Stickman Readers' Submissions September 5th, 2016

Why I Gave up Internet Dating – Part 5

Although I did enter into some email and Skype exchanges, it was some months before I finally managed to secure an assignation with one women who judging by her profile and apparently erudite writing, along with the accompanying photos seemed like the veritable 'ideal woman' – well at least for me.

Now whilst not perhaps not being in the first bloom or youth, I am well mannered, personable, speak several languages, don't dress like a hobo and overall consider myself a reasonably presented chap. Even though grey, I do still have a full head of hair – I had even admitted to having grey hair and had been at pains to display up-to-date photos on the dating site … even if I say so myself, do not cut a too offensive overall impression.

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On arrival at the agreed place and time, a small Italian restaurant convenient for us both, I looked around for my ideal woman from the dating site. The only woman vaguely resembling her was what could only be described as a Mrs. Hippo look-alike, wearing a floral tent like affair, that I'm sure had previously seen service as the covering on her sofa or front room curtains. However being the gentleman that I am, I approached and enquired if her name was in fact Flossie (names have been changed to protect the guilty) which she admitted to.

As can be imagined, I paled at the sight before me. My fear, or maybe the fact that all the blood and thus colour had drained from my face must have showed through, as she asked if I was feeling OK. The conversation was to say the least, stilted. As one who is rarely at a loss to make small talk, or indeed talk about anything to anybody, I was to put it mildly – dumbstruck and horrified at what I had gotten myself into. My mind was racing and thinking up ever more outlandish and farfetched ways to extricate myself from the situation. When she commended me for looking exactly like my photos on the dating site, she asked me if she looked the same as her site photos. Sadly I have to admit that at that point my gentlemanly manners did desert me and having been brought up to always tell the truth, I did mumble that she did not in fact look too much like the photos to which she was referring, but tempered it with a, "were they taken some time ago?" question. This was evidently the wrong thing to say, as what little joy there had previously been on the pinched and flabby facial expression of Mrs. Hippo, had now totally disappeared and was met with a stony silence.

Gathering my wits about me and trying to be the gentleman that I believe I am, I tried to make light of it and suggested that we try and make the most of our time together and order some food. In a similar spirit, which I think was very mature of her (all 65 plus years of her) she suggested I say something nice about her and immediately asked if I liked the 'dress' she was wearing. I resisted the urge to ask if she has only recently removed it from her front room sofa or windows, confining my response to, "It's very colourful". Thinking she was now on a roll with the complements, she pointedly (and in retrospect I think very unfairly) asked what I thought were her best features. After taking some time and due consideration, I responded with what I thought was a pleasant, "you don't sweat much for a fat woman of your age". I do have to say that I was a little surprised when she threw her drink over me and walked/waddled out of the restaurant.

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There were several other 'dates' during what in retrospect, I refer to as my 'lost period'.

Sadly none of these went well. Living as I do in some fairly obscure global locations, I am not perhaps ideally located to regularly visit the major centres of the world that dream woman inhabits, without lengthy and expensive flights.

Naively believing that all women on these dating sights have the same intentions, integrity and are indeed truthful, and are in fact available and keen to meet their 'ideal man'. I was in several instances wooed by women that after several email and Skype exchanges simply dropped me and never heard from them again. I incurred significant cost in travelling to diverse places such as London, Newcastle, Dubai, Nice, Edinburgh, Johannesburg and even Kuala Lumpur in one instance. Fortunately I did resist the urge to travel to the USA as was requested by one suitor.

Now whilst I did indeed enjoy these little sojourns, they were understandably costly. Not being a Cheap Charlie, I did not initially begrudge the costs involved, thinking and in retrospect – stupidly, that my search for 'dream woman's was indeed worth a degree of investment. Surely one would not travel to the other side of the globe, only to be told via text message that 'dream woman' did not think the two of you were in fact compatible.

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This I am sad to report happened several times. It was Einstein who said that the height of insanity is to keep doing the same thing, but expecting a different result. Sadly it took me several goes at setting up fruitless, no-show meetings before I realised what I was actually doing. In retrospect, I was obviously thinking through my little head, rather than my big head!

