The world of online dating is a strange, weird void between what reality is and what people want to make of themselves. In theory, Tinder, Plenty of Fish and other dating platforms are incredible - you can try and find the woman or man of your dreams without really leaving the comfort of the single-life based castle you've forged yourself over months, or years, of hard work and hangovers.
Swiping right, or shunning left on the picture of someone's face did initially go against everything I've really ever believed to be right and proper. How can the world be so judgemental, how could I ever be so judgemental?
Well I was and I have been, and I'll tell you what - it was crap.
To get this straight, I do think that if we're willing to make a great, big, proper effort at online dating (I'm talking about real online dating, not hook-ups) and you don't have my crippling self-doubt issues, then the place to do it is online. The fact that you're swiping a certain way to judge whether you like a person isn't actually as morally bogus as I once thought. Anyone, who has ever met someone, anywhere, has used their eyes to judge whether they want to talk to said person. In a bar, a club, a library or at work, you use the way a person looks to make the first decision about how to, and whether to approach the human that has caught your eye. I've never walked into a bar and had various women approach me with a brief description of their life and interests and a short and unfunny tagline trying to sum up their outlook on life. You just look at them and have a think about whether it's worth your time of day. The fact that I've never had a woman approach me in a bar full stop is beside the point. The bio thing doesn't happen in real life. You're just swiping across your phone in real life.
I think now is probably the perfect time to disclose that as a matter of fact, I've never approached anyone in a bar, and I doubt I ever will. There was this one time that a friend of mine told girl I was an Olympic rower and that she should come and talk to me. When she did, and explained that she had been told this, I politely and rather quickly told her that I wasn't a rower, but in fact worked in an office. I think it was around 10 minutes before she stopped talking to be and left the bar. Next time, I think I'll just 'be an Olympic rower' for a week or two. But until then, you can take it from me, that online dating seemed like the perfect answer to the hardest of questions.
Successful in love or not, online dating can be great. If you can do it.
When I initially set myself (by myself, I mean my friend Claudia, who has since found love on Plenty of Fish and literally moved in with the man of her dreams - so it does work) up on a profile on the website Plenty of Fish, I found myself mildly excited and incredibly curious. There was a world of easily approachable women, all with pre-filterable descriptions based on what I wanted from a female. How incredible. How very, very exciting!
It turned out to be not too exciting quite quickly.
Having a filtering system is all well and good, but it means that you have to have some already-considered list of attributes that you think would be nice in the lady you hope to woo, who also has to like your own attributes that she has to consider good and proper and in line with what she wants in a man that she would like to woo, too. Ah. OK. Right. This is beginning to look not-so-easy.
This is where the good old self-doubt and self-consciousness come to tea.
It is pretty well known that the ratio of males to females on online-dating is largely similar. The ratio does at times skew on way, or another, depending on where you are geographically, but the numbers are generally equal. However, according to 'nextadvisor' research blog, it is men who tend to send the first message on dating sites and try to generate conversation than it is women. So although there is little gender difference in terms of numbers, women are often bombarded with messages from lots of guys wanting their conversation and interest, so it is easy to presume that women will probably not respond to an awful lot of these messages. Which would seem about right. If it was the same way, I doubt I would find time to respond to loads of messages. But I was witness to this first hand. Because I rarely got responses. Boo-hoo, boo-hiss.
I had, at a point, been doing online dating for probably about a year in total. I took the approach that I wasn't just going to mass-message anyone, deciding that a subtle but personalised message would be the one to find the woman of my dreams. Read the profile, take in some key information then write away.
This was a bad idea too.
When you're a self-conscious, not-very-self-confident person, allowing yourself to be rejected by default time and time again really does nothing for your self-esteem and endeavour to find a date. For me, it just generally made me feel a bit like crap every time my mood allowed, which is probably the same for most people. And this is why I decided that I'm no longer going to use online dating. For my head, and for my heart.
I have discovered lot of things about myself over the last so-many years. I have discovered an extra few stone (possibly linked into the reasons for being out of luck with the ladies..) round my stomach, I've discovered that, to varying degrees of success that I can write, and that I want to write, and I've discovered that decided against online dating has actually made me feel a whole lot better about life.
There is no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to dating. And if there was it wouldn't be such an interesting topic. But for me, deleting the apps and just letting things happen (nothing has happened yet..) has made me feel like a much more confident and steady individual. If you've had trouble with self-confidence (haven't we all?) it could be a great idea to leave off online dating and not force the issue.
Or, you could go mega, and swipe right on absolutely everybody until you wake up married. Each to their own, I guess.