By Paul Baynham
When I was a twenty-something, I thought nothing of approaching someone I was attracted to in a bar, and striking up a conversation! Nowadays, it seems that this approach is not so acceptable. Apparently, it is frowned upon by many, and you may end up being viewed as weird or some kind of sex pest!
Even for people in their mid-years of life, it seems the means to meet someone to date, is via the medium of internet dating and the plethora of dating sites available.
Whether it be Tinder or something more highbrow, the whole experience can be an interesting (and at times) terrifying one.
When my ex-wife and I split six years ago, I vowed never to use internet dating. However, I soon realised that meeting someone is not as easy at it used to be. People don’t have the time or even the inclination to “trawl the bars” in search of a future life partner. Instead, they prefer to have the comfort of hiding behind a website or app, to cast their profile into the dating pool.
Some would even say they feel safer doing it this way, but is that really the case?
It is true that the world of internet dating is a potential minefield and I would admit that it is worse for women. The stories I’ve heard about what men expect, in a short space of time is shocking. Stories of sending “dick pics” within five minutes of talking to someone! Come on guys, who in their right mind thinks that would ever be a successful tactic or turn on! Some things are best left in your pants, so early in a potential relationship!
Men also seem to think that profile pics of them with a big fish, a tiger, with their sports car or on their boat will crave instant attraction from the recipient! The age of internet dating appears to bring out the Neanderthal in some men!
Having said that, internet dating for men isn’t without its pitfalls. There are standard clichés used by women, which set the alarm bells ringing.
“Studied at the university of life!”
“I’m a half glass full kind of girl!”
“Looking for my partner in crime!”
“I’m normal!” (we all know there is no such thing in life as normal!)
I have to say that after my first experience, I never thought I’d venture back online again.
If you will, please let me indulge you in this first experience and you might understand why.
I’d plucked up the courage to go online. I set up a profile and quite quickly had started chatting with someone in the next village to me. We exchanged messages and all seemed well.
We arranged to meet, and this is where my first mistake came! I agreed to go for dinner. It wasn’t until after that I learnt you should just meet for a coffee or drink, and have an exit strategy if there is no attraction or things go wrong.
We met in a pub first, where my date ordered a margarita. Bit hardcore I thought. Then came my second mistake. We went for dinner elsewhere, as she had eaten at the first place a few nights before. I assumed she had her car with her, but didn’t, and I drove us both there. A complete no no!
At the restaurant, I ordered a bottle of water and she asked for a Rioja. When asked if she wanted a large or small glass, the reply was, “a bottle!”
Alarm bells were ringing loudly by now, but I stuck with it. I decided to make the best of a bad situation and we chatted, very amiably during the starter. Then halfway through the main course, the atmosphere changed. My date went very quiet and I questioned why? She was reluctant to reply, but eventually said that all she wanted to do was take me home and ……….
Suitably distraught, I decided to pay the bill and get the hell out of there. However, being a chivalrous chap, I couldn’t leave my date in the restaurant. The alcohol had started to take effect and she was in no fit state to get herself home. I managed to get her in the car and dropped her home. I will spare you the additional detail, suffice to say, dessert was offered on a plate, but I politely declined!
A baptism of fire to internet dating, I think you’ll agree, and some invaluable lessons learnt.
I have been on internet dates since, with mixed results, but the things I have learnt, and would advise others to look out for:
1. Scrutinise the profile closely. If there are too many cliches in there, avoid them. Look for genuine and original profiles. Make sure there are photographs as well, and that they are not yellow and faded!
2. Make sure you strike up conversation and that it is two way and not stilted. Too many times the conversation is one way. I’m convinced there are people on these sites who are merely craving attention!
3. Try and speak before you meet.
4. When you do meet, make sure it is in public. I have found daytime coffee is the most effective means.
5. Have an escape plan. Have a friend text you and if things aren’t going well, that’s your excuse to get the hell out of there. You can bet your bottom dollar, that she will have one (and rightly so!).
6. Don’t go too far on the first date. A friendly kiss is fine, but anymore is just too much!
7. The second date can be dinner and then who knows where that will lead to in future dates.
Good luck, and remember, it’s a big pond out there!