Rough Guide to Internet Dating – Part 2

Dating Acronyms – GSOH – good sense of humour, MWC – married with children, N/S – Non Smoking, LTR – long term relationship, NSA – no strings attached, SGL – Single

You may remember that having created my dating profile, selected everything I wanted in a man (and more), I kicked off the search for my perfect mate and was informed in no uncertain terms that a 6’3” childless, non-smoking pilot who lived round the corner hadn’t yet registered and would I please get real and reconsider my expectations immediately.
In the first few days I received somewhere in the region of 100 messages, then on the Friday evening this increased five-fold’

OK – so perhaps expecting him to live within spitting distance was a bit presumptuous, after all – if he was any sort of catch, he would be living in a small mansion in Slough, (just far enough from Terminal 5 not to be bothered by the noise I reckoned) and therefore I needed to extend my geographical range just a little. I was fairly certain that my long-haul pilot would probably not be living north of Watford but decided was best to err on the side of caution and would need to cast my net a tad further than my original preference (500 yards) to let’s say oh …150 miles. Yep – that should do it now all I had to do was search again… Rats! Still nothing and at this point I realised that maybe distance might not be the only issue and I would have to go through the humiliating process of lowering my sights in other areas.

A photo was still essential no matter what and I couldn’t (wouldn’t) change the fact that I didn’t want someone whose status was “Separated” because as far as I was concerned, I would never be sure whether being separated referred to a wife or reality. I did however, reduce the minimum height to 5’10” but couldn’t bring myself to go any lower (pardon the pun), hair became negotiable, income requirements were downsized in the hope that my intended beau was so rich he only had to work part time and I finally threw in the towel completely by ticking the “he may have children and they live away from home” box.

After yet another fruitless search it became horribly clear that the page inviting me to “pick the qualities and attributes that would press all my buttons”, was in fact, designed as for no more purpose than a cunning plan to lure me into a false sense of security, certain to make me part with somewhere in the region of thirty quid on a regular basis and with my hopes fading, all I could do was sit back and wait whilst I re-evaluated the whole messy situation.

I figured that somewhere on the site there must be a hidden “super search” engine which would obviously be far more reliable and yield far better results than the one I was currently trying to find the man of my dreams with. I didn’t ever find it but further navigation revealed both a “new members” and “members online” area -designed to ensure maximum gain for minimum effort at the click of a button. Cripes! not only did I qualify on both counts, my new cunning plan could simply be to sit back and let the mountain come to Mohammed so just to be sure I would be technologically prepared for every eventuality when my deluge of suitors arrived – I spent a bit of time familiarising myself with the whole on-line process.

The modus operandi seemed to be as follows: someone checks out your profile (at which point you are notified by a “pop up box” containing their name and photo). If that person likes the look of you they can send a “virtual wink”, an email or a request to chat. I figured all I had to do was to pop them into my basket and check out at the end using Paypal. It’s much easier in reality, the only checking out you do is their profile then decide whether to wink back, email them or in a number of cases – hope they have made a terrible mistake and clicked the left mouse button by accident.

Having said all that, if I were awarding marks out of 10 for an instant ego boost it was probably hovering somewhere between “8 and 9” as I watched my mailbox slowly filling up with a variety of messages such as “Lonely_guy has viewed your profile”, “bigbobjoylove_500 has winked at you”, “normy_bates has sent you a mail” (containing a photo of his mother no doubt) and “axe_murderer_john would like to chat with you”..

On reflection I have to say it’s extremely disappointing to be told that “soulmate_4U” (looking good!) is visiting your profile then he moves swiftly on without a by-your-leave –mail, wink, nothing! It is however, much more disconcerting to be on the receiving end of the same treatment from someone who has clearly been severely beaten with the ugly stick! The word “indignant” doesn’t even begin to cover that sort of humiliation!

Next you have to check out your potential admirers and despite the site assurances that “you match each other 99.99%” – a number of my requirements were not up for negotiation and I needed to confirm a few things about these men before delivering any sort of response. I was never going to move on the whole 5’10” thing and pictures can be deceiving. For instance, someone can look quite tall in a photo but on closer inspection you could notice that chairs in the background have been borrowed from their kid’s playschool and in reality, they are one inch short of an Oompah Loompah. It pays to scrutinise profiles and photos with auditor-like precision.

