Due to my work as an actress and writer, I am constantly attending events. During my many recent sessions of champagne-swilling, my conversation with fellow party-goers has been turning to their sign-ups on internet dating sites. I hope my stories didn't put them off.
I was late in developing in terms of wanting a boyfriend. I was very career focussed and it just wasn't something that interested me until I was well into my twenties. When, however, my brain switched gears and I became...how should I put it...man mad, I went off the rails a bit. I was single so I didn't see the harm. However, when you try to cram what should have been a decade of dating since high school into six months like I did, you go through a lot of heartbreak and meet a lot of weirdos.
After having a dalliance with a married man, having unprofessional relations with colleagues and exhausting my own social circle for potential suitors, I turned to the internet in the attempt to find that life-long partner. I was naive and inexperienced and I dived head-first into meeting almost every loser that contacted me.
I got a lot of compliments online, and also a lot of nasty messages- including one man who said that when he "started dating me he would need to get me slimmed down". He was told where to go, obviously. The first man I met up with, I went on about three dates with over two weeks. I ended things with him as he just wouldn't meet up with me again; but wanted to still play text flirts. Then there was the man who on our first date asked me to rate my favourite supermarkets in order of preference. It was Waitrose that took the number one spot, obviously. Then there was the one who, when finding out I was an actress, nearly jumped out of his seat with the excitement at the small chance that I may say "Yes, I have met Timmy Mallet". He was closely followed by the one who was dying- yes that's right- he dated me seriously for several weeks and then announced he was dying so couldn't go out with me anymore. Skip another few misfits (including the one whose fiancée called me to tell me he was meant to be getting married in three days time), before I found my husband.
He was genuine and different from all the others. Internet dating had finally worked its magic. We didn't exactly take things slowly, by getting engaged several weeks later; but we both knew we had found what we were looking for. Four years later we are still happily married. I am thankful every day for the website I found him on- Gumtree as it happens. So, if you persevere and work your way through all the trash, you can find your soul mate just like I did (whilst climbing up a gumtree).
Here are my tips for internet dating...
1) Be honest in your profile. If you want to meet that special someone you will actually have to meet them, so any lies you tell will be exposed pretty quickly. Especially if you claim to be 26 but you are actually 44.
2) Do not arrange to meet anyone until you have spoken to them extensively and have a good idea of the type of person they are.
3) Do not start a relationship with someone you know isn't suitable for you just because there isn't anyone else.
4) Do not go back to anyone's house after a first date if you are under the influence of alcohol or have any doubts about them. I can't say don't do it at all, as I did it with my husband and we had a lovely time watching the television. If you suspect, however, that they are not to be trusted don't go, as you could end up doing something you regret; like I did many a time previously!
5) Do not be scared or embarrassed about internet dating. Just always be on your guard and trust your intuition. If you keep looking for the right person, you will find them eventually. The internet is not all full of undesirables- a lot of the people on dating sites are just simply too busy with work to go out and socialise and meet people the 'normal' way.
Good luck, and I've got my hat ready for any weddings!
Follow Laura Pearson-Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LPearsonSmith