Plenty Of Fish. Match. Tinder. All of these sites and apps are used by millions of people across the globe in hopes that they find love. It seems like meeting people the usual way has surpassed it’s time and now people are swiping and tapping on their phones to get a first date. Some are against it and some are all for it. I was one of the ones who was completely against it, but after embracing it for a couple of days I learned that online dating is a whole other animal. Here’s some of the things I’ve experienced and learned.

Number One: BE PREPARED!

I wish someone had warned me about the ‘dark side’ of online dating before I went ahead and downloaded some of the apps and created accounts. I went in to it thinking that I would meet some like minded individuals who would maybe like to talk about books and good films and bond over philosophical conversations. Oh, how wrong I was. Within the first 24 hours of my dating adventure I was about ready to give up. I’ll explain why in the nicest way possible without making my column look like Carrie Bradshaw’s a la Sex & The City. There are some guys out there who think that the way to a persons heart is through something commonly known in this day and age as a ‘D**k Pic’, or ‘Penis Pic’ if you’re more sophisticated. Yes, it happens. Before you ask about their interests they are straight in there with the unwanted picture and the even creepier caption that accompanies it. If you weren’t warned about these things then it can be quite a shock to the system. Thankfully, after the first one I learned to expect it and I found myself hunting the ‘block’ button on each of the apps. It’s a life and dignity saviour. So if you’re new to it, then please, expect it.

Number Two: Be Ready For MSN Deja Vu!

Remember MSN? The instant messaging social network which most of my generation used as teenagers to communicate with one another after school and on weekends when we had absolutely nothing to do apart from bitch about homework? Well, talking to random people on there would go a little something like this:

Stranger: Hi.

You: Hi.

Stranger: U K?

You: Yeah. U?

Stranger: Ye.

You: Cool.

Stranger: WUU2?

You: Nothing. U?

Stranger: Same.

You: BRB.

Stranger: K.

And that was (thankfully) the end of the conversation. When the MSN craze died down, I thought that conversations like these would be left way in my past, but upon chatting (if you can call it that) to guys on these dating sites, I found myself having extreme Deja Vu. The conversations mirrored those that I had when I was sixteen years old and not only is the lack of communication and one word answers annoying, but most of them don’t know how to spell properly. Is it really so hard to say ‘good’ instead of ‘gwd’ or ‘you’ instead of ‘you’? It’s literally just a letter or two that makes the difference. And don’t get me started on the word ‘lol’. It’s just… never mind. But sadly, this is the type of conversation you may find yourself having with someone even if you ask them a ton of questions to get the good vibes flowing. Sometimes they don’t even return the question so you will have a one word reply and nothing to respond to. This online dating this is tricky.

Number Three: Profile Perfection

During my online dating experiment I’ve spoken to a lot of people about their opinions on the subject and about 65% of them all raised concerns on the pressure of creating the perfect profile. I didn’t even realise I was doing it at first, but from further inspection I noticed that I spent way too much time creating the profile and persona I wanted the potential romantic interests to see. First is choosing the right picture, and this is where I usually struggle. We all have loads of selfies on our phones and most of them have been edited before being put on the internet, so essentially we’re setting someone up for disappointment when they see that we don’t have a natural ‘sepia filter’ around us at all times. But on the other hand, you don’t want to put up a ‘normal’ photo in case something thinks that you’ve put up your ‘best’ photo. It’s very superficial and it takes up most of my time when creating a profile and it’s not only that that makes me worry. It’s the ‘bio’ you write about yourself on it too. When I click on someone’s profile I usually read their bio to see what kind of things they’re in to, what they do for a living and where they’re from. I usually stick with old faithful, explaining I’m a 23 year old writer and blogger from South Wales with a passion for tea, books and horror movies and so far it’s got some interesting conversations going. The lesson here is to not worry too much. It can drive you crazy and you can end up in an awkward situation if you’re not yourself at all.

