Why I Gave up Internet Dating – Part 2
It will be recalled that in Part 1 of this sad tale, we had reviewed the background and experience of our two protagonists, one from the UK and another from South Africa, but both with remarkably similar tales of marital woe.
In their pursuit of attempting to avoid lifelong membership of the Sad Old Tosssers (SOT) club they had both embarked on that very 21st century phenomena of internet dating. Undoubtedly technology has changed the way we connect and interact with others and dating is no exception, but for us baby boomers the path to happiness with wonder woman is an obstacle course strewn with many hidden pitfalls and potential minefields. No the least of which is the new language of this techno savvy generation, an example of which are the sometimes incomprehensible and strange acronyms, such as LOL and ILY being amongst the more common.
It will also be remembered that for the sake of ease, together with the imperative for hopefully what would be a better told story, I had changed the telling of this tale from 3rd to 1st person. Admittedly it was also due to my inherent laziness … it was just that much easier to write in the 1st person. So moving back to our tale of internet dating, we reconnect with our characters as they now embark on their new adventure …
It has to be said at the outset, that the decision to embark on what I had perhaps previously likened to the buying of a mail-order Russian bride through the internet was not taken lightly nor quickly. Much soul searching went into this, as I had previously thought, albeit surreptitiously, that all men who had, or were going down this road as sad old tossers. (SOT) So realising that it would be all too easy to get it all very wrong, I vowed to continue with my research in my pursuit of lasting happiness of my dream woman. So moving swiftly onwards …
As any full-bloodied male will know, there are literally hundreds of dating sites available on the World Wide Web today, all catering to very different demographics and interests. Whether you are seeking the religious, handicapped, over 50, 60 or 70, divorced, musical, gender specific, sporty – in fact any specific, including the bizarre and in some cases the extremely alternative and darker sides to life are catered for … you name it, there's one for you. It is indeed reassuring just how many other people, of both sexes are seeking a significant other, and so I felt in good company – almost as if I had joined an elite club of sorts.
Being somewhat of a technophobe I quickly discarded the new smart phone-based sites such as Tinder or Happn as being too impersonal. Communication was my forte, I wanted my personality to be able to shine through. So to be able to communicate properly, one-on-one with wonder woman was paramount. Wonder Woman was undoubtedly anxiously awaiting the release of my alluring and captivating profile, complete with my carefully selected handsome photos to be launched. Realising that I was indeed the one that she had been seeking all her life, she would then obviously and literally throw herself at my feet. I was not concerned that Wonder woman, together with the rest of the global female population would find my countenance anything less than stunningly handsome. I had after all been assured of this fact by many Thai girls, who to a women, invariably greeted me with the self esteem building, "Hello hansum man – I go with you". This was going to be a walk in the park … or so I thought!
It transpired that on-line dating at 60 plus was a tad harder and a trifle more complicated than I had first envisioned. Being a realist, I was not under the misapprehension that the perfect partner would appear as if by magic from the genies lamp, careful preparation was required. I was soon to realise that there was a whole new language to be mastered … and in this new, modern world, it's painfully easy to get it wrong. I naively imagined that every profile on these dating sites was totally honest and truthful, telling me everything I needed to know about everybody. However it seemed that there were quite a few things that were not so obvious or even mentioned. I would learn this once I started direct communication in the wooing the lucky lady of my dreams.
After I had spent what seemed to be many long days trawling the available sites, I chose a few of what I thought looked to be the better, more salubrious ones and duly signed up. I was careful to avoid the obviously salacious ones, offering a quick rub and a tug type service … I was after all, in this for the long haul and I was pretty sure that wonder woman did not inhabit these latter types of sites. I took great care and time in selecting suitable and recent photos, showcasing my reassuringly "hansum" features. I also crafted what I perceived was an alluring, captivating and interesting profile. I lied only a little in this my initial foray, about insignificant things like, age, height, weight, hair colour, looks, wealth etc, all of which I had put down to literary licence, or at worst bending the truth marginally.
On completion of said profile, I was exceedingly pleased with the result, even if it was perhaps a tad wordy. In fact all sites without exception told me that I had "exceeded my character allowance". This introduced me to the first of the strange anomalies of Internet dating – 'The character number police'. I experienced a feeling similar to when one receives an SMS from ones credit card provider, telling you that you have overspent your limit. However with much editing, I did manage to reduce the verbosity of my charms, together with my requirements of my dream woman, to adhere to the character number police's strict requirements. I was now all set to await the huge number of responses that I would undoubtedly receive. It was then with a trembling finger, hope in my heart and excitement in my loins that I pressed 'submit'. I was obviously a mere click away from at least five dates a week.
