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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Online Dating For The Indifferent & Awkward Woman

Dating - what even is it? That's what I kept asking myself as I was watching some cheesy rom-com a few weeks back and almost curling over with cringe. Over the last few months, I've made a promise to myself that I'd start writing about more personal things on here; stepping a way from fashion/ beauty the odd time to write about something a little bit different. That's when an idea sprung to mind!
Before I even jump into this tale of woe (not really), let me give you a little background on myself in regards to dating, love and all of that other mushy stuff. I'm indifferent to it at all; I've never had a boyfriend nor am I in any rush to have one, I've never been on a proper "date" nor am I in any rush to go on, I know more gay men than straight men and I'm in no rush to change that. I can honestly say I have absolutely zero to no interest in relationships or anything related to them. Yes, I've "seen" some guys in the past but nothing but drama has come out of it all. I'm 20 years young and whilst most of my gal pals have boyfriends/ go on dates, I simply just don't care. I'm not bothered because I've been hurt in the past and I'm not prepared to go through any drama of the sorts until I'm at least 30+. I'd rather lie in bed by myself on a Friday night watching Criminal Minds with a mountain of chocolate. I'm pretty okay with that too.
Now, for my big idea! Whilst pondering on my thoughts of dating, I ended up reading a heap of articles about it online. Since moving to London, I've found more women are open to online dating than back in Dublin. Grindr is a popular app for gay men; a heap of my gay pals back home use it and speak positively of it, but never have I heard a girl talk about anything of the likes until I moved here. Loads of women seem to use the "straight version", Tinder, and love it! I ended up reading articles about online dating and then subsequently scrolled for an hour or two on the most popular ones to see what all of the fuss is about. What was I missing out on?
One thing that stood out for me that night was that the majority - if not all - of the articles about online dating/ general dating experiences came from women who were pro's in the field. Women who have had at least 2-3 boyfriends, women who regularly dated and women who were confident in doing so. I came across none written by women who were disinterested/ indifferent to the subject at all. That's when my idea sprang to mind! I decided, all in the name of research, to give it a go from my viewpoint - the viewpoint of someone who quite frankly doesn't care/ want to go on dates anytime soon. 
I was apprehensive at first - What if someone finds me on a dating website and it's plastered all over the internet?! What if I'm stalked and some mass-murderer comes knocking on my door because of it!? However, in the end I realised this was 2013 and it's quite normal to sign up to these websites. I knew before I even signed up to any that the chances of me going out to meet someone in person were highly, highly, highly unlikely. The thought of sitting at a table with someone I've never met, discussing ourselves over cheap wine makes me want to vom.com.
Initially, I googled "what are the most popular dating websites in the UK" and signed up to the first few that popped up. These included Match.com, OkCupid, Lovestruck, Tinder and so on. The majority of these websites suggest you fill in and set up your profile as soon as possible so people see you - most of these included questionnaires about your life and interests, photos, marital status, education etc. All pretty straight-forward. I decided to give each of these websites a day to see which one I'd stick to in the end. Unfortunately, most of these websites seem to be making a lot of £££ out of singletons looking for love; on most of them you had to pay to even read and reply to messages! Ridiculous. After a day, I stuck with OkCupid and Tinder - both simple, quick and easy to use on my iPhone. 
Tinder was not my cup of tea at all after a while - after scrolling past hundreds of photos of men for nearly an hour and getting nowhere except to Thumb Ache Central - I gave up. I found it boring and deleted my account on the second day. However, OkCupid was actually surprising me! After filling in my profile and adding some photos, I ended up getting a heap of messages and within a day over 300 men "liked" me. I didn't know whether to be flattered or scared - I was just confused mainly. I've never been the girl all the guys fancy - to say my underbite turned boys off me during my teen years, would be an understatement! I wasn't used to it. I didn't take it seriously either because the majority of the men who liked me were old/ looked liked they worked in Dragon's Den.
On OkCupid, you can message people back and forth, look on profiles and answer questions for free - to see who "liked" you, you had to pay however (along with a few other benefits that I can't remember). One element of the website I really liked were the questions; you answer questions about yourself, views, religion etc and the website matches you up with people of similar views and gives you a percentage on how much you would get on with them in a relationship and/ or friendship. This saves people time and effort - especially if you think "John" is drop-dead gorgeous but actually admits to doing heavy drugs on a regularly basis. I'll pass!
I did receive some hilarious (and terrifying) messages during this escapade, for example; "you have the air of someone who could defeat a stubborn pet. Check out my profile and let me know if you can persuade my cat to do his chores." and "let’s get coffee in a well-lit public place and then rut urgently, like jackals". Christ on a bike, really? REALLY? It's safe to say I didn't reply to them.
If you liked the sound of someone, you could rate them 4-5 stars, if they rated you as high back, you'd get a message telling you "it's a match" between you both. The majority of messages I received were nice, initially. I talked casually to a few guys here and there but didn't find any of them interesting enough to ask out on a date. Nobody tugged at my heart strings. There was one guy I started talking to recently who was attractive and looked like my "type", we had a casual chat for an hour or two. He asked for my number and I reluctantly gave it to him. After bland What's App messages, a reply 12 hours later and then no reply at all - I gave up on that one. I can already hear the wedding bells, ahem..
It's nearing three weeks since signing up and researching for this post and I can honestly say internet dating (and dating in general) just isn't for me. Yes, it's a boost to the oul confidence seeing men "like" you but if they're not there in the flesh, it fizzles out. The whole point of online dating is to meet up with men and go on a date, I get that - but if you feel no spark for someone online, I don't feel the need to see them in person anytime soon.
What have I learnt during this time? Well, nothing mindblowing really. I've learnt that online dating isn't as big a taboo as I originally thought - people from all walks of life, career paths and so on use these websites. I can see how they can and do work but I honestly think you need to have the drive/ courage to do so properly. If you're like me and don't really want a relationship, online dating will merely serve as a confidence booster and a platform for a good chat here and there. Nothing that Facebook can't provide. If I ever meet the man of my dreams, I know for a fact it'll probably occur in the most random of places and times, not online.

