no nonsense Aidan
On-line dating: my honest lookThose who read my column with any regularity will know there is considerable absence of references to my personal life. I am, for the most part, keen to concentrate on advising because, good advice is good no matter from whence it came. The same is true for bad advice, incidentally. However, this last few months have seen me venturing in to the world of on-line dating, and here I present my reflections. So, a good or a bad thing? I used a widely known web site, with a decent range of free features, to undertake this learning experience and try to answer this question.Well, if the ultimate goal is to meet a special some-one, so far it hasn’t delivered. I haven’t even had a date. But isn’t it as much about getting exposure to a wider group of people than you ordinarily would? I think so. I’m always telling people it’s a stroke of good luck if you meet your special some-one early in life, so I should not let my perceptions be affected by the same assumptions I spend my Dear Cupid writing time telling other people not to be trapped by. So I’m first confronted by a baffling range of questions. O my goodness, Once I’ve uploaded pictures and written a distinctly average headline and filled out details of my appearance (I’m sure I underplayed my weight a bit), I’ve then got to write a description. What do I say? Write a big piece about my life? They mightn’t read it. Erm-o dear this is awkward-something short? But I’ve got a lot I want to say. How will I stand out if, like everyone else, I say I’m fun-loving and adventurous, love trying new things and other vague all-encompassing statements? No, I’ve got to sell myself.What things will put them off? Should I mention my religious beliefs? Maybe. Or my unusual musical taste? My hobbies? How do I, like most people, make the fact that 5 of 7 days I work and crash out in the evenings, sound fascinating? O, and it asked me for my longest relationship-better confirm that under 1 year is my answer because I’ve not met anyone, not because I’m a player.What about the disability? Well, probably should be upfront but mention it at the end or in the middle otherwise they may read no further. So I stick it in the middle and make a joke about it, great-job done.Well anyway after all this soul-searching, the profile is complete. I’m tired from all that thinking, I make a cup of tea.Not expecting much I do not experience any ego shattering when I discover that a flurry of messages is most certainly not in my inbox. I’m only trying this, so I send a few messages. Some don’t reply, but others have an interesting conversation with me. Nice.The other main activity is browsing through profiles, apparently you look and decide if it’s a hit or a miss. I can compare the market for all kinds of things: insurance policies, holidays, restaurants, and now, it seems, for suitors too. The only upside of being blind is that I at least have to click to read their descriptions as I can’t chuck them out based on the picture. It’s hardly surprising then that this all seems incredibly shallow, and becomes as unappealing as going on “the pull” in a bar-being a gentleman I’ve never been “on the pull” anywhere. I’d prefer to talk of courting rather than dating.So what’s my conclusion?I’m sticking to it, I’ve had some lovely conversations. Having a nice chat with some-one in times you would otherwise spend on your own as you work late, write a research proposal, or do whatever you do, is nice. The web site’s only as good as the people on it so there’s every chance I may meet one of these people. I think I will find some-one I’d like to meet sooner or later, even if as a friend.It doesn’t compromise my family life, or reduce the time and effort I devote to my friendships in the real world, which are a true blessing in my life. Ultimately it’s harmless enough. Saying a quick hi may lead to a conversation which may end when you log off, but so what? I’m not planning our wedding and kids with the first hello.What going on-line to look for love has not done, however, is make me feel any better or worse about my chances of meeting some-one. I don’t think it’s going to happen any quicker because you can read a few cobbled together lines about me on a web site. I can see the danger of becoming dependent on it, it’s so anonymous that people don’t think anything of just not replying to you, or viewing you but not making any initial contact. That’s not the same as a rejection, and if people start to think it is, it can open you up to becoming incredibly vulnerable. Those lacking in self-confidence may find its superficiality a further kicker. I’ve always approached it with healthy scepticism and caution, so this hasn’t been a problem for me. I have never expected it to be a cure for the one per cent of the time when, despite feeling truly blessed for having wonderful family and friends, I feel a pang of loneliness, sadness and unworthiness. I still get by because those pangs go very quickly and shouldn’t be indulged. I treasure the real relationships I have with my loved ones, so on-line dating is just a new extra part of a social life for me. I’ve basically found it a good addition to my life because, in being open-minded to its shortcomings, I’ve prepared myself not to be disappointed by it whilst enjoying the benefits.So has my advice changed? The answer is no. I always encouraged people to try it, it’s a good opportunity to meet new people especially if you are shy. Being able to find out about each other first means you can find people with whom there is common ground before you meet, or even say hi. I’ve also never been convinced that traditional meeting places such as clubs and bars are that great. Thinking of on-line dating? Go for it! But make sure you always reflect on its role in your life. Make sure you’re not taking each failure to express interest in you as a rejection. Make sure you’re not using it for a self-esteem boost, hoping you’ll meet some-one quicker, or suddenly feel better about yourself. It is not a cure for confidence issues, it solves nothing in that regard. It’s a good place to start once you’ve worked on them though, and are ready to see who’s out there. Make sure you aren’t constructing a virtual social life to the exclusion of others in the real world. Don’t use it as a crutch in those moments of emotional vulnerability that us long-term singletons are familiar with. Don’t see it as a solution, see it as a good, perhaps better, meeting place. I’ve shown through my experience the pros and cons, be informed, have a healthy attitude, and enjoy the learning experience.
View related questions:
confidence, my ex, player, shy, trapped, wedding
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reader, WiseOwlE + ♥, writes (12 January 2014):Hello, Aiden!
Interesting and delightful piece.
I've never ventured beyond chatting online. I've never taken it to dating. It was funny how upset people got if you didn't respond quickly, and would actually ask if I was angry? We've never met, and I didn't check my mailbox. That's all!
It got crammed with lonely females; and weird gay men who read the profile to include I did have a long-term relationship spanning 28 years. I decided to add my profile pic.
That's like adding cheese to a mousetrap. I'm old-fashioned and prefer meeting face to face. I've learned to handle rejection, or a perplexed scowl with grace. I've overcome shyness to avoid using my devices to meet people. I prefer to use them to read, web surf, or communicate only.
I think you can always have fun with a strangers you find attractive; when you catching them staring. Can't do that online.
I use my facial expression to reflect theirs, and smile. They usually smile back, or look extremely awkward. I don't want to loose my natural charm, or my confidence. I'll chat or write to advise. I love interacting with people too much. I guess my profile pic got me quite a few responses back in 2010. It got boring shortly thereafter.
I started dating, and forgot I subscribed.
I didn't get to respond to a lot of hits. Some I did and got: "whassup?" "How big is it?" "I'm gay-curious!"
and "like ta metcha!" just didn't butter my toast.
Killed the profile, pulled down the pic. Now I just help those who seek advice. That's my calling.
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