It would transpire that in our 60's we are perhaps a little naive about dating and love. In ones teenage and twenty something days when a relationship ended, you shrugged your shoulders, phoned a mate, went to the pub, got pissed to drown your sorrows. With the help of your mates you would plan your next conquest of the girl with the big tits down at the local bowling alley. In those days of traditional courtship, the initial approach and chat-up lines, leading hopefully to a follow-up phone call to ask her out, all required a degree of courage, planning and charm. It would seem in today's world of SMS's, WhatsApp, emails and Twitter, a more casual approach is required. For chaps of a certain age such as us, all of this is in the main, beyond the realms of our previous experience.
Imagine my surprise and disappointment when some few weeks later I had not received one single response worthy of consideration. Oh, there had been the odd woman who has considered me a 'Fan' and had me momentarily excited at the thought that somebody out there liked me sufficiently to consider me as a fan. Sadly this illusion was invariably short lived, when on examination of their profiles, they were either clinically obese, well over 70, obviously from the planet Zog, wearing clothes that were perhaps fashionable back in the 1950's, wanted children, regular smokers (both of these being a 'non-negotiable' in my search for dream woman) or were just plain ugly!
Being the gentleman that I am and having been brought up with the belief that any response should warrant at least an acknowledgement. So to one of those that fell into 'the plain ugly category', I responded to say that I was not yet a fully subscribed member, but would contact her immediately I had paid my subscription – a polite and gentle let-down I thought. For several days thereafter, she kept sending stalking notes demanding to know why I hadn't subscribed as yet, eventually becoming quite abusive when I did not reply. Thus was my somewhat disappointing introduction to internet dating …
Although I knew that I was indeed a 'catch' of note, I clearly I needed to review my strategy. What was currently happening fell into the 'height of stupidity' category as defined by Einstein, i.e. keep doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting a different result. Enjoying the challenge of a project, I decided that a strategy review, together with a possible rewrite and subsequent resubmission of my profile was perhaps necessary. I therefore approached it as I would any other work project. So back to the drawing board … and being the person that I am, the first step was obviously research, along with a SWOT analysis – something I had previously omitted, this was clearly a serious gap in my preparation work and for which I castigated myself for this blindingly obvious error. I needed to check out the profiles to see what other sad old tossers (SOT) and thus my direct competition, had considered was the winning profile in securing the woman of our collective dreams.
What follows are some real life examples of my research into what other SOT's perceived would be their undeniable and unique draw cards, en-route to securing enduring happiness with the woman of their dreams:
"I will complete this later on when I'm drunk" (In the light of what was to come, this was probably the most sensible of all!)
"Late 50's I find myself mature, have made lots of mistakes in my life, but still enjoy myself and want to hug and kiss you". I did initially ask myself where he'd gotten lost only to wake up to find that in his late 50's he was suddenly 'mature'. Considering his last remark, I'm pretty sure that his reference to 'mistakes' and the hugging and kissing, was due to his recent incarceration as a sexual offender – clearly the prison system is not serving its purpose as they let him loose on the world! I did give momentary thought to contacting his case officer, but then calmed myself as I had read somewhere that such offenders are tagged with an electronic tracking ankle bracelet.
A surprising number had absolutely no knowledge of themselves as they had relied on their friends to provide them with shining references, all of whom made similar comments as to their characters, " … he is handsome, kind, considerate, intelligent, witty, great sense of humour, engaging, good catch, and they all "loved to laugh…". One would have thought that with such blindingly obvious charms the perp himself would have known all these traits and been able to verbalise them.
Most of my competitors apparently enjoyed the simple things in life. Some enjoyed being outside – and inside. Many also liked to run, eat and drink (and in one case – even to breathe!) with some not taking themselves too seriously. Many also wanted to 'play'. I am giving the last 'play' reference the benefit of the doubt when I assume that they were referring to golf, tennis, squash, soccer or other sporting endeavours, rather than any other darker activities. I did however particularly enjoy the profile of the fellow who was evidently a good time keeper and cook, whilst being a 'Pussycat' … one can only hope not all at the same time. After all cat hairs in the soup, even if it was on time would not be overly romantic, pleasant or hygienic!
People with dyslexia should really make sure that they get somebody to check anything they write prior to publishing it on a public forum such as the internet. One chap wanted somebody to walk along the river bank with him, without any fear … and then boldly asked the world if he was crazy … all very badly laid out and spelt! I don't think there was any doubt about his last self-assessment. In the interests of public safety, I immediately reported his profile to the police as a potential serial killer, currently stalking river banks. I was to find that the prevalence of serial killers was an alarmingly common occurrence in this strange world of internet dating.
