Why is the online dating world obsessed with traveling?
It seems that, after vacillating between gallery viewings and ‘curling up on the sofa with a glass of wine and a DVD’, travelling is the discerning London daters’ third favourite pass-time. Every single profile tips a nod towards the nomadic life.
Whether you portray yourself as a modest jet-setter or restless vagabond, a demonstrable love of travelling is essential if you wish to appear interesting.
In addition to a variety of itinerant tales, it is important to convey a penchant for authentic culinary experiences. A fondness for extreme sports also helps, as does an aversion to staying in actual ‘hotels’. In essence the aim is to paint a compelling portrait of a resting adventurer.
Becky’s match.com profile was the perfect example of such self-congratulatory gabble. It was perfunctory when considering her professional occupation – she was the office manager of a small but respectable law firm.
It was only when she mentioned travelling that her profile livened up, exploding into a Technicolor mosaic of life-affirming experiences.
Office work, seemingly a dour activity, could not possibly reflect Becky’s true nature. Her real passion, I learned from her sunny blurb, lay out on the road – somewhere between Patagonia and Prague.
Becky had travelled far and wide, her paradigm inevitably shifted by her exposure to the horrors of the world – chiefly child poverty and low rent tourism (i.e. noble peasants selling hand-crafted goods by the roadside).
Her recent adventures had ended some months ago and she was now back in London etching out a living until the next calling came…well, calling.
London, Becky said, had helped sooth her itchy feet. Being surrounded by such multiculturalism was nourishing, especially for a nice middle-class girl from the provinces.
We were in a cramped bar in Soho when I first raised the issue, it was our third date and ennui had already set in. Still, I quite fancied her.
“So,” I said, “how do you like London?”
“Oh, I love it, it’s so vibrant, you know?”
“Yes, I know.”
“There’s so much going on here, there’s all the markets and galleries – it’s great, and of course it’s so diverse. I love the people in the East End, it’s like another country sometimes, so…”
Vibrant, I thought.
No mention of work, I noted, as if the essence of London can only be found in the trashy boutiques of Brick Lane.
“So where did you like best?” I said, looking past her.
“It must have been Bali. We stayed with a lovely family that my friend met the year before, the father used to make these beautiful pots…such amazing people.”
Why the fixation with artisans? Sure, the world needs potters but I would have been more impressed meeting the local pimps and gun-runners.
“How long were you there?”
“Oh god,” she took a long sip of Chardonnay, “time runs away. It must have been weeks.”
“I see, and where were you before then?”
“So more of a holiday then.”
I said, “I suppose it is travelling, in the logistical sense. You are however playing pretty fast and loose with the terminology. I mean, getting the tube to work is travelling but it doesn’t mean I would put it on my profile.”
She didn’t say anything.
“Just joking,” I said.
I drained the last of my wine. Becky glanced at her watch and I made the international sign for the bill – signing an invisible cheque with a pen.
“Why do we still do that?” I asked, “we should make a finger tapping motion instead…”
Becky put her coat on.
“…you know, to show us paying by card.”
“I get it,” she said.
However when I thought about it, I’m not so sure she did.