of who you encounter. Whether it be because they've sent me a message or simply because of their own misfortune for appearing on my home page. And this isn't a gender thing; I'm quite sure if I was a man browsing women, that I'd have an equivalent story to tell about what happens when mundane meets mental. An understanding of how people choose to represent themselves via online dating profiles is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment. (Well, to me anyway!)

Village hypocrites 

Sometimes I like to think of my blog as the stocks and right now, it's brown lettuce time.

Everyone can be hypocritical on occasion, but the depths to which people are so incredibly hypocritical that you laugh out loud and actually point is never so glaring than when captured on a dating profile. These men are obviously not reading anything which they've written back to themselves. Proof reading for spelling and grammar errors is just not enough. The most ridiculous level of hypocrisy occurs when they demand a certain criteria from their ideal partner, which they're clearly not emulating themselves. We'll call them the village hypocrites.

He's looking for a lady who is selective, yet the green light stipulates that he replies to messages often. So by his own definition he too is a "village bike", yet he would reject a woman who is as accommodating with her correspondence as he is. He's also looking for a woman who is sane which would make him a fantasist, not to mention the fact that he is very obviously insane himself for not realising the stark hypocrisy of his statements.

The darker side to a man like this is the fact that he considers a woman who has had a lot of online conversations with different men to be tainted and damaged goods so to speak. The quiet psychopaths are always the most ominous and judging by what he considers to be slutty behaviour when it comes to other men, this simple statement has shone a light on what appears to be a sinister jealousy streak.

Women: Don't write this man a message. Even if you do reply selectively and feel smug about it.
Men: Don't copy this tactic because I've just instructed women everywhere to ignore it.

Besides everyone knows if you're looking for the village bicycle you're not likely to be on OkCupid where the village hypocrite resides. No, if you're looking to arrange a date quickly and easily you head over to POF (Plenty of Fish or plenty of people who prompt you to quit dating and resign yourself to actually fishing for the rest of your life). Which is where I encountered this confused man-child:

Apart from the fact that he's made a Star Wars reference to avoid admitting he still lives with his mother, he's also unwittingly incorporated one of his pet hates into his own profile. I wouldn't be so aggrieved that the profession he'd chosen for himself was an evil genius if that level of intellect was present in his ability to write.  Which predictably it isn't. While I can empathise with his first point (I also require someone who is able to write a sentence in its entirety), I'm incredulous as to how he's gone through life this far mistaking commas for full stops when numbering bullet points.

The darker side to a man-child such as this is that he's very clear and detailed about what he doesn't want, but is vague and uninspired about what he enjoys. From his short sentence about himself all I've gathered is that he occasionally leaves his mothers house to get drunk, having spent the day watching slasher films and operates vehicles at random presumably while still drunk. Next.

Women: No instruction needed here, this type of profile is text book avoidance.
Men: List characteristics you find desirable in a potential partner, not the opposite.


The trouble with misanthropy is that while it can be very amusing to read in other areas of literature, it's just not an attractive quality in an online dating profile. Take it from a seasoned misanthropist who rants about her dislike of everything all of the time.  As a result I've been defined by what I don't like as opposed to what I do like. In fact, people who know me are still skeptical as to whether I take pleasure from anything at all.

This is not the first impression you want to make in a dating profile, it's the kind of impression which makes someone roll their eyes and click next. Online dating is kind of like what voting is for everyone else, you just pick the person you dislike the least. So, as with politicians, online daters need to eliminate the obvious traits which pose a threat to the results of their opinion polls. When laying out what you expect from a potential partner, it's one rule for everyone. Not just yourself.