Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Cycle of False Hope - The Horrors of Online Dating Part 2

Welcome back to DraMattics the blog you’ll be wishing was stopped halfway through by James Corden. If you read yesterday’s entry you know that we’re halfway through a two-part special on the pitfalls of online dating. With your profile finally constructed it’s now time to meet that special someone online. Slightly nervous, you log online and start the search...

Initially you start browsing through the profiles carefully reading all the text, as you know that compatibility and shared interests are far more important than looks. Within 15 minutes you just start flicking through the photos and dismissing people based on the slightest blemishes. Eventually after a lot of searching, you find the most beautiful person you’ve ever seen, there’s not a flaw in any of their photos, they are the one. You even read their profile and convince yourself you’re a perfect match “They like watching television, going to the cinema and socialising as well, what are the chances?”. So you go to write them the perfect message, the message that’s going to get them as excited about you as you are already about them. Problem is it turns out that just because you’re not face to face with them, doesn’t stop you being awkward, which makes writing an opening message rather tricky. You start with “Hi”, after hours of thinking of something witty to say your message still reads “Hi”, eventually you send a message reading “Hi, how are you?”.

The minutes pass, they’ve not replied, why not? Your opening message was so good. Finally an e-mail pops up, someone has messaged you – it must be them, you log on with excitement. What can they have possibly said? You open up your messages, it’s not from them, it’s from someone 20 years older than you with a face that looks like it’s been attacked by a cheese grater. Additionally they have a bizarre penchant for typing their messags in capital letters SO IT LOOKS LIKE THEY’RE SHOUTING AT YOU LIKE A PSYCHO. Disappointed you reply to the sender, “Sorry you seem like a nice person, but you really aren’t what I am looking for. Thanks”. And then the questioning begins, they ask you “why aren’t I what you are looking for?” no matter how polite you try to be in fobbing them off they continue to reply to you. It as if their emotional self-worth has a death wish that it’s desperately trying to fulfil and won’t be sated until they hear the words “Your face looks like a scrotum that’s been in a hot bath too long”. Finally they stop e-mailing you, you can’t be sure they haven’t taken their own life but by this point you don’t care, just desperate stop the never-ending torrential barrage of questioning. It represents the most pointless conversation you’ve ever been in, since you last got stopped in the street by a charity worker, knowing full well that as soon as they pause to take breath in their opening spiel you’re going to say “no”. You soon learn it’s better to ignore those who message who you clearly want nothing to do with.

It then dawns on you, that maybe the reason your true love hasn’t replied is that they, didn’t get your message – that’s the only logical answer left clearly. You best send them a new message, however if you thought the first message was awkward, you soon realise that trying to explain in words that “you’re not sure if they got the first message” only serves to make you appear desperate. You send the message, and wait. Suddenly a new message pings in your inbox, you open it excited, you were right they didn’t get the first message. Turns out the message is an automated message from the site, telling you about an exciting new feature, where you answer a series of mind-numbing questions in attempt to match your pathetically vague answers to other people’s pathetically vague answers on the site.

Finally you accept that the true love, isn’t going to reply. In fact you don’t actually know if they want to reply but are unable to. The clever thing about the strategy that allows you to join a dating website without paying is that there can be a number of profiles online at any one time, of people who haven’t paid up. So you can send these people messages (the site wants this, to encourage those people to join to read your messages), but you will never know if you were ignored because of your face or because they weren’t prepared to part with their cash. You decide to move on, knowing the reply rate of dating messages is about the same as letters to Santa Claus, or CVs sent in Wolverhampton, you send a number of messages to different people. Lowering the standards of your potential suitor as you go. Again you wait for replies. Nothing.

Eventually you get a reply, to your dismay, it’s from one of the least worst choice options you e-mailed, someone you messaged on a particularly lonely night home alone when your standards were so low you’d have considered dating a jar of Bovril. Now in the cold light of day, you realise that their hobbies include murdering babies, strangling squirrels and watching Loose Woman and their picture makes them look like a less attractive version of a Crimewatch photo fit. You feel awkward now you have to fob them off, and you initiated first contact. You try hinting in your e-mails that you have socially unacceptable hobbies, like developing your own deadly strains of body odour and kleptomania – sadly they find this endearing. Eventually the only option is to tell them you’re dead, or convince them that you’re seeing someone else. All the more difficult a lie to spin when you’re still regularly logging onto the dating site, as most sites have an annoying feature that lists when you last logged on, on your profile. After this loop completes itself a number of times you decide to give up, online dating clearly isn’t for you. Your membership is going to expire today, there’s no point in wasting any money and renewing it. Oh well there’s more to life than being happy you reason.

One hour after your subscription expires, a new message pops in, you can’t read it but you check the sender. It’s your true love, they’ve finally replied. But now you can’t read the message, your subscription has expired. Hurriedly you reach for your debit card, eager to tap in the 16-digit card number, just so you can read the marriage proposal you’ve clearly received. You go for the worst value for money option, the one-month subscription, you won’t need a longer subscription – this is the love of your life after all. With your payment approved you hurriedly open their message, your heart is racing with excitement as you read the words “Sorry you seem like a nice person, but you really aren’t what I am looking for. Thanks”. Your world collapses in on itself, you experience the kind of disappointment usually reserved solely for opening Christmas Crackers and discovering the “prize” was a novelty one-piece jigsaw. Convinced there must have been some terrible mistake you reply “why aren’t I what you are looking for?”. A number of messages are exchanged before they block your profile and report you to the site administrator.