Number Four: Be Calm, Cool and Collected. Unless you’re me…

It’s no secret that at times, I am probably the most socially awkward person on the face of the Earth. I say things. STUPID things. Things that shouldn’t be said out loud. But for some reason, I just can’t stop. This has led to many a conversation where it ended with me regretting my choice of words, waiting for a reply and not getting one. It’s a curse. So I’ve tried really hard to try and be as normal and sophisticated as possible and through that I’ve learned to resemble what society deems a ‘normal’ human. It’s boring, but it gets the conversation going sometimes. All you have to do is ask questions about their career, their hobbies, their taste in music or you can just do what I do and use Google or go to friends for advice. Works like a charm. But if that doesn’t work, then don’t feel bad. Sometimes it’s hard to interpret humour or sarcasm over text, and is probably why I’ve failed so many conversations because I’m a cheesy jokes and sarcasm kind of guy all around. This is why meeting people face to face without an online conversation first works way better.

Number Five: There Are Actually Cool People Out There!

Once you’ve experienced the X-Rated pictures and small talk conversations, it can sometimes give you the feeling to want to give up, but before you do, I would suggest sticking to it. During my time on these apps/sites I’ve struck up some really good conversations with people and some have ended up becoming good friends of mine who I talk to on a regular basis. I’m a hopeless romantic, so I’m not really in to the one night stand kind of vibe, so talking to people who are interested in getting to know me and wanting to hang out is a good feel
ing. Sometimes your interests and taste in various cult phenomenons can do the talking for you and instantly you can bond with someone over common ground. I usually get a little bit ‘too’ excited if anyone talks to me about Doctor Who, comic books or a good novel. All the negative points made me almost gave up but I’m glad I didn’t because it wouldn’t have led to number six…

Number Six: I Went On An Actual Date With An Actual Person

My ideal date would be meeting someone one day in a bookshop, and we would both look at each other and get to talking about books. Then, instead of doing the usual cliché dating ritual of buying a coffee or a cinema ticket, we’d buy each other a book, swap numbers and meet up for date number 2 where we’d give opinions on the books and talk more about each other etc. Unfortunately, this has never happened and talking to people online has pretty much thrown out the fantasy of me ever meeting a potential prince charming in a book shop, but it’s not all bad. I ended up talking to someone who I got on REALLY well with, and after a few days of texting back and forth we decided to hang out together. Nothing serious. Nothing low key. Just two people hanging out. It took the pressure off the ‘D’ word. (I mean Date, not what you’re thinking. Filthy.) But after texting someone for a while, you can forget that they’re actual real people who exist in the same town and that you could bump into, so arranging this ‘hang out’ was a little bit scary. But I decided to jump in with both feet and go for it and honestly, I had a GREAT time. It taught me to be brave when it comes to taking the plunge and doing so has built my confidence. We went for a drive and sat down the beach drinking cheap petrol station cappuccino’s talking about music and films and BOOKS! (YAY!) We’re still in the process of arranging hang out number two for next week so a big shout out to Tinder for that one.

So to wrap it up, I would definitely say that my adventure with online dating has been somewhat of a potential success. Of course, it’s not for everyone, but this whole thing has taught me a lot. I’ve learned to be confident, to be a little braver and to be spontaneous for the right reasons. I’ve also learned that there is such thing as too many d**k pics, but that’s neither here nor there.

If you’re thinking of online dating then just think of the steps I talked about. Be prepared for creepy people, x rated pictures, strange requests and most importantly, to be wooed by someone that’s actually pretty decent. It’s all worth it in the end.

I’d still much prefer to meet someone without the pressure of choosing the right selfie, the right bio and the right emoji, but this online dating thing isn’t so bad after all. Maybe I’ll find the love of my life on my iPhone or maybe I’ll still be single in 5 years multiple boxes of Jaffa Cakes with 5 cats, but at least I will have tried this crazy, crazy experience.

Until next time,

Happy Dating. (Unless you’re taken. Then happy… boning)

Josh

xoxo

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