As human beings, we are needy little animals seeking the comfort, connection and occasionally, the procreative talents of a significant other. Our needs are primal, emotional and occasionally aesthetic (wouldn't you like a muse who inspires?). So how do we meet this elusive other when your life consists of sleep, work and self-inflicted bouts of soap operas, sporting events and cultural excursions ranging from the pub to the Royal Opera House? We do what the modern guy or gal about town does, we forget random meetings around the aisles of the supermarket and freaky flirtations in dimly lit basements where bass heavy music pounds like a heart in the throes of an attack, we embrace the Net.
Online dating is at its most basic like the pick and mix counter in a shop. It covers all angles and needs; some sites cater for people who like their partners to wear uniforms whilst others serve the fetish market that prefers their partner covered from head to toe in Muller Yoghurt or chocolate spread. The one factor that unifies all of the websites I have encountered is a fascination with the superficial. Each website is image obsessed. Users of the websites are encouraged to post profile photographs of themselves to entice likely buyers who may take a fancy to their winning smile because no photo equals less responses. Now correct me if I am wrong but physical appearance changes. Personally, I don't care how someone looks, I do care how they make me feel. Maybe, I am weird but I want to know all about a prospective partner, I don't care if you can apply make up to your face or smile seductively, I want to know about your likes and dislikes.
So as a prospective consumer as let's face it, most of the websites require you to give a regular amount of money, we are being encouraged to pick the people we are most attracted to on a physical level as the descriptions are hardly enticing or extensive. If I never have to read the line, 'I am looking for the One' again, it will be too soon. The 'checklist' approach to love is scary and is very odd. I have this image of users of online dating websites sitting in front of their computers with an A4 sheet of paper next to them listing the pertinent points, they are seeking in a partner. In many respects, not disimilar to a job interviewer basing their selection criteria on an aptitude test alone. Does s/he have blonde hair, a high level of solvency? Can s/he embroider clothes with the emblem of my favourite football team? Does s/he buy their clothes from Primark or Harvey Nichols? Do they roll over and snooze after sex or spout poetry in Sanskrit? These 'checklists' are hopefully unconscious, although I am sure they regularly exist in a physical form result in virtually no-one meeting anyone else physically in a date situation where you might actually have some fun or at the very least, make a new friend. Although, another interesting aside about online dating is the fact that friendship does not regularly seem to be an option. Looking for the love of your life is a full time occupation with hopefully the future benefits of accumulative capital investment (i.e. carnal knowledge leading to children who will help to disseminate the ideologies, moral codes and long guarded recipes to future generations) or else simply a companion to hug you and pick Pringles out of your nose whilst you watch a costume drama about Victorian rodents.
Okay, you have probably guessed I am single. I have also used these websites. I have tried free sites, I have tried subscription sites, there is essentially little difference between the two. My funniest experiences include receiving a message expressing 'how much I looked like David Tennant' and how due to her likeness to Billie Piper what a wonderful relationship we could have together. Now discarding two essential truths, one that I look nothing like David Tennant (our only similarity being that we are both men) and that Billie Piper has never struck me as my 'ideal woman', she may have been right but I still don't want to dress like Dr Who and court her wielding my sonic screwdriver. Another funny experience involved perhaps, the most arduous and teeth pulling attempt to get a date with a seemingly intelligent woman. Bar cutting off my own arms and legs or showing her every essay I wrote at university for her critical approval, we were not going to meet up. Jumping through hoops like a performing animal might be fun in the circus but in real life, it hurts and wastes time. I hope she met her ideal partner though. I assume that he danced like Nureyev, sang like an angel and practised tantric tea making, whilst rearing their two children in a beautiful home where birds ate from china plates and were punished for eating insects.
I achieved one date from my efforts and it went nowhere. The punchline to this blog is the fact that there are many users of online dating websites who meet their ideal partners, although it hasn't worked for me. The moral of this blog entry is simply be honest, be kind, be gentle and be watchful. There is someone for everyone but I offer no guarantees. If in the next year, you haven't met someone, don't come after me! I miss being in love or maybe, love has simply missed me? But I have met some really great people along the way. At the moment, that's more important.
Barry Watt - 30th December 2012