Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Difference Between Internet Dating In America and In The UK

People in America take it quite seriously. We don't.

I'd comment on the French too, but they haven't got Broadband yet.

Monday, April 24, 2006

It's only internet dating, but I like it, like it, yes I do.

Oh the joy. The pure, unadulterated joy of going through an inbox you haven't looked at for 3 weeks.

"But Datingmonkey! What's in your box?", I hear you cry. Now that, my friends, is my business. But my internet dating inbox is another thing altogether.

LOOK at the vaguely aggressive email from someone I wasn't aware I had ever corresponded with. "I have given you my number but you haven't phoned me so I have decided you aren't interested. Have a nice life." I say, he sounds cross.

SIGH at the grammatical excellence sewn into the very heart of "Hi!! U look fun, want to meet up for some chats??!" Of course I do, my dear!

WONDER at the fact that some people read your profile and think that you will have anything in common, when you are you, and they are them, and them is 59 and from Stoke on Trent

GASP at the number of people having 'family troubles' meaning they are "unable to meet up, even though I suggested it a few weeks ago" (Again, amnesia on my part: when did this exchange happen? Have I really been that drunk for this long? What is my name? Who am I? Where am I going? WHO ARE YOU? WHAT DO YOU WANT? GO AWAY)

LAUGH at the fact that the person you were seeing 'for a bit' (i.e. under 3 months) last year (who is quite nice really) is using a photograph you took of him when you were on holiday as his Main Profile Picture.

Oh, I could go on, but I won't. And why haven't I checked my inbox for weeks? Because I haven't.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


What do you do if you meet someone off of the internet and realise within seconds that he's a pointless cockmonkey?

I have found that the usual methods (running away, shouting 'OH MY CHRIST YOU ARE NOT WHAT I WANTED' in his face, pretending best mate has phoned and is dead, etc) may be less effective than 'subtly' dropping any of the following into conversation:

- does he want kids?
- does he believe in marriage?
- does he believe in the one true Lord, Jesus Christ?
- is he an anal virgin?
- would he like to see a photograph of your cats?
- would he like to accompany you to Phantom of the Opera?
- would he mind if you licked his face?
- doesn't he agree that Jean-Marie Le Pen represents all that is true and right in the world?
- doesn't he agree that Julian Lloyd-Weber was the really talented one?
- tell him you can't see what all the fuss is about, and that of course Bush was right?
- tell him you don't believe in sex before marriage, but that God wouldn't want you to be unhappy, so you'll do 'anything but' as long as it's in the dark so God can't see.

Anyone else got any ideas?

LIVELY DEBATE CONTINUES AROUND ...(Well, it doesn't, but wishful thinking is the premise upon which internet dating is built, so it would be foolish not to indulge myself occasionally)

1. "Does doing internet dating make me a loser?" (Mike, Boston)

2. "Is internet dating simply another way of meeting great people, merely facilitated by the explosion in digital technology?" Kiki La Rue, Richmond)

3. "Does she mean it if she's 38 and says she 'maybe' wants kids?" (Paul, Newcastle)

4. "Does 'bubbly' mean 'fat and annoying'?" (LG, London)

5. "Does the Lord love women who use the internet to find men for casual sex?" (EB, Nebraska)

6. "No news from him for 3 weeks: he must have died, right?" (Kate, Melbourne)

7. "Today I cradled my cat in my arms and kissed him and called him "Bubba". Do you think my desperation will leak out of me when I meet men off the internet?" (CP, Ealing)

8. "Anyone got any ideas on how to screen out the desperate late-30s bitches with the biological clocks ticking? They lie about their ages and shit, and what's with using 10 year old pictures? They're always 40lbs fatter than they say they are, too, and kinda ugly." (Chas, NYC)

9. "Why is James Blunt?" (Everyone, The World)

10. "What does it mean if his profile picture shows him with a woman, but her face has been scrubbed out with a pin?" (Jackie, Barnsley)

11. "Can I trust a man who, in his profile photograph, leans on his red Ferrari, and wears a large moustache shaped like an upside down hirsute banana?" (Liz, Canary Wharf)

12. "She looks like my mother. Is it wrong to fancy her?" (Patrick, Sussex)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Datingmonkey's Guide To UK Internet Dating Sites

The point of internet dating is to meet new people. Therefore, the more members a site has, the more likely you are to meet someone. Fact.

So, much as it galls me to admit it, the big ones are a good place to start if you're new to it all; they're well-designed, easy to use, quite a laugh and, well, full of potential lurve interest.

