Tuesday, 5 June 2012

On One Hand This, On The Other That

Now, don't get me wrong. Like I said, there were plenty of profiles from women who seemed attractive, reasonably literate, and almost normal. But even then the profiles rarely told you anything. Allow me to deconstruct one example:

About Me
Hi, Don't want to write too much about myself here.
[Heaven forbid you should know what I'm really like]
I am fun, honest and genuine and strongly believe in treating people the way you yourself expect to be treated.[Unlike all the others who claim to be dull, dishonest and fake and who say they believe in treating people badly]
I do enjoy going out and having a vodka or two, but also just as happy to chill out at home with good company.[I like going out, but I also like staying in]
I have chosen 'looking for a relationship' option but certainly not wanting to rush into anything....what will be will be
[I may be looking for something serious but reserve the right to dump you if you start getting clingy]
I don't mean to appear rude if I don't reply to a message, just don't want to waste your time or mine.
[Give it your best shot but don't be surprised if you fail to meet my incredibly high standards]

Just what exactly are you supposed to write to someone like that? She has revealed precisely nothing about her personality (other then how capricious and indecisive she is), any interests that you may have in common, or much of any reason at all why you would want to date her.

But, the sad truth is that this sort of profile is good enough to ensure that a woman with reasonably attractive photos will attract plenty of interest. And, given that she hadn't written anything truly awful that would immediately rule her out as a potential prospect (no sign of mad catwoman tendencies, hideously chavvy children, or merchant navy grade tattoos), I was forced to send her one of my standard opening mails.

I wished it were otherwise. I wished online dating was actually the way I thought it would be when I first started: selecting perhaps one or two from a series of detailed profiles, where it seemed we really had something in common and there was that magical "chemistry". Then, writing something considered and meaningful, that touched upon our potential connection ... and, who knows, maybe even some woman doing something similar to me?

That notion was swiftly disabused by the appallingly low signal-to-noise ratio found on online dating sites. Basically, to get a reply, you had send at least ten mails, and chances are that one reply won't be followed up any further. I had, of course, very little idea what the female experience of dating sites was, and, while I expected it was probably also pretty negative (most guys are arseholes, after all), it had to be different. It really was just an online version of the old bar or club, with the few girls dressed up and looking pretty, while massively outnumbered by all the horny guys constantly trying to hit on them in various unsubtle ways.

So, I was resigned to it being a numbers game. But, at least, unlike that old bar or club, the online process was vastly cheaper, less humiliating and more efficient. So, if one was prepared to send out opening mails with the frequency of a black market Viagra supplier, one would eventually find a few takers.

And, so it proved, with a number of replies which seemed quite promising.