I didn’t learn. I still believed my system would pay off. So I did the same again and again. Once with a Swedish woman evidently living on Landisfaarn island. We emailed and Skyped for weeks and grew dangerously intimate. She kept putting off meeting but grew rapturous in long emails and conversations deep into the night. She said she was in love and couldn’t begin to think about work, she said. I fell hook, line and sinker. A period of romantic mania took hold of me. I was in an altered state, one that was all-consuming; each email, each text provided another rush of love sugar. Increasingly red flags flew and were ignored by my love-struck little head.

We eventually arranged to meet in one of the far northern counties of England, an itinerary was established, flights and hotels were booked. All was indeed set for the big day and hopefully for our future together … until the day of arrival! Immediately prior to my boarding the aircraft to fly to our assignation, she texted me saying that she didn't think it was a good idea for us to meet after all, as she had met another 'dream man' the previous evening.

A similar pattern emerged another three times before I realised people are prepared to lie to get out of a tight spot, also not all are as single as they would have us believe. One 'dream woman' didn’t want to meet me because she was afraid that she'd break my heart. I subsequently filed this under, "I'm dumping you so as to save you". Another cancelled our meeting at the last minute because her computer was broken and even had the audacity to get a friend to text me the message. It seems that many/most women behave this way because the medium facilitates and allows it. It was at this stage that I realised that we are all uncomfortable inside the internet dating machine, and that this discomfort manifests itself different ways, with few actually being serious.

There was the occasional meeting, but sadly little or no accompanying spark. The conversation during these meetings tended to revolve around Grandchildren, small (but evidently very cuddly) dogs named "poofie". One would have thought that after having been in protracted email and Skype contact where we shared our hopes and fears, wanting to reinvent our lives together, the actual dates would be walk in the park. But No, most meetings went from awkward to excruciating. It seems that in the electronic medium of email, text and Skype we had made the all too obvious mistake of being guilty of ventriloquism, speaking as puppet versions of ourselves. Sadly I did not meet one single women where there was any form of chemistry between us, nor did I agree to accompany the one women who was keen to have me as her escort to her sister's second wedding, some six months hence.

We had been seduced by romance, real romance – being courted and wooed electronically is difficult to say no to. It’s especially difficult when you are fast becoming a fully paid up member of the SOT club and ever-more desperate. It’s easy to fall for someone over email. Things can move way too fast, especially if you are both type A personalities. The difficulty of course is following through into life. The closer email conversation brought us, the more risk there was that a real encounter would be the beginning of a big letdown as indeed there were several. Sadly I became doubtful of my "hansum man" abilities and suffered a significant dent to my ever-declining self-esteem.

I do have to report though that I am now fully acquainted with the pros and cons of owning shares in wheelchair, mobility scooters and Zimmer frame companies. I am also somewhat of an expert on various frail care homes around the world. And I could write a dissertation on the many funeral polices that are offered by insurance companies. I recall having a particularly fascinating conversation with a woman from Cambridge as to what health care plan I would choose, along with whether I would think it fair to spend all my time with my children when I reached the incontinence stage of old age.

I realised that not everybody had to like me, nor did I have to like everybody else. I was after all an adult male (although at times this too was questionable!) – not a puppy. Although I would have loved to actually tell some of the horrors that I met how I actually felt about them. After all, being the honest Joe that I am and having reached the age that I have, I believe that I have earned the right not to be liked. I am even happy about the fact that some people don't like me – so what wrong with telling the truth to others?

The realities of this 21st century dating methodology, brings with it a whole new set of experiences, particularly those of us that are in what is somewhat condescendingly referred to as our 'autumn years'. Many of us in this category tend to not have a conventional career path, also theory says that we should in fact be better off financially, so we are not necessarily looking for somebody to give us a home. Given this, one would have thought that we would potentially have choices available to us.

The sad reality is of course, that many of us don't!