Pros to online dating:
  • It's confidence boosting - "OMG, men actually like me!?"
  • Filling in questionnaires. This is probably just me but I've enjoyed filling out questionnaires since I was a young 'un. It's fun, okay?!
  • The chance you might actually get talking to someone you're actually attracted to.
  • It's interesting to see and experience what all of the fuss is about. 
Cons to online dating:
  • If you're like me and have a "type", prepare to scroll past 99.9% of the lads you come across.
  • Expect weird and odd messages; block the weirdos instantly.
  • The temptation to spend money for certain perks of a website.
  • Thinking that everyone on the packed Tube in the morning knows you from this dating website and is plotting a plan to kidnap you.

What advice do I have for any of you looking for love out there? Definitely give online dating a go. It's one of those things that needs to be experienced by the individual to fully understand it. Be honest in your profile writing, let your sense of humour shine through, don't give too much away but just enough so that you're intriguing. Spell-check everything because there is nothing more off-putting than sum1 hu talks lyk dis past the age of 18. Seriously. Upload 3-4 pictures; none of you with your hands down your underwear and pinching a girl's boob (I've actually seen this). Go for ones that show you for who you are - I'd suggest ones of you by yourself because it's pretty confusing when there's more than one person in the photo! Does the sound of dating still make your palms sweat and your heart race with panic? If so, don't rush anything or force yourself to do anything. If someone likes you enough, they should have patience - regardless of whether or not your relationship begins online.
I will be deleting my profile tonight and won't be signing up to anymore dating platforms in the near future. I'm glad I gave it a whirl for the purpose of this post; hopefully the viewpoint of someone socially-awkward and clueless about the opposite sex is somewhat insightful and relatable to some of you. It's okay to be single, it's okay to enjoy being single and it's okay to want to be single. Remember that! Now, to hunt down James Franco..

Have you ever used an online dating website? What was your experience - did you find it beneficial/ a waste of time? Did you meet the person of your dreams online?