If you've been doing it a while and aren't having much luck, try or Particularly good if you're over the age of 25 and can hold open a big newspaper with both your hands.

Right, first bit of advice: try and be on more than one site. It's the same as drinking in more than one pub. And if you are on more than one site, I'd use the same profile and photographs. Not sure why; it just seems sensible.

Very high fox count. Join immediately. Quite London, but maybe that's because I live in Brixton and put 'lives within 10 miles' as one of my search criteria. Enough eccentrics to make it interesting, and very few boring cocks from Merton - although it has got, as you would expect, a fairly high tofu shoe-wearing vegan count.

Getting increasingly stalker-y though: you can see who's looked at your profile, which is a bit gutting when it's someone you like the look of and they've looked at your gurning monkey gob and the inane witterings of your profile and just moved on.

No rubbish 'winking' (otherwise known as "you look Ok but I can't be arsed to write to you"); fans and favourites and all that. Nice to use though, although according to 'My Matches' I should be getting jiggy with a 40 year old estate agent from Basildon with whom I have a 98% match. And that, obviously, is preposterous.

On the whole I've met some high quality gentlemen on it though, if you discount the man who wasn't over the ex-girlfriend he split up with over a year before we met, the alcoholic and the man I nearly met who said he was 42 and was in fact 49. I pointed out he was only 6 years younger than my mother. That shut the fucker up.

Dates gone on with men off it: c. 15
Romantic action: 6
Friends made: 3

Like the Guardian, but more tweed than tofu.

This nearly works. But it doesn't quite yet. What's good about it is that it's far less stalker-y than the other sites: you can't see who's looked at your profile or when someone last logged in. You also have to enter a security code to send a reply, and you can't delete a message without sending a 'courtesy reply'. I like that, because it encourages people to be well-mannered and that's always a nice thing.

But ... and this is the big but. It's great it loads of ways and should work brilliantly; it's just the quality of totty on it ain't all that. I had a couple of interesting emails but on the whole it's 'HI BABE YOUR PROFILE CAUGHT MY EYE WE'VE GOT A LOAD IN COMMON' (no we haven't), and one man asked me if I liked llamas for the simple reason that, well, he bred llamas. No word of a lie, as they say in Peckham.

It also lacks a bit of charm; it's almost too professional, slick and American. And let's face it, we're used to things being a bit shit in Britain, so that's a bit frightening.

Oh how I wish I could say I hated it. But I don't - for the simple reason that there are loads and loads and loads of people on it (and I've just met someone amazing on it - proper amazing, not 'not a twat' amazing), and it's quite a laugh to use. The fact is that however flash/charming/fun to use a site is, unless the people are on it, there's no point.

If you're new to internet dating, join It's safe and friendly and easy to use and - well, there's a load of people on it. And that, my friends, is the point of it all.

One thing: they don't take Switch. How spazzy is that. I had to borrow a mate's Visa card to join. What a pain.

Dates gone on (in the old days when I had a Visa card): 10
Romantic action: 4
Number of men met who whisked me off to suite in Covent Garden Hotel, showered me with delightful presents then disappeared: 1
Friends made: 1 (very high quality one)
Really lovely new people just met: 1

Is it just me, or is everyone on Udate really minging? Has one of those online chat facilities but all the men on it try and make you go to msn so they can tell you what they want to do to you. But the main thing about it is that (unless I'm totally imagining it) all the men on it are really pikey. Apart from one posh bloke who I think is in to S&M. I think it's owned by, so it's sort of like their slightly common cousin from Luton.

I hate the design of it too. I think it's designed for pikeys who want a quick fumble in a hotel in Swanage, if I'm honest.

Dates gone on: 3
Romantic action: 1 (about 5 years ago before it was really pikey)
Men met who look nothing like their picture and dribble: 1
Friends made: 1/2 a one, vaguely

Kind of nice and cuddly. Quite thoughtful. Fewer idiots. Fewer writers and stuff and more accountants, which is fine, but you get my point. My best mate (ex-Online Dating Rejector) met her boyfriend on it and neither of them are cuddly. Or nice, come to think of it. Still, I like them, and they've just moved in with each other after a year.

I love the profile tool. It asks you questions that are nice to answer and might actually say something about you. There's something about it that's a bit tatty though, which I really like; it's a nice contrast to There's something about loveandfriends that I really like; it's a bit Heath Robinson, and very British - which makes it very charming. You get the feeling that most people on it are probably quite straightforward and nice. A good one to join if you're a bit older, i.e. over 35. Like me.

