“I can’t believe you’re going to start online dating again,” my colleague Jess said. “Why, how else am I supposed to meet women? And don’t say at work, that way lies pain and calamity.”
“Oh, for goodness sake.”
We were in the Costa across the road from work.
I said, “Jessica, online dating lost its stigma years ago. What do you think this is, the nineties? It’s fine now. We do everything online these days. We order taxis. We order pizzas. Why not order a relationship?”
“You really think it’s that easy, don’t you?”
“Well, no. I’m single, remember? But the principle is sound.”
“And you’re still doing your blog, I suppose.”
I looked away with a smirk. The aim was to imply hidden danger, but the truth was I hadn’t blogged for weeks – work had erased my free time. Nevertheless, I still considered myself a stalwart of the London blogging scene.
“Actually, I’ve been giving it a rest recently, but I’m going to relaunch soon.”
“Don’t tell me, launch party at Soho House.”
“Honestly, why do I share so much with you?”
“Because you want me to say you’re amazing – that you’re going to break through – that you’re going to be the…”
“Don’t say it.”
“…male Carrie Bradshaw.”
“Jesus.” I took a sip of my americano. “At least you didn’t say male Bridget Jones.”
“I was going to, but thought Carrie would be more appropriate. Anyway, dating bloggers are everywhere now so you’d better do something special this time around.”
Jess was right. The world of the dating blogger was a crowded place. And it was becoming increasingly difficult to stand out. Being a man helped – as did my comedic lack of success. But other than that my schtick was starting to feel a little staid. It was the reason I had stopped blogging. No one wants staid schtick. I was finding it hard to slot in with the rest of the dating bloggers – to be relevant. Then I realised something. A convenient truth, if you will – I didn’t have to slot in.
I realised there was no compulsion to follow the others. As I see it, dating bloggers come in two types: The Advisors and The Raconteurs. The former are unusual; preposterous and disarming at the same time. Surprisingly, they are almost always earnest singletons looking for the Real Thing (how this qualifies them to offer relationship advice, I do not know). These ditzy keyboard-clackers write with feverish enthusiasm, determined to renovate our lives. Despite the ridiculous premise, there is something delightfully straightforward about their advice, which can be summarised as follows:
Go For It!
My advice – the little I have to give – follows a different line. Don’t go for it. Being urged not to jump is also good counsel.
Like voting conservative, or checking up on the bin-men on your day off, it’s not something you want to shout about but it makes sense. I am the sharp but friendly voice over the police loud hailer talking you down from the edge.
This brings me to the second type of dating blogger: The Raconteur. This type of blogger also follows a pattern. They go on dates with unsuitable people – then write about them in disparaging terms. The subject of the critique – some poor sap looking for romance – is always described as a nuisance to be rid of. At best a disappointment, at worst a narcissistic clod. The dating blogger – a writer with a continental-sized blind side – presents as the normal person in the narrative. A sunny-side-up Pollyanna who signs off with a quirky better luck next time quip. Every date is framed as a forehead-wiping near miss – a flash of terror, a wave of revulsion. With no small amount of poignance I should say that my reports are in fact identical – only in reverse. I am that clod.
That’s right. I blog about my dates – and very little else. While my contemporaries like to guide and advise, I prefer to focus on fact, no matter how dour or discouraging. The truth is I am habitually unsuccessful with women (which is just as well – no one wants to read about the successful guy who gets the girl). And I have chronicled my washouts with granular precision. My blog – a simple WordPress affair – has been a moderate hit as well as a source of quiet pride. I should also say I am pleased my failure has some utility. My defeats are, after all, a feature of my life – not to mention the well from which I draw my literary water.
My flops make me who I am – both online and off. As for the rest of me, there isn’t a great deal to say. I am 31 years old and work in the City for an investment bank. In HR, not the money making part, unfortunately. Still, things are going alright for me. For a while it all looked a bit wobbly, but I am back on form (mostly). The life-tremor was all my own fault anyway. I overreached, as we all do from time to time, but I managed to steady the matter. I am a battler. I am ridiculous. I am Marcello. And this is what happened to me.
Next week: My friend mocked my dating blog
You can read more of Marcello’s book on WATC here.
You can purchase his book here.