Still your disappointment has been slightly tempered, one of the other people you messaged a few weeks back has replied. You’ve agreed to meet up for a meal, that should be nice. It’s only a few days until your date and you keep looking back at their profile. You realise actually you’ve got a lot in common, they’re pretty attractive and you’re sure something special is going to happen between the two of you. Finally it’s the day of the date, you’ve made a supreme effort, much to the mocking of friends and colleagues, you’re wearing your best clothes, your smart shoes and you’ve spent ages getting your hair to look just perfect. What could possibly go wrong?

You turn up at the pre-arranged meeting point, eager to find your date you look around, there’s lots of attractive looking people but you can’t see the person shown in the pictures you’d been looking at. Finally you spot them amongst the crowd, except it’s not them as you expected, it’s a hideous cartoon parody of the pictures you’ve seen on their profile. You approach them, not sure whether you should make contact or run, but too late they’ve spotted you, and you realise the awful truth it is them. In that three seconds the extent of their “being economical with the truth” unravels as you realise that the photos they uploaded of themselves were taken at least seven years ago, before they put on six stone, before they developed male pattern baldness (even if they aren’t male), before they decided to have a tattoo across their face and before they suffered a terribly disfiguring car crash. Additionally their description of age and build are so wildly unbelievable that even Hans Christian Anderson wouldn’t have attempted to write such fanciful bulls**t.

Reluctantly you proceed to dinner with them, cursing yourself for not suggesting any other dating activity that would have been shorter such as a pint, a coffee or even a group suicide pact. As you begin dinner they suggest doing the full starter, main course, dessert option, whereas you’d hope you could have taken one bite out of your meal said your full and then left. As the conversation continues you realise that you have nothing in common, the only thing they can talk about is how exciting Lady Gaga’s latest video is, which you haven’t seen. They find it incredulous that you haven’t seen it, they’d be less shocked if you told them that you were a Mermaid and had to return to the ocean in the next five minutes before you dehydrate and die. The only other thing they can talk to you about is The Only Way is Essex, you realise that you are essentially on a date with a copy of Heat Magazine, except it’s costing you a lot more than one pound fifty and doesn’t have the one redeeming feature that you can wipe you’re a**e with it if you’ve run out of loo roll.

Worse still they haven’t asked a single question about you, instead they’ve spent the last hour babbling along about their pointless life, a life so disinteresting you want to rip your own windpipe out and fashion into a crude trombone just to give yourself something to relieve the boredom. When they do finally let you speak, no matter what you say their only response is to laugh inanely, like a hyena on nitrous oxide. Regardless of whether you utter a simple reply to what they’ve said, tell a joke, say a statement of fact, or even commenting that you have megalomaniacal tendencies and one day hope to destroy the world, all they can do is reply with that inane pathetic laugh. Despite all your best efforts to wrap up the meal as quickly as possible you can’t they wait out for dessert, don’t get any of your hints about having to leave soon or be up early the next day. Not only that but you’ve got food down your best clothes, they’re ruined, like your life. Finally the meal comes to the end; they have forgotten their credit card, so you end up paying. They then suggest going for a drink afterwards, inexplicably you lose your mind and say “yes”, what the hell were you thinking?

Five hours later, five hours of utter torture with someone you wouldn’t even want to spend ten seconds in a lift with, let alone a tedious evening of pathetic prattle about topics so low brow even ITV2 would turn its nose up at them you crack. You inform that you have to go and that you’ve had an awful night. They simple inanely laugh at you. As you leave you stupidly give the automatic response “See you soon” cursing your own idiocy. They then move in for a goodbye kiss, which you spot and try and manoeuvre yourself to force it into a goodbye hug, but you end up knocking a table over and embarrassing yourself. Still you’ve left, you’ve escaped the hell.

There are four potential outcomes of a first date, providing you didn’t kill either them or yourself during the initial encounter.

  1. You both like each other – this is so unlikely to have happened that we won’t bother discussing any further.
  2. You both hate each other – given the remoteness of option 1, this is the best option you can hope for.
  3. You like them and they don’t like you – you send them a nice text saying you’d like to meet again, they politely tell you how awful it was and explain they never wish to see you again. You cry lots.
  4. They like you and you don’t like them – this is the worst option, as then you have to send the awkward message saying you don’t want to meet. At least in option 3 you had the comfort of being bitter, now you have to be the ba****d, and there’s no comfort in that.

Clearly your date ends in option 4, but you speak to some friends about it, and they convince you it’s worth giving this person another try. After all maybe a spark will grow. Reluctantly you agree. The above scenario plays out again, except you feel even more guilty sending the text in Option 4 as now you’ve strung them along for two dates. At the end of it all, you’re poorer, bitterer and just as single. You continue trawling the website looking for more dates, but they all end as above, before long you’ve been on the website for six months, and all the profiles that pop up are just the same faces as before. All of you locked into a cycle of loneliness, depression, and false hope fuelled by the dating website’s empty promises.

And that’s how internet dating works, happy hunting!