The Race Horse owner, whilst also posting photos, had for the convenience of his readers gone to the trouble of describing his facial features, highlighting that he did indeed have 2 ears and 1 mouth. (no mention of a nose in between though!) He also evidently did occasionally listen, but was more comfortable lecturing whilst being dominant with his latest 'project'. He was quite emphatic in what he did not want as his 'project'. No chain smoking, tattooed or body pierced, spray-on tangerine tan, women with children need apply. Nor was he keen on any obese, socialistic vegans with poor personal hygiene. I did feel that he was perhaps narrowing his field of potential candidates with these fairly stringent requirements. I was at least heartened to read that like myself, he had approached this whole thing in a properly structured project manner, even clearly elucidating it – a kindred spirit, albeit of the wrong gender! If nothing else I had to admire his detailed planning and desired outcomes for his project.
As a matter of interest, later and further embarked on my internet dating adventure, I was to find the perfect match for this chap – a Dominatrix! Her profile was I thought a little less than honest when it came to 'Occupation' as there was no mention of her day job in a fully equipped dungeon. But it did occur to me that with his undoubted skills in project planning, allied to her undoubted skills in sadomasochism, they might indeed make a worthy and interesting pair.
But it does go to prove my dear old Mom's belief, "that there is indeed somebody for everyone".
Jack from Essex was a real Jack Sparrow look-alike, even showing off his advanced seamanship skills in his photo, at the wheel of the Black Pearl in his Essex remake of Pirates of The Caribbean. Jack liked tattoos, drinking with the lads and laughing. I suspected that his search would come to a sticky end, particularly coming home to dream woman, with him pissed on rum after drinking with his crew and laughing at her, all with a pirate swagger as he threw his tri-cornered captains hat on the sofa with a, "Arrg me harties", or "withier me timbers – come let me ravage you me beauty" and other such endearing nautical expressions.
Mafioso Roberto from Milan, photographed in his very bright yellow high-visibility jacket, admitted that he couldn't write a novel, didn't drink, but enjoyed wine. Roberto was either experiencing writers block or was simply a very confused chap – maybe something to do with the wine?
Adventurer who was looking for a mate within a 10 mile radius of XXX XXX postcode, which just happened to be the same town in which he was born. Fortunately Indiana Jones reputation, together with his global search for The Holy Grail are safe. I did perhaps think that Scunthorpe and immediate environs might not perhaps be the best areas of search for what his demands were effectively a young Lara Croft or similar. Although given his lack of a wandering sprit, I did wonder that like the dog that chases the car, should he ever actually catch it, what would he do with Lara Croft?
I did enjoy Harry from Manchester who was, 'overweight, but not yet obese', (I do admire a chap that has a eye to the future) liked eating (as his photo attested) and had a bad heart. He was looking for somebody that "… didn't nag or go on a bit". My somewhat uncharitable thoughts were that he might perhaps do better to check out the local care homes, with mute nursing sisters.
One strong 'Gym' chap was used to getting his own way, then going on to list in alphabetical order all the books he had read since the age of 5. I was intrigued by him as I wondered how he had gotten past the character number police. With body building and a literary bent, it was no surprise to find that the love of his life was – himself! I cautioned myself that overdosing on steroids was dangerous to ones mental health.
California Dreamin' felt he was too serious and wanted help in building his house. His unique selling point was perhaps a little forthright, as he evidently, "held up his end well". I thought he might have been better served by advertising in Builders or Labourers Weekly.
I did feel that the guy that was looking for a woman to take care of him before he died, was probably on the wrong site. As a public service I emailed him suggesting that like Harry in Manchester, he would be better served by looking for a nursing or care home, nearby to his daughter who did occasionally visit him when she wasn't too busy. I suggested that he could do well to contact Harry, with a view to exploring the possibilities of nursing or care centre sharing?
I was taken by one fellow, who clearly had no friends as he bravely listed over 30 different activities that he enjoyed and loved, starting at A and ended at Z. It therefore came as no surprise when I read that he was looking for 'Bionic Woman'.
Most of my competitors had one previous careful owner, reasonable bodywork for age and full service histories. Although none admitted it, I suspected that the guarantees and service plans had sadly run out long ago. Understandably all were 'successful'. That is apart from the one poor chap whose profile photo showed him still with his ex wife and children. This was clearly a certified and leading member of The Sad Old Tosser's (SOT)club and that he should perhaps consider asking for a full refund from the dating site.
The shyness of many was also surprising as they answered many questions with, "Any" or "Ask me later". Their shyness was demonstrated by the lack of information about themselves, limiting their responses to, “If you want to know more, just ask". Given that internet dating sites are essentially romance sites with the stated objective of attracting two people together, these somewhat economical descriptors might not be overly successful. It occurred to me that perhaps 'Dream Woman' might enjoy knowing a little more about them other than age, height, location and whether they still had access to their children. Or maybe these guys felt that this lack of information would position them as a 'mysterious', or a 'dark waters run deep' type of characters.