Dates gone on: 6
Romantic action: 0
Friends made: 1
For some reason dating direct really annoys me with its mean little text boxes and horrible purple and pink. It's mean-minded, somehow. You get hardly any space to write a profile; the pictures are hard to see; it's got really limited functionality and it's just no fun. If's advertising campaign does one thing to make me happy, it'll be to get them more members so that Dating Bloody Direct can't bang on (in their terrible Tube card ads) about how they're the UK's number 1 dating site. Oh just piss off. All of you. Now.

Dates gone on: 3
Romantic action: 0
Number of alcoholics met who pretended to be interested then got off with similarly alcoholic ex-best friend in France, then kept sending me unsigned cheques: 1
Friends made: 1 (very high quality)

This is a weird place. I should have guessed from the title. It's loads of people looking for a last-minute shag, or 'erotic chat', or housewives from Birmingham (and their husbands) looking for a "3-sum". What's disconcerting is the chat facility: you don't put a picture of your face up, you put a picture of your knob up. If you are logged on for more than 2 seconds someone will try and chat with you. Usually goes like this:

Hi babe wanna chat?
No thanks, busy
Cum on you feeling horny?
Er, no, I'm watching Coronation Street
Do you wanna be spanked?
Er, no
Cum on babe u and me let's have fun

It's absolutely fascinating - not because I find it titillating, because I don't, but because people are extraordinarily honest. I've had conversations with dwarves who like spanking, civil servants who like shagging women over size 26 and numerous obviously unemployed illiterates from Newcastle.

The day I thought I could never go on again was when a 66 year old man who looked like Father Christmas offered me "full nine inches", followed by an absolutely delightful 54 year old man who was obviously in the wrong place. I re-directed him to

Impossible to use, and absolute rubbish. I have no idea what's going on.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Internet Dating: Can I Expect A Good ROI?

The best things in life aren't free. This short piece may give you some idea of what ROI (Return On Investment, not Republic of Ireland - do keep up at the back) you can expect from your internet dating site membership fees, and includes a possible way of re-couping your hard-earned cash. Especially if you're still sitting alone one the sofa chainsmoking and watching out-takes of 'Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps' on a Tuesday evening.

I first tried internet dating in 1999. Of the seven years that have since elapsed, I would estimate that I have been 'active' for 3 years. (Not continuous years; bits of years put together to make three, interspersed with long periods of gainful employment, boyfriends, friends, incipient insanity, and generally trying to do things that are constructive). The maths works out a little like this:

£40 (2 x £20 pcm) x 12 x 3 = £1,440

For this investment, I have acquired:

4 x boyfriends + 5 x very good friends = 9 x gentlemen

£1,400 : 9 = £160 per head.

Here's how you can recoup your cash. If someone you meet online and like but don't fancy (or vice-versa, or by mutual agreement) meets a friend of yours and they 'get it on', you could consider charging commission. I would suggest 25%, which would mean a total possible refund of £40 per head, and would cover:

- cost of membership of site;
- emotional energy (time + energy + mild disappointment)

You could of course just thank the Sweet Lord of Internet Dating for the fact that this is how people people actually do meet: it's just a series of weird coincidences, and if Karma exists, they'll return the favour.

On the other hand, you could just stick with it. After all, you only need to get it right once.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Why Datingmonkey Must Exist to Dispense Advice

There's zillions of people trying to find love on the line, but can you find any advice written by people who actually do it? No you cannot. If you want you can get advice from the following places:

1. Books like 'The Rules for Internet Dating' which should, in my view, be burnt on the Pyre of Righteousness;

2. Books like 'How to Find Love Online and Win!', written by people called Dr Steven J Hoffenburger;

3. Very boring articles in magazines and newspapers written by people who have never even looked at an internet dating site, let alone posted a profile and gone on a date;

4. Blogs written by 24 year old girls in Ohio about their experiences ("He was just so cute, but I was kinda confused when he mentioned poetry!!!!!!", etc);

5. Blogs written by 35 year old men for other 35 year old men who have no friends and would explode attractive woman looked at them;

6. Po-faced but sensible advice written on the sites themselves, which are good reminders about safety but don't tell you much else.

I'm not saying I know much about anything, but I've had a pop. I'm a lady, so this is written from a lady's perspective, but as I reckon men and women are mostly the same (apart from skirts and stuff), a lot of it'll make sense if you're a man. In fact, if you're a man and you'd like to add something, I'd like to hear from you. (Not in That Way, unless you're over 6ft and like monkeys.)

