Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Toppest of Top Tips

1.2m dates over the last 7 years. 4 boyfriends. 2 nearly boyfriends. 2 very close friends. 10 nearly-boyfriends. 32,123,432 emails. 4,321,221 profiles viewed, some in Lithuania. 2 friends nearly married to people they met on the line. 1 friend loved up with someone else I met on the line. One person I met on the line perfect for another friend of mine, but they haven't met yet. I've seen it all. (Nearly.)

Just don't. It's fun. Enjoy it. Meet people. Then behave like a right-minded person. In other words, don't think you're virtually in love after a week of intense emailing. You haven't even started to know them until you've met them at least 5 times.

That's it really.

Meet them somewhere public. Don't give out your home number or address. Never, ever meet them at home for the first date. Tell your mates what you're doing, and who with. If he won't give you his surname, or if you feel at all weird about it, don't do it. So saying, nothing bad's ever happened to me, unless you count the maggot with the pin head. And lots of very boring evenings.

Well, don't, but it's sort of sensible, just generally. Obviously I always listen to my own advice.

Don't lie in your profile. Don't pretend you're thin when you're not, or not mad when you are. Or that you're an air hostess when in fact you work in Barclays in High Wycombe. Just not worth it. And really tiring remembering what you've fibbed about. And anyway, what's the point. If you meet, it'll all come out eventually anyway. These things always do.

There are a lot of really decent, genuine people who really ARE looking for romance on the line. If you're just spit up with someone and need cheering up, or are having some kind of existential crisis, don't take the piss out of nice people. That's a general rule, come to think of it; what I'm saying, I suppose, is don't look to other people to make you feel better. It's not a salve for your troubled soul: it's other people going about their lives trying to find a partner. (Or a shag, but that's another story - see Guide to Internet Dating Sites).

Nothing wrong with that, but don't pretend you're up for something long-term when in fact you fancy a quick rummage down the back of an alley and a few nights having championship drinking races followed by a drunken shag. There are ways of making this clear in your profile: a good one is: "I'm not looking for a relationship, but am interested in making friends and rummaging about down the back of an alley", for example. (Delete as appropriate.)

If someone emails you, and you're not interested, don't ignore them: write back thanking them for their email, tell them you don't think you're compatible, and wish them luck. If you meet and you're not keen, email the next day and say the same thing - you know, 'it was great to meet you, but I can't see romance on the horizon. Happy to stay in touch, but if not - no worries. Good luck'. Or something. Tailor message as appropriate. And don't be mean (unless they were horrid). In other words, 'your ginger hair makes me feel physically sick' or 'I would no more introduce you to my friends than I would fly to the moon on a back of a winged monkey' would not be appropriate. You get my point.

The problem with this is that when you get back a bit pissed after a good evening, having a look at who's emailed you before you fall fully-clothed into your bed seems just the ticket. But then so do kebabs, phoning up exes now happily married to someone else, late night films on Channel 5 and texting everyone you know telling them you love them. Please try not to do it. You will - I promise - regret it in the morning. Put a post-it on your laptop or something.

I really, really hate all those things like 'The Rules'. I think they're a load of absolute cock, designed for the kind of women who haven't got a boyfriend because they're idiots, not because they just haven't met anyone they like. At their heart, they are disingenuous and ask you to behave in a truly revolting, manipulative way. But, for your own sake, after a date, let them contact you. However well the evening went, and however many emails they've sent you, and however keen they've seemed in email, once you met you're in Relationship Land, and in Relationship Land, it's best not to frighten the horses. Once you've met, you have to put the timer back to 0 and start again. And anyway, isn't it more fun when someone phones you up and asks you out again out of the blue?

If you've met and haven't heard from them for a week, give up. Time moves differently in Boy Land, but there are limits. Also, bear in mind that if they haven't had the decency to get in touch to even say "thanks, but no thanks", they're probably a knob anyway. And no, you don't need 'closure'; i.e. you DON'T need to send a snitty email saying "I haven't heard from you again so I assume you're not interested". Look at the evidence, my friend. Shout NEXT! and go on a date with someone else.