There were an amazing number of septuagenarian Captain Mainwaring (ex British TV sitcom, Dads Army) lookalikes. They were mostly photographed in their wicker chairs, G & T in hand, being fanned by the local Punka Walla's, against a backdrop of the Taj Mahal. However I suspect that in reality the backdrop was not the actual Indian sub-continent, but merely the wall decorations of their local Indian restaurant, to which they dutifully and religiously retired every Wednesday evening (Senior citizens evening) for a reduced price Chicken Tikka Masala. However, to a man they were all still writing to The London Times bewailing the sad state of the Empire and why the globe was slowly becoming increasingly less pink.
No review would be complete without the inclusion of the following, which gives me cause for concern of the future of the human race. Whilst reading further dear reader, do please remember that these were from a dating, or romantic site, whose role I thought was to attract and bring males and females (or at least two lost souls, irrespective of gender) together.
One apparently excelled in, "… taking the piss out of people in funny accents". I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt as he was obviously looking for a ventriloquists dummy. Being the public spirited soul that I am, I emailed him suggesting he further his search in Stage Magazine.
A delusional wanna-be fellow had obviously been watching far too many James Bond movies, as he felt that he looked like an assassin. He was evidently very smitten and had particularly enjoyed, 'From Russia With Love', as he was looking for a Russian supermodel to play opposite him. At nearly 60, and as his photo indicated, a lack of front teeth, whilst I did think he might have better served his purpose by keeping his mouth shut, I did have to give him an 'A' for optimism. Sean Connerys place in the annuals of cinematic history are fortunately still assured.
Another was clearly taking no chances at losing out on the woman of his dreams as he included his CV, in full and boring detail. Seems his chosen career was in the Public Affairs arena, even attaching copies of his award certificates for verification. Clearly Public Affairs is a cushy number, allowing much time for reading of non-work related and extracurricular publications.
In the section detailing his requirements of dream woman, his response was, "I'm not sure". This didn't overly surprise me as obviously in his spare time at work, he had been reading too many women's magazines, because he too emphatically felt that, "he was worth it". This was clearly demonstrated in his photo, in which I observed, probably and hopefully misconstrued, showing him in a rather compromising position with his sheep. One can only hope that the sheep had similar sentiments of self worth. L'Oreal have indeed a lot to answer for!
In conclusion, I still have nightmares over one profile, who was clearly a Cheap Charlie as he had very obviously used his Prison Inmate photo as a top-line poster attraction. I did think that he might have been better advised to have photo-shopped out his prison number prior to posting same. He liked, and I quote, "roller coasters, eating (as his photo testified) beer, brandy, wine, rum, whisky, football and incongruously, 'bags of chips' … and wait for it – 'driving trains'. I suspect that Ronald Biggs of The Great Train Robbery fame had been his hero – maybe he had pin-up pictures of Ronald on the ceiling of his cell, as he lay awake at night fanaticising about charging through the night driving the Flying Scotsman, whilst blowing his whistle. I thought maybe disingenuously, that's a unique and good start to a relationship, at least to a woman who was keen to stoke his boiler!
I am also aware that this section of my tale is beginning to sound like a bad re-write of, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest, but apparently such is the route to marital happiness today. It would appear that if I wanted to meet a genuine wonder woman, I then had cause to take heed and at least some direction from the competition. My detailed research had now accumulated what was approaching a tome similar to War and Peace in size. Even if it was only knowing what to avoid in my own yet-to-be revised profile. Whatever my thoughts were about these poor, lonely misguided and obviously lost souls, or as I preferred to think of them Sad Old Tossers; was that I had indeed learned an amazing amount about modern lifestyles, sporting activities, love and sex … also that there were a hell of a lot of dangerously psychotic guys out there walking amongst us.
On completion of this stage of my research into my competition in the sad old tossers race, I was elated and clearly had no need to fear my lack of eligibility in the chase to securing my dream woman. It would appear that most male profiles had either been complied in jest, alternatively there was an extremely large percentage of the population in desperate need of professional medical/psychiatric help.
Always project orientated, and having commenced an in-depth SWOT analysis, with the partial completion of the 'O' for Opportunities and 'T' for Threats. It was now time to move onto the next stage of my research …
Having examined the male side of the coin, it was time to flip it over and research the female side. This would be an exciting and key aspect of the research element of my project – here I would be drilling down to the very nub of the matter and equipping myself with real and usable knowledge that would undoubtedly secure me my dream woman.
What were the women that inhabited this world of Internet Dating sites really like and what were they seeking in a partner? I could not make the mistake of being too assuming in my research and would have to be ever-mindful of the fact that women are indeed complicated and not always rationale creatures. This therefore was a phase of the research that would require in-depth and insightful study, with no cutting of corners.
To be continued in Part III…