In conclusion: I've met a load of fantastic people, and some people so awful they're funny. Has it worked? Well, I'm not shacked up with anyone, but I've made some very good friends and had a laugh. And as a friend of mine once said, "you only have to get it right once." And if I'm doing it, then someone like me's probably doing it too. That's how it works. And no, it's not weird anymore.

Good and Bad Things About Internet Dating

Internet dating is good. Sometimes, it can be boring, which is bad. It can be hard work.

Mainly, though, it is entertaining. Oh yes.

You see, all you do is turn on your computer, press some buttons, sometimes pay a bit of money, and there, within reach, are millions and millions of ladies and gentlemen for you to look at and choose from. Sometimes they even choose you. Even if you don't want them to.

Anyway. Some obviously random good and bad things about internet dating:


Can do it when naked and eating biscuits and/or cake.

Can do it when there's nothing else to do.

Can do it if you need brief sense that you are not a minger and/or loser

You get to go on dates with some people who turn into stories

You get to go on dates with people whose name you forget immediately, but you might meet them in a nice pub you don't
know of that you can then go to with people you actually like

You get to go on dates with people so awful they make you dribble

You get to go on dates with interesting people who turn into friends

If you want it, you can get random meaningless shags with people you wouldn't normally talk to

It's like a great big sweet shop full of men that you can pick from and maybe marry

It allows you to construct elaborate fantasies about being a farmer's wife

People you don't know send you pictures of their cock, which is always entertaining

People you don't know tell you all their secrets and they are BAD

Sometimes you meet someone and you actually have a relationship and sometimes they even work out

You realise some people are nice

And that some people should be shot

But mainly, it's a laugh. And you never know.


People sending you pictures of their (unattractive) cocks

Emails that go: "Hi, you look hott. Can I cum on your face?" (No. Now fuck off.)

Emails that go: "I am looking for FUN and then possibly MARRIAGE with the right lade" (Oh.)

Thinking someone sounds good, then they tell you they like playing a round of golf with the boys on a Saturday morning
Meeting someone who, in the flesh, does not match their pictures/emails, because they are a) ugly b) twats

It costs a bit of money (or a lot of money if you're signed up on lots of sites - watch out for the 'automatic renewal' box - and DON'T say yes, unless you're sure you like the site)

You can search for 2 hours (only if nothing else to do and/or drunk) and see only people whose name you wouldn't have remembered at university

Photographs of men leaning on their car

Photographs of men with the woman also in the picture SCRUBBED OUT WITH A PIN

Photographs of men with someone else's baby

Men who are separated. They are not divorced. They have issues. Avoid.




Detoriating eyesight

The almost constant reminder that most people can't spell

And are ugly.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Some Types of Gentlemen And Their Profiles

As you embark upon your search for Digi-Love, you will find that gentleman callers on the line can be classified into what I like to call Types.

They are, broadly, thus:



a) Mr Businessman;
b) Intellectual Freakshow;
c) The Nearly Published.

1a) Mr Businessman

These people always use pictures taken for their online corporate manual. They say things like:

"Equipped with an MBA, and following a successful term at Harvard Business School, I nevertheless find the challenge of running our leading international team of coffee futures consultants a challenging and rewarding task. But it's not all work and no play - that would make Jack a very dull boy indeed! I have a number of interests, all of which I excel at - partly because I am a stranger to failure. I travel a lot being important. I am looking for a feminine woman who takes care of herself and likes to be treated well. My interests include scuba diving and rugby'.

They are always over 6ft, clean shaven, and are proud of the fact that they can park their Porsche (which they describe as 'a magnificent piece of engineering') next to the other Porsches in the company car park.

If you are a bit of an idiot but can read enough to remember bits out of the Economist and nod now and then, you will like these sorts of people. Do not under any circumstances expect them to have a point of view about books and things, but do be prepared for them to take a keen interest in how you are turned out, and hope they don't buy you underwear (they think red crotchless 'panties' are 'foxy and great fun'). On your first date they will take you to a slightly over-lit and over-designed bar somewhere rubbish like Broadgate and talk about themselves. Tell them you like their suit, borrow £20 for a cab home, and leave.

1b) Intellectual Freakshow

These ones have headlines on their profiles that quote stuff you've never heard of, in the hope that they will meet a similarly intellectual person that they can talk at. 'Dostoevsky seeks Idiot' would be funny, so they wouldn't do that. They also wouldn't be obvious, like "Buck seeks Molly" for example. They will go for some minor character in some really rubbish Chekhov play (a servant or something), and do a 'seeks' with someone that the character refers to once in Act 2 Scene IV. They don't realise that even really clever people like for e.g. Nancy Mitford and Molesworth. These people are a bit like Charles Tansley in To The Lighthouse (which they say they've read, but they've only read the first section).

