Ten years ago Internet dating was relatively unheard of and five years ago meeting your partner this way was viewed as something to be ashamed of and either conceal or sheepishly admit with caution. Today, Internet dating is not only fashionable but actively encouraged by the media through features actually suggesting sites to sign up to for different types of people - gay, sporty, wine lovers, beautiful people, folks with a uniform fetish... the list is endless.
As the pace of life has got faster and working days longer, it has become more difficult to meet that man or women of your dreams. If you didn't meet anyone in the hedonistic university days when drunken snogging would herald the start of something, it becomes less and less likely you will meet someone out and about with the same ease. As work increasingly becomes your skeleton with the money earned supporting your lifestyle, alcohol takes a less dominant role in weekly proceedings and unfortunately so do nightclub flirtations.
There is a chance you might meet that special someone through friends but if you are like me, most of your friends are probably already paired off and nights out are often very couple heavy. One of the reasons for all these happy couples is the Internet. In the last few years, several of my friends have met significant others this way and I am attending my first Internet fuelled wedding later this year. Dating sites have allowed my single friends to find a set of people they actually have something in common with who are also single and interested in them and then through trial and error whittle this list down to one. Unlike in a club, pub or bar, all the people in their "inbox" are actively interested and have something in common with them. The probability of finding so many eligible suitors on the course of a night out is pretty low - reportedly one in 285,000. Dating sites remove the embarrassment and disappointment of knock-backs, approaching the unknown and the expectations that used to come with a night out. It also allows people to discover whether a potential partner is interested in having children any time in the future which is an awkward and scary question to ask early on but for some, means all the difference later.
Sure the person on the site might have posted an old picture, be stretching the truth about themselves or even outright lying but one meeting in a safe place will confirm or challenge whatever they have claimed about themselves and after chatting for a while on-line that first meeting will be marginally less awkward. Another friend of mine has recently rather tentatively joined a dating site. Not sure if she really wants a relationship yet or that she will even be in the country for much of this year, she is using it to test the waters.
I am rather ashamed to say that although I am firmly with partner, browsing the site is rather addictive, especially when my friend has allowed me to write the feeder messages initialising first contact. Several hours were spent browsing at the weekend and after several glasses of wine it became hysterical entertainment. The friend who is actually signed up to the site went to bed as the two of us remaining eagerly awaited a reply.
After hours of browsing, replying and waiting, I am surprised by how many people are on these sites and how variable they are. After sending one message, we managed to wheedle out the sleaze bag in one potential suitor:
How you going? I'm 30. I'm not sure about a white dress but I am single too. I've been doing this job for far too long but have finally got the guts to make a change and I am about to break out of the mould.
I am curious to get to know you and your "learnings"...”
Good morning, how did you sleep? That was very funny :) Are you indeed.. You are very attractive, wouldnt have thought you would have been single.
Whats your origin, as thats not the typical name I hear over here. Where do you work?
Thats good to be curious! I always am. I suppose learnings come if there is a spark between parties, and both feel very relaxed but at the same time curious about how each other feels close by. I am very different to most men, in the way In my mind, the woman has all the power and should be treated and touched unselfishly. Nothing better in the world than seeing a woman judder and shake.
Hope you have a nice day.”
Another guy online at the time immediately attracted our attention by his witty opening:
“I debated about posting a picture because I was afraid I would be recognised from the episode of Jeremy Kyle I was in last year when my wife told me she was having an affair with my best mate. Boy did she regret doing our laundry in public, I cut her good. I was off my medication at the time, so I managed to get off with just being electronically tagged. Anyways my psychologist says that I need to feel more confident and move on in my life, so I'm taking the first step.
If your name is Rita, that would be great as I already have that name tattooed on my forearm. If nothing else, I'd like to find a bird, who doesn't mind doing all the housework, mainly just with the gardening as I keep setting my tag off when I go outside.
I did have children but Lee’s in a young offenders institute and my Shane’s now with the social services. I’ve been re-housed a few times as I just don’t get on with my neighbours, all they seem to do is video me through the curtains and call the police about my music. I really like Jungle. So?
I’m off all the drugs at the moment and the doctors put me on Metronidazole so don’t go bringing me cider on our date as I’ll probably puke all over you.
If there are any lawyers out there I’d really like to hear from you as I’m up in court soon for a section 5 offence but I’m denying it, told 'em I was tying my shoelace and my pants fell down.
Okay, I'll be serious..
I must admit I initially joined this website for a laugh and assumed people on here must be desperate and or socially inept. But I was wrong, I've spoken to and gotten to know some great people on here.
I'm looking for someone with similar interests who's up for a random chat; and if we find we have something in common, maybe hang out and do a bit of sightseeing, go for a meal, dig for treasure, tip over some cows or something. I've listed friends as my motive but I could be interested in something more if things turn out well.....”
So after all this time spent browsing men I do not need or want, all I can say is, if you are single, sign yourself up and give it a go, either as a private project or as part of a girl's night in. There are so many people out there, sure some are slightly strange but others are worth getting to know if you will take the risk."