Whereas I am not attracted to small or skinny men, pumped-up macho bouncer-types don’t appeal much either. There is nothing attractive about a man who drinks raw eggs for breakfast as far as I am concerned. In addition, my potential date could under no circumstances be a smoker no matter how few and how much he wants to give up. It’s not because I am some holier than thou anti-fag campaigner but because I am an ex-smoker and the merest whiff of a B&H could well set me back on the road to yellow curtains and social suicide.

Mind you if someone’s profile indicates that they are looking for a woman between 18 and 55, 4’8” – 6’6”, slender, athletic, full figured, or a few extra pounds, with blonde, brown or red hair, single, married, divorced or separated with 0,1,2,3+ children, living anywhere between Clotted Cream Gorge and the Borough of Wee Haggis Tartan – they are either desperate, filled in their requirements whilst spammed out on hallucinogenic drugs or never quite got past the page where Janet and John said “see Spot run” and therefore needs to be avoided at all costs!

Anyway, once I had checked out the odd profile or ten, and established that none of my potential suitors would be banging their head on my elbow when we walked along the road, didn’t have “my little pony” wallpaper, were probably being truthful about their divorce, the state of their teeth and according to the photo – didn’t seem to be lying too badly about their age, I thought it was time to start considering my options.

I had decided from the outset that I would respond to anyone who took the time to write an email but in truth this sort of fell by the wayside for a number of reasons. if someone winked at me – depending on their profile information I was going to wink back or send a mail (brazen hussy!) but that I would probably avoid the chat thing until I’d got used the whole idea of what was essentially catalogue dating.

It took a couple of mid-week evenings wading through my mailbox to whittle it down a bit. I received nice mails from “proper” gentlemen who were very complimentary and some rather forward messages such as “Hi you look gorgeous – here’s my mobile, msn details, home number, work email, blood group… ” which I felt smacked of desperation and quite frankly there was no point in offering my number back as they’d probably run out of room on their SIM card anyway. One guy winked at me… I winked back (I was getting writer’s cramp by then) and he winked right back. Mental note

“no point communicating with someone who has nervous cyber tic.”

Then there’s the Swedish stalker. Lars (allegedly) was 60 and 5’3” according to his profile but with no photo to negate this information, I couldn’t be sure. I also wasn’t sure what part of my requirements he thought might have applied to him. He did however send the first of many, many e-mails which read something like “God kväll min hund inte kan köra vill du gifta dig med mig” which I believe translates to “Good evening, my dog cannot drive, will you marry me?” although I could be wrong about the message, the mind can play funny tricks. What I really wanted was “Jag är en BA pilot” – I don’t think you really need Babel fish for that one do you?

There was also a nice chap who came from Chelmsford and said he was 50 now he did have a photo but I think he must have uploaded his dad by mistake. He confessed to being a smoker and had small children (about a dozen I seem to recall) but in fairness he had sent me a very complimentary mail so I felt obliged to respond – starting with “Dear John” which is ironic really because that was his name! I thanked him for the mail, said he seemed a very genuine man but I didn’t think we were suited. Obviously he thought I was just playing hard to get and mailed me regularly for the next 2 months – he was never going to get a date but he would certainly have won a gold medal in the persistence Olympics!

In the first few days I received somewhere in the region of 100 messages, then on the Friday evening this increased five-fold.. I was thrilled!! The mountain was coming to Mohammed and no mistake, until I realised that pubs had called last orders and I was being contacted by every drunk in the country who was too smashed to even get into the local curry house.

Drunks aside – it was time to step things up a notch, throw caution to the wind, take the bull by the horns… sorry – got carried away there. In fact it was time for online chat, phone calls and who knows… maybe even a date??


Tracy is our Rough Guides Dating Blogger. Check out her hilarious journey through the world of online dating.

Tracy spent many years working in the City for UBS, MLIM & Blackrock (with our founder) and Barclays GRCB running helpdesks, IT Security and Customer Service before throwing in the corporate towel for a life in the country with the cockroach inspector. She now heads up the Customer Service team for Software solutions provider Access UK Ltd and is very happy thank you!

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