They never have any money, smoke roll-ups, never buy dinner and think it's OK to go to a rubbish pub on the South Bank somewhere and buy you beer, hoping that their conversation will be adequate compensation for the fact that they don't know how to treat a lady nice, probably because they went to a minor public school in the middle of a field in Dorset and aren't sure what to do with ladies, further proven by the fact that they are always really rubbish in bed. They think they're being sensitive and stare moistly into your eyes a lot muttering snatches of Rumanian poetry sort of panting a bit. This will make you feel a bit sick. They dress with elaborate care, which means they often look like tramps. They smell like hamsters.

You might like them if you are doing an MA at Birkbeck in Literary Jurisprudence and are still wearing the glasses you got when you did your first degree. If you are these, and also a virgin, and Rumanian, that would be good.

1c) The Nearly Published

"I am currently working on two screenplays, one of which has been well-received by a number of literary agents, and have recently had a show at the Edinburgh Fringe. Next summer we go into production on my short film, based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson and shot in car parks in Swansea'.

What this actually means is: "I used to work in advertising, but always hated myself for it. So at weekends I wrote until my little fingers bled and now, to hang on to my last vestige of self-respect, I am re-branding myself as an artist'. They wear fancy schmancy spectacles they don't really need because they think it makes them look clever, and live in painfully self-conscious flats in North London.

You will really like these types of people if you too work in advertising, or if you write a lot of poetry that you enter into competitions that you never win, apart from that one you entered on the internet that cost you £10 and for which you received a medal and certificate. If you did a lot of acting when you were doing your English degree at Reading, you may also like these types. Or type 1b. You choose.


This one's easy. The more extreme the sport, and the more they do, the more boring they are. For e.g:

1 x scuba diving COULD = interested in the beauty of the underwater world. (Or likes wearing rubber.)
Scuba diving + mountaineering = keen outdoors type, possibly goes on long holidays
Scuba diving + mountaineering + trekking in Himalayas = keen outdoors type, definitely goes on long holidays
Scuba diving + mountaineering + trekking + abseiling = away a lot
Scuba diving + mountaineering + trekking + abseiling + flying planes = too much money, not much sense, away a lot
Scuba diving + mountaineering + trekking + abseiling + flying planes + polar exploration = Ranulph Fiennes and/or will die soon.

You will like these boys if you were still playing netball in the sixth form and know how to put up a tent. You won't be able to see their face in their profile because they only ever include photographs of themselves as tiny dots in a blue sky/completely covered in ski gear/in a scubadiving outfit.


These ones are usually 38 but dress like they're 26 and live in Shoreditch. They think they're cool because they watch Nathan Barley and get all the jokes. They haven't quite realised that Shoreditch stopped being cool 5 years ago. They also haven't realised that 'cool' isn't cool anymore. So saying, their jobs sound cooler than they are. They are one of the following: advertising 'creatives' (i.e., take other peoples' ideas, make them a bit shit, then sell them to unsuspecting clients); 'Designer', meaning web designer working at at home; 'work in the music business', meaning work in a sound studio.

You will like these people if you are 25 and easily impressed.


Total genius.

"Hello ladies I am GIOVANNI new to London loking for fun with prety and kind ladies. So I like the animals, and also to hold hands. if you would like to meet for some sexy fun you contact me? So we start like friends, then we developp. Look forward to seeing you."

What is so sad is that a lot of them are breathtakingly handsome, with 10 PHds.


Keen on the Guardian, but probably reads it online because of the terrible waste of paper. Not that much between this one and the Intellectual Freakshow, if I'm honest, but these people may well have spent times in trees and wear matted jerseys that blend in with their hair.

"There is nothing more beautiful than being at Stonehenge when the sun is coming up. I believe in watching my eco-footprint and I believe that even vegetables have souls. I am looking for a free spirit, happy to walk bare-footed through life with me, occasionally stopping to drink some home-pressed cider and make a tofu bake. I work as a care assistant in the NHS but in the summer spend my time at festivals. You'll find me by the rainbow flag trying to touch the sun!!!"

Oddly, most of these people live in council flats in Peckham. Good luck to 'em, I say. You will like them if you believe in crystals, Nick Drake, recycling, bicycling, and not washing that much.


