because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

A Surprising Foray into Dating. Online. You Know. Like Serial Killers and Cat Owners Do.


‘You know that wearing extra eyeliner isn’t actually flirting, don’t you?’ she said to me.
‘I… that’s not… Of course. I mean…’ I was stuttering.
‘And that you’re not in a relationship with a guy simply because you’ve told me you fancy him?’

I hung my head in shame. This, Internet, is a romance intervention.

Those who love me have taken a vote: I need to get laid, and by somebody I actually like. They’ve qualified that vote with a clause stating that if I won’t grow some vagina and actually demonstrate affection for boys I might already know (because, OBVIOUSLY that’s impossible. Vulnerability and possible rejection and hey-I-was-totally-just-kidding-hahahaha awkwardness that ruins homework club/supper club/book club/Power ballad appreciation club? NOPE.) then I must meet new boys, who I’m to deliberately approach with L-word potential in mind.

Basically I’ve been condemned to online dating.

I’ve been thinking a lot about getting older, apparently wiser, and with the help of my girlfriends have realised that that yup. I’ve proved I can do it alone. Now it’s time to relocate those warm and smushies for a divorcee twelve years my senior who already has kids.

At my birthday party, an intimate dinner around the kitchen table for ten of my favourites, I asked my girls, Is that weird, if I only message divorced men with grey hair? I expected them to be like, Laura! Whatever you want! There aren’t any rules to this kind of thing! And of course instead they were all, ewwww, gross, that’s really creepy. No, Laura. The answer is no- you cannot only message divorced men. What’s wrong with you?

But then it feels even creepier arbitrarily telling the search engine that I’m a woman, looking for a man roughly between the ages of 30 and 40, and then deciding which of those men might be interesting based on a thumbnail-sized photo, and messaging them to say… what? “Nice profile”?

“I like Alexander McCall Smith too.”

“Oh, you skydived into the Himalayan hills to live with a remote tribe of aboriginals for a month, teaching them how to weave sustainable reed baskets that you now import and sell on Colombia Road in the non-profit you founded when you’re not being an exec in the banking industry? Are you a liar, or just really bad in bed?”

I like the Internet- I spend my life on it- and I think it makes perfect sense to look for a sweetheart by using a medium designed for other people also seeking a sweetheart. Also, I enjoy assessing people’s grammar before I commit to exacting fantasy about how we’ll plant the perennials in our herb garden whilst I wait for them to respond to my “wink”. But also: it’s full of crazies.

I spent Saturday morning setting up my profile, hopeful and a bit smug because I’d read an article on the Wall Street Journal about how to do it properly and I felt like I’d followed The Rules Of Profile Making pretty fucking well i.e. I’d date me.

I was tinkling away when a message popped up: Hey, your profile looks really great. You’re beautiful, too.

Bit much, I thought to myself, clicking to his profile. I decided that he seemed quite nice, though, possibly, if not a little eager. Maybe it was just the nerves of it all that made him seem unimaginative. Hmmmm, I wondered.

I got another message. Oh, I see you’ve looked at my photos and aren’t interested in me then, it said, which OH HAIIIII CRAZY.

I was startled, because who says that? THEN ANOTHER MESSAGE APPEARED. You know, you don’t give the impression on your page that you’re so superficial. It’s a bit misleading when you’re actually so shallow.

Can I get a rounding crescendo of what. the actual. fuck. Is this it? Is this what happens when you date online? HOW IS IT OKAY THAT WE CAN ALL SEE WHO HAS “VIEWED” US AND THEN NOT FOLLOWED THROUGH WITH A RESPONSE AND WHY CAN HE SEE THAT I’VE LOOKED AT HIM AND WHY HASN’T THE ONE I REALLY WANTED TO REPLY OPENED MY EMAIL AND OH LORD I’M GOING TO DIE ALONE AND THEY’LL FIND ME WITH NOTHING BUT CAKE CRUMBS ON MY CHEST AND MY HAND IN MY KNICKERS SHITSHITSHIT.

Urgh.

My worry was interrupted by a text: Been thinking. When you go on these dates, wearing eyeliner is too obvious. If I were you I wouldn’t wear ANY eyeliner, then men will guess by the ironic fact that you’re NOT wearing it that you want them.

I told my friend what had just happened, with the mean man. She replied and was supportive. 

Then she added: Your profile isn’t just lots of close-ups of your eyelashes, is it?


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