"What ever happened to being fingered round the back of the cinema?"
That was the hilarious but very blunt reply from my friend's 65 year old mother when he was talking to her about his trouble with meeting women on dating websites, and their expectations of a first date.
I think it's quite a good observation about modern dating. Eventing has to be so perfect and the pressure to impress is immense.
My friend Luke is kind, considerate, funny and can drink more guinness in one evening than I thought humanly possible. He's got an amazing, soft Dublin accent which makes women swoon and he's not in bad nick for a thirty-five year old. He has been on ten first dates so far this year and actually got to date three with a woman, before she dumped him by text for 'not trying hard enough' on their third date. The date where he should have taken her to the cinema and fingered her after, according to his (slightly drunk) mother.
Instead he took her to our (very nice) local pub and suggested they get something to eat there - a plan which sounded perfectly fine to me and the rest of his friends.
It wasn't good enough in her opinion as he hadn't put enough thought into it. She said didn't want to see him again, despite him being one of the kindest, gentlest men she will probably ever meet. All because the poor bloke suggested pie and mash and a pint for a third date.
And that is why Luke usually never gets past a first date: He likes to keep things simple and so many women expect more from a first internet date and tend to go for men who want to do flashier things than just have a quiet drink.
I have never used internet dating myself, as there was no such thing before I married for the first time at age 22. I did the old tried and tested, 'meet someone in a pub through friends' thing that everyone did back then. Before internet dating and Tinder, you met people through friends, on nights out or at work.
These days, finding a partner is a horrifying conveyer belt of disappointment and self loathing.
I have lost count of the friends who I have sat with - male and female - while they are trying to chat to people via dating site messages. Most of them have found it tedious. The men have found that women tell them to fuck off for the slightest fault - My friend Simon said to a woman he was chatting to that if they went to dinner he knew a great restaurant they could go to; the woman said that was a red flag and he seemed controlling and promptly blocked him.
My female friends are usually inundated with messages asking how big their breasts are and the occasional photo of erect genitalia.
When they actually meet up for a date, more often than not, it doesn't go well.
Most of these internet dates seem like hell to me, mainly consisting of a quick first meet up to see if you are 'compatible', i.e. would you fuck each other.
Dress it up how you want, but dating comes down to attraction, and when you meet someone online, no matter how much you like them as a person, you really can't tell if you will be attracted to them until you see them in the flesh.
They might smell of B.O, have an annoying physical habit that you can't get past, or they may just not look as good in real life as they do in their photos. That's the thing with relationships - if you don't want to jump their bones when you meet them, then there is not much point in continuing, no matter how much of a wonderful person they are. You may have met a really good friend, but if you aren't immediately physically attracted to them, it doesn't bode well for a relationship.
The dates themselves are sometimes awkward. So many people seem to favour the 'lunchtime coffee and a walk date'. Now, if I was dating and a man suggested that to me, I would laugh. I think the acid test to see if we were mentally compatible would be how he responded to me saying: "Nah, that's crap. Lets go to the pub tonight and see how many pints we can drink before we fall over. Or if it has to be lunchtime, lets skip the coffee and the walk and go and stuff our faces with Big Macs and chocolate shakes instead". If you can't say what you really think to someone when you first meet them, then what is the point of continuing if you are pretending to be someone you aren't?
And what if you meet up and you don't feel any physical attraction? The best bet for both sexes is just be honest, especially if you get on personality wise. No one likes the sort of person who will take you out, spend the evening with you and then just ghost you afterwards, dropping off the face of the earth.
Life is far too short to treat people with no dignity, so if the spark isn't there, just be honest and either have a great night out as potential friends or cut the evening short and go home and watch the Walking Dead in your pants.
Ghosting is a real problem with Internet dating. With everything arranged by text or private messenger services, it's really easy (if you are rude) to ignore people and pretend they never existed. This can be massively upsetting to be on the receiving end of. I have been through this with a lot of my friends. They have a couple of dates, think all is fine and then one day, they other person stops responding and never contacts them again. Why not just be honest and say it wasn't what you wanted rather than ghosting and being a wanker about it? It really doesn't take long to call someone and say "I thought you were a really lovely person, but I can't see us being together. Good luck".
I am helping a single friend write a bio for a dating site this afternoon, the poor woman has asked for my help as she has been getting nowhere and wanted to write something that was a bit more honest.
Is "whatever happened to getting fingered round the back of the cinema?" too much of an honest tagline for a dating profile? I know it would make me laugh if I read it.