It's 60% of the men out there. Swear to you. They all look exactly the same. They live in places like High Wycombe or Merton or just outside Swindon. They have a company car (it's a 3-series BMW, and they love it), and they are just really nice, really ordinary people with no psychological problems, lots of good mates they seem to spend all their time on stag weekends with, and a good line in short-sleeved shirts that they wear outside their trousers. They have no facial hair and make sure they have a trim once a month. Their socks match, and their houses are clean. They should really have married Jackie from the 6th form but she moved to London and it's a bit late - she works in the media now and he always feels that she's laughing at him a bit.

I wish I wanted to be with a man like this, but I fear I would kill myself within the year. You will like them if you spend a lot of time emailing people on Friends Reunited and if you really, really want to settle down and have kids.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Stories About Bad Internet Dates

Not much else to say, really...


So la la, I think, I'm bored, just been chucked, feel a bit rubbish. Here is a man who seems quite clever and that, but more importantly is gasping with desperation to meet me. I'm not that interested, as it goes. 'What are you doing at the weekend?', he says. "Nothing much, just going to see Rachel Whiteread at the Tate", say I. (Yes, I know, sorry.) "Can I come?", he says. "Yeah, OK", say I. Nothing to lose, and all.

Anyway, I wake up that morning and think I can't be arsed, but then the old YOU JUST NEVER KNOW thing kicks in, so I drag myself onto the bus, sit on it, stare out of the window, etc. Get off, walk to the Tate. Weirdly, bump into the boyfriend of a good friend of mine. He says, Paul's in the shop, go and see if you can find him. I say, I'm meeting someone. I think: what if he's dire? Best not risk it.

Anyroad up, eventually find meeting spot. Then this thing lumbers into view. God, it's like the caterpillar with the hookah pipe in Alice in Wonderland, but with a tiny tiny head. I want to run away. He follows me around, mute, whilst I whisk round whatever's on. He likes something to do with Rousseau, I think, and a tiger. God. We go and have tea. I am hoping he will suggest drink. We sit on the outside bit of the members' bar and look at the dying light. And drink tea. And say nothing.

Me: Well, not saying much are we?
Him: I like the companionable silence.
Me: Oh.

I take photos of the dying light. They came out OK.

Then I send a text to myself. And then I go: I have to go into work. Lovely to meet you. Then 2 days later he emails saying, I had a great time, great to meet you. I email back saying, yes lovely, but I'm not sure we're going to get married. He emails straight back: GOD WHY IS IT ALWAYS LIKE THIS WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE LIKE THIS WHY CAN'T PEOPLE JUST FIND EACH OTHER AND BE FRIENDS.

Because you are a mute slug with a pin for a head.


Andy. That was his name. We went to a bar. He walked in with his steering wheel. What is that, I said. I don't want anyone to steal my baby, he said, pointing at a frosted purple Lotus Elise. Then he got stuck trying to get into the car when he left. I saw it. And I laughed.


We went on a date. I spent all night drawing faces on empty pistachio shells, so they looked like a swarm of kindly mice. Then I photographed them. For ages. He didn't notice. Then he went home.


Lots of emails.He liked golf. I turned up. He was tiny, and like a doll. He'd made out he was big, like a giant. We had a weird conversation. Then I left.


The very tall Canadian with no hair like Lurch, but thinner, who never called me back.


The man whose family suddenly became ill. All of them.

And the other one. The photographer. All of them? Ill? After he met me? Really?

The bloke I was at university with and didn't remember until I met him again, and by Christ, there's a reason why we hadn't been friends back then

The man with the online stationery store.

The Daily Mail journalist with the mouth in the Persian restaurant.

The man who took me off to a suite at the Covent Garden hotel, showered me with delightful presents, phoned me up every day for 3 weeks, then disappeared. Literally.

The man who sent me an email arranging to meet, but accidentally emailed all his internet laydeez at the same time. How we laughed.

The man who I told to piss off, so he assumed an entirely different online identity, and tried again.

The man who texted me thanking me for the really great night the night before (when I hadn't seen him for a week), then tried to pretend that texts could be sent by accident. He proved his point further by sending me a text in Spanish ("but I can't speak Spanish!").

The beautiful boy from Bristol who introduced me to his completely insane friend, setting off a chain of utterly bizarre events that culminated in a year-long attempt to launch a disposable golf tee, a fight in a bar in France, a fight at my birthday party, a sheepskin rug, a a fight in a car park in Cardiff, a near nervous breakdown, my ex-best friend and a blowjob in a conservatory in Devon

The confidence trickster who took up a half-joking invitation to France, shagged my ex-best friend in an orchard, drank my house dry, and encouraged my (alcoholic) ex-best friend to drink when I'd told him to stop. (They now live together, by the way, and yes, she still is my ex-best friend)

The bad novelist

The enormously tall and fat man who collected Jack Vettriano prints and told me he wanted me to bite his balls

The barman at the Electric

The therapist with bipolar disorder.