As Phet has pointed out on this forum on numerous occasions, once a chap passes 40+, he is cast upon the scrap heap of humanity in so many ways. Certainly from a romantic perspective, as few old hags would actually deign to cast their eye on a man in his later years. I became aware of the fact that few, if any would actually consider any form of meaningful relationship. Also as many of us have found, a divorce, maybe even a second one late in life can be financially ruinous, merely leaving us with funds sufficient to maybe purchase a 9 X 6 garden shed if we're lucky. Given our value system of the sixties or seventies, we also tend to invest emotionally far more quickly than our younger counterparts. So we need to protect ourselves from becoming hurt or damaged in so many different ways. It is therefore good to be a tad wary and find out the life details of our prospective 'dream woman' as early as possible.

Just as I was about to give up, I met her on one of the sites, you will be pleased to learn that I did eventually indeed find 'dream woman'. Having been forewarned by my unfortunate experience with Mrs. Hippo, I insisted on several video full body Skype conversations. Whilst my standards had by now declined to what in retrospect was normality for those of us of advancing years, I was pleased to observe that she was in fact reasonably attractive (again in retrospect that is maybe a relative statement) She was undoubtedly slim, petite, erudite, spoke several languages and even had a Masters degree. Plus as a huge bonus owned properties all around the world, as she was indeed a bona-fida multi-million heiress, with no children set to inherit … and importantly was all set to keep me in the style to which I should like to become accustomed. Even though during our daily Skype conversations, the red flags started to emerge, but once again I was thinking and viewing this wondrous and amazing find by my little head, who was regularly standing to attention, as if to say, "reporting for duty sir". In short I was also blinded by my good fortune. I did not take heed of the old adage of, "if she sounds too good to be true, then she probably is".

As mentioned earlier, living as I do in a fairly obscure part of the world, it is not always easy or convenient for me to travel to meet my 'ideal woman' in some of the better known and major centres of the globe. Therefore having had several previous experiences of making elaborate, costly and fruitless travel plans to meet them in their own home cities, I was keen not to incur considerable and fruitless expenses in this regard. Like the traditional English breakfast of egg and bacon, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed. I wanted her to demonstrate that commitment first hand, so prior to agreeing to meet in London – a neutral locale for us both, I suggested that she make the necessary accommodation arrangements – a request that she reality and perhaps surprisingly agreed to.

So the assignation was set … what could possible now go wrong?

Most relationships are about timing. I recently read an article, based on research as carried out by a Danish lifestyle brand, who polled some 2,000 Americans to better understand the time frames of modern day intimacy. It was also noted that these were the 'norms' and correct etiquette behaviours of 21st century dating. The article assured me that by following these few simple rules, one would end up with the perfect relationship.

In the 'old days', the old tried and tested rule of three, i.e. waiting until the third date before jumping into the sack with one another. However it seems that now, it is somewhat more long-winded, as most people are apparently more comfortable to wait until at least the fifth date, unless of course you are twenty something, when it would appear that anything goes!

My new found love, clearly was a non-traditionalist, as it took her all of 5 hours before she was straddling and riding me like a demented cowgirl and was even not adverse to the occasional BJ.

A further milestone is evidently at 5 months, when most are apparently comfortable to discuss their sexual like and dislikes. Once again after this first round of frenzied action my new found love was holding forth at great length as to her wants and desires … note, not her 'preferences', but rather what she was physically demanding of me! I do have to report to being somewhat fearful of my continued heath and physical abilities should this first sexual encounter become a daily regular.

The lifestyle article stated that whilst most of us want to experience pleasure, once we reach a certain age, we will rarely forgo it at the expense of comfort. I guess as we age, we tend to evolve more towards the 'comfort' side of the equation. Having previously already experienced one heart attack I was obviously keen to avoid another and was concerned that my heart would not withstand too many sessions such as this. Being a realist, I was of the opinion that this aging body of mine is perhaps not ideally suited to swinging off the chandeliers EVERY night! The 'Kitchen sex' scene from the movie The Postman Always Rings Twice bizarrely sprang to mind where she would be riding me in one of her global homes, just as the postmen did. I discounted this as it would be unhygienic and we would probably have to throw the bread board away afterwards.

And I had the temerity to pose the question, "what could possibly go wrong?" I am ashamed to admit that after this first round of physical activity I did check the details of my health care insurance.