If you go to every date hoping to fall immediately in love and be married within 6 months, you are going to be disappointed. You're going out on a date. One date. With someone you haven't met. Just enjoy it. And don't worry about what happens tomorrow. So saying ...

A very wise friend said this to me one night. What he meant was that often it can seem a bit endless and tiresome all this meeting people and it not working out. But one day it will. So you can either stay at home picking your feet and watching the Coronation Street Omnibus, or you can put on clothes you look nice in, and go and have a delicious drink with an interesting sounding person, and just see what happens. You'll meet someone one day. Just enjoy finding them.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Don't Look For Love On The Line If You Are A Bit Mad

Listen to me. And listen hard. If you are unbalanced in ANY WAY, do not do it. I don't mean proper la-la-my-cat-is-a-baby mad, I mean unstable. Insecure. A bit shaky on your feet. Your momma didn't love you, or something. That kind of mad. Because you will find online dating addictive, and you will suddenly find yourself caring very much about whether or not Trevor from Milton Keynes (grey plastic shoes and all) has marked you as a favourite.

Put it in context. Usually, you are a fully functional, attractive human being. You move about the world revelling in your own loveliness/friends/life, blah blah blah. But suddenly someone who you would not normally notice in the street doesn't reply to your lazy half-arsed message (sent because no-one else was online), and you're chewing your arm off. Not good. Come on, we all want a decent relationship with another human being of about the same level of decent-ness as us, but to actually take seriously what someone you have NEVER MET thinks? No. Unstable.

OK, so there are times when you are feeling a bit sore. Like no-one will ever love you. That kind of pale grey relentless stuff. And it's cheering when nice boys wave at you on the online. Tell you you're pretty even though you haven't got a picture up. But please don't take it seriously. In fact, if I'm going to be really helpful here, don't take ANYTHING seriously until you've been on at least 5 dates and you've met their friends. Oh, go on, sleep with them on the first date, if you want to. I wouldn't recommend it, but if you really want to, do. But don't believe a word they say until you've seen what they keep under their bed. In fact, a rule for life: don't get attached for two months. At least. (Do as I say. Not as I do.)

I may be wrong. But better safe than sorry. Especially if you sometimes talk to your cat(s) like they're people. In baby voices.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Real Emails I Have Received And That Are Bad

Oh! I LOVE this bit!


Hi, on the girlfriend side of things, I've been seeing someone since September, but the way she has avoided spending two days in a row with me is a concern, as I love and value commitment, plus once before I was two timed by someone, so wonder if history is repeating from her. Online risks slipping to "flaming" harsh online talk one would never do in real life, and you did that to me, but I know if we meet we'd have a grand time, hence my humble quest for a drink with your grace.

[Does anyone know what this email means, at all?]


"Subject: My Life Is Brilliant

I met an angel, of that I'm sure... mail me!"

[It is no mistake that 'Blunt' rhymes with 'Cunt', as I am sure I am not the first to point out.]


Hello Pretty.
How are you doing today and i hope everything is Good over there?well i just got accross your profiles on here today and its really caught my intrest cos the way you're looking so attractive and seems you're a princess..That really rouched in my heart and soul that i can't go over without contact you and would really like to get to know you more better and it's would be very nice to meet you this nice beautiful lady.So i would like to know more about you,your family and lot's more..but before i go let me express myself to you in a little way.
Well am steven by name 39 year's old from brooklyn,newyork .Well i love swimming....playing football and and so on...i'm a passionate, sensitive and caring man who is not afraid to show his feelings. I'm a very tactile person and would like my date to be the same type of person.So i would like to stop here now and if you really found me intrested or wanna contact kinda send me an email directly to my personal email address.. xxxx and would be looking forward hearing from you.. Have a nice day..
Lot's of love and Blessing's

Holy shit. It seems I am a princess. Excellent!

Oh no. You see what happens is that I want to put loads of emails on this and then I do and then I delete them ... because it's nice people being nice. Oh dear. Maybe I have a heart.