I hate these ones because even if you're not that interested ... well, you know.

1. Coffee at the Tate. He was quite attractive. We obviously had nothing in common. We left.

2. Furious obsessive gorgeous emails. We met. He ate noodles. I watched. We had one drink. He pretended he needed to pick his car up from the car pound, and left.

3. Funny, clever emails. We met. We had 3 drinks. He obviously thought I was an idiot. I thought he was dull. We left.

4. Beautiful man. Long evening. Very tall. Kissed. Got home. Found out he'd emailed my best mate (also on the online) ooh, about 4 minutes after he'd got home. From being out with me.

5. Drink at my local. He looked at me as if I were mad. We left.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Online Dating Isn't Weird Anymore

It just isn't. That's it really. The books and the magazines and the papers can make out it's new and weird and stuff, but it isn't.

Even old people think it's normal, but that's because they think the whole of the online is weird. So for them, internet dating just another bit of weirdness in an already weird thing, and old people, once they're old, are past caring if something's weird or not anyway. They're also really good at being plucky and learning new things, so they're just really proud that they've mastered the technology. They make their grandchildren do silent gagging gestures when they tell them they're meeting Frank (68) for a G&T at the Old Hind's Head on the High Street at the weekend and that they're really excited about it. When they show their grandchildren Frank's profile, the grandchildren actually do throw up, to cries of 'Oh GRAN!'.

Young people as young as 8 have BlackBerries, communicate by texting videos of themselves to each other when they're sitting next to each other in the back of Chemistry on Wednesday afternoons, and get all their course work off the online from a bloke in Utah for a small fee, so they don't care either. In fact the idea of meeting someone and actually talking to them just seems odd.

The people who are still a bit confused are the people in the middle who can remember when email was a thing that people in the Chemistry department at university used to send messages to people in the Physics department. When they started work in 1991, people still wrote memos and were proud to have regular access to a fax machine. They probably didn't get email until they were about 26, so are still, 10 years later, a bit impressed by the super-magic of the internationalsuperhighwaynet. These ones grit their teeth a bit when they admit to doing online dating, but if you ask me it's more the admission that they've got a job, a flat, a car, a 12" Powerbook and loads of friends who aren't weird, but haven't managed to get themselves shacked up, not the fact they're using the internet to do it. Or that's what I tell myself, anyway.

Stories About Good Internet Dates

These follow the same pattern, with two possible conclusions.

1. See man on the line OR man sees you.
2. Like look of each other.
3. Note with interest that object of interest writes well, and is funny (therefore is clever).
4. Exchange some emails.
5. Decide to talk on phone.
6. Talk on phone.
7. Still like each other.
8. Decide to meet.
9. Meet.


Find self surprised that person is in flesh as attractive as you had thought, or more so. (They are never quite as you expect them to be.) Spend evening together (or whatever it is you fancy doing). Get on well. Have very good time. Thank the Lord for the gift of the internationsuperhighwaynet. Exchange Awful Date Stories. Discover probably know someone the other knows. Kiss, or something. See each other again. Keep having nice time. Kiss again. Etc. Repeat*. OR don't do the kissing part, but keep in touch as like each other a lot. Become very good friends.** That's it really.

* then you get into Relationship Land, and then whatever rules you normally apply apply. One tip here: if you find the rules you usually apply never work (e.g. sleeping with them on first date, introducing them to your colleagues on 3rd date, suggesting third date is Taking In A Show Up West and Then A Bite To Eat At A Top London Eaterie), do the EXACT opposite of what you usually do, as an experiment. You'll be married before the year is up.

** I met two of my favourite people in the world through online dates. But here's how this works: the second one is now going out with another very good friend of mine, and the first one is going out with someone he met at the party of my best friend's boyfriend, who she met online. See? It works.

There's another way, too. Sometimes - for lots of reasons, a good one being that they have left the country for 3 months, which is something that has only very recently happened to me - you actually get involved in a good old-fashioned correspondence with someone interesting. You write each other letters. You look forward to their emails because they're interesting, funny, silly, sad, informative. Just plain well-written. And you do actually get to know each other a bit. You have to try and avoid getting romantic notions because there's that old chemistry thing that happens (or doesn't) when you meet, but this is one of the reasons why I like dating on the line so much. My only caveat here is that if they are in the country, and less than 100 miles away, there's really no good reason to correspond for that long without meeting. But if you come across someone who then goes a long, long way away a couple of days after you've started emailing each other and you both like writing: lucky you. (By the way, the conclusion to my 3 month story is that I've met him, and yes, he's a top bloke, and kind of like I thought he'd be.)

There aren't really any good stories here. Because they end well. Dull, isn't it?

Frequently Asked Internet Dating Etiquette Questions

Here are some situations that come up the whole time, so here's what I'd do in the same situation. The advantage of the online is anonymity, but I think you should behave as you would in 'real' life. That's not to say there isn't scope to be extravagantly rude if someone's going ON and ON ...

"I'm meeting someone next week but he won't tell me what his surname is or give me his mobile number."

Good Lord, why not? It's quite simple: either he does, or you don't meet him. What's he got to hide? A wife and 3 children?

I have met someone and I think he's absolutely amazing. I think he might be The One. Should I tell him?

Are you actually, literally, mad?

"Someone has sent me an email but I don't like the look of them. They sound sweet, and have put a lot of effort in. Do I ignore them?"

No. Email them back, thank them for writing, say you're not sure that you're compatible, and wish them luck.

"I emailed someone telling him I wasn't interested twice, and he keeps emailing me."

Ignore him. If it keeps going on, block him.

"A man sent me a picture of his cock and I didn't want him to."

Block him. End of. Unless you like the look of his cock. But that's up to you. Someone sent me a Powerpoint presentation once of 12 pictures of their knob, from 'resting' to - well ... anyway, I have nerves of steel so I just thought it was funny, but if you DON'T think this kind of thing is funny, and if they haven't asked you if you want to see pictures of their knob, then block them and report them to the site. Sounds a bit harsh, but if something makes you feel weird, then don't put up with it.

"I went on a date with someone who was OK, but I don't really want to see them again - not even as friends. I've got enough of those, and I didn't fancy him."

Email him the next morning thanking him for a nice evening, say you don't think you're compatible but that you enjoyed meeting him, and wish him luck.

"I went on a date with someone. It went well. He said he wanted to see me again, but it's been a week and I haven't heard from him."

He doesn't want to see you again, does he? People often say stuff like "we really must do this again!" because it's easier than saying, "Well, thanks for spending the evening with me, but on balance, and having listened to what you have to say, and having seen you in real life, I don't think I'm really interested." Only be pissed off if you paid for all the drinks or travelled a long way. Otherwise, put it down to experience and go on a date with someone else. And no, there's nothing wrong with you. Unless of course this happens every single time.

(I really can't fathom why people do this. Just sending a simple email the next morning is good manners, reasonable, and nothing to be frightened of doing. You're going to piss someone off much more by letting them think they're going to see you again. The only good thing about this is that I automatically dismiss people like this as lily-livered cockmonkeys. No, I'm not bitter.)

I have been on 8 dates with someone who I really like and we talk and email every day. We get on really well but he hasn't kissed me and I don't think that he's interested in me in that way. Should I ask him?

Bit of a tricky one this. If you get on that well and have seen each other that much, I think it's probably reasonable (bearing in mind the fact you met on a site about meeting someone for Womance) to ask. Not in a stalkery way, but in a nice, straightforward way.

There's a (very small) chance that he might be waiting for you to make the first move. There's an outside chance that he's been burnt badly and doesn't want to rush into anything. There's a tiny, tiny chance that he's in love with you for your mind. It's vaguely possible that he might be freaked out by womantic relationships, but if that's the case, have you really go the energy to deal with that?

You know what, after 36.5 years, numerous relationships, and loads and loads of dates, I know one thing and one thing only: if someone likes you, and you like them, you just end up kissing anyway. You can wait and wait to find out with this one, but it doesn't sound like you're going to be more than friends. But know what? Friends is really good. And isn't it fab that you met on the online? What you shouldn't do, though, is spend hours dissecting it with your friends. Just ask him. The evidence is there, if you ask me, but get it from the horse's mouth and move on, having met a new and lovely pal.

And anyway, as my Mum always says, he might have a brother.

I've been on a few dates with someone and we've slept with each other. I haven't heard from him for a week or so. Should I call him?

Well, assuming he's not in hospital, or there hasn't been a death in the family - you haven't heard from him for over a week, so he's obviously not that interested. If you want to call him to hear that from his tone of voice, go right ahead. Alternatively, you could keep your dignity, shout NEXT! and go on a date with someone else.