But returning to the lifestyle article, further milestones were also indicated. For the purposes of illustrating just how psychotic my new found 'ideal woman' was, I have added her interpretation of these timelines.

1 to 2 months: Seems to be a major milestone in relationships, with many key factors occurring at this time. Previous partners is also included here: My new 'love' outlined her most recent partner in great detail over our very first lunch, together with all his faults – of which apparently there were many. Also on the partnership levels, she wanted to take me to meet up with all her friends on day 2!

It seemed that she was simultaneously corresponding with at least two other internet dating suitors, although I was assured that neither of them came close to me in terms of both physical or intellectual attributes. Although not perhaps totally surprised, subterfuge and deception was not quite what I had in mind. Like her Asian sisters, the few nights that we spent together, I would catch her crawling out of bed to check her phone or iPad for messages. Being a light sleeper that I am, any small movement will wake me – so I had an awareness, which predictably raised further red flags. No longer colour blind or being driven exclusively by my little head, I started tallying these up and started to question the sanity of continuing this relationship through to its logical (in her mind) conclusion. After day two my emotions were fully attuned and not perhaps at the same level of risk as they had been on day one. I was however disappointed as the red flags continued at an ever increasing rate.

Evidently it's OK to criticize style, outfit or hair and family (including my children – who she had never met, nor indeed was ever likely to!)

Also at the 2 month stage, it's OK to disclose that they have a criminal record. Now whilst she didn't actually admit to this, I suspect that she had only recently been released from a Psychiatric Care Home … and am convinced that she was omitting to take her medication, as on several occasions I noticed this mad, wild gleam in her eyes. This look would have done justice to the shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho' movie!

Now I was always under the impression that the thing one never speaks about in new polite company were, Religion, Sex and Politics. The former came up within the first couple of hours and I was horrified to find that she belonged to one of those new charismatic churches. Call me biased if you will, but regretfully I little time for such institutionalised religions or practices, hiding behind a mask of so-called religion. The sex I believe I have already covered and as for politics, she clearly had very firm and extreme views, which I was apprehensive to contradict.

References to being a couple and/or a 'Partner' evidently only occurs at the 3 month milestone … she managed this even before we met face-to-face!

Also at this 3 month level, it is de-rigor to discuss dress sense, this came up on day 2 of our time together, when she told me that she felt that she felt I could 'do more with myself' in terms of dress. Now I as previously mentioned, I think I do cut a reasonably well turned out figure of a man, so took this piece of advice with a pinch of salt, particularly as she herself did not display amazing dress style.

On the financial stakes, she criticised my choice of banks and the way I ran my business. I do so love people that 'know' so much more about other people's business than they do – particularly on a first meeting. Given that I have run a small, but reasonably successful international business for the past 30 odd years I did take umbrage. However fearing that she might force me back into bed, I simply passed it off with a "I'll take that under advisement". Month 5 is apparently the correct time to raise the issue of finances, this was raised during the above mentioned conversation on day 2!

Also at this 3 month timeframe: Although due to age and menopause, she would quite obviously been incapable of having children, she did have strong opinions of them. Namely that they were "horrid, noisy, and messy creatures", including evidently my own two grown-up daughters. This conversation was brought up on day 2 of our assignation. By now the red flags had multiplied to a the level of a bad B feature zombie movie, where the screen dissolves into a complete red bloodbath.

I do accept that most of us, both male and female all come with baggage, but was under the impression that this should emerge slowly and as the relationship develops and becomes more solid. But my experience with psycho women it all came tumbling out like an airport baggage carousel on steroids and in fast-forward mode.

The article did go into further detail, but for the sake of brevity and focus, I have avoided discussing any further faux pars. However, the following complete no-no's were mentioned:

Sharing of a toothbrush: I noticed that my battery driven toothbrush power supply was depleted to zero on day one and immediately removed said weapon from the bathroom. I also changed the brush head, as I had been told that sometimes women use this innocuous tool to stimulate themselves to self-satisfaction. Another absolute no-no is to pass gas in front of your partner. She managed this to great effect on day 3 … I do have to say that her performance in this area was stupendous!

In summary of this frightening experience, looking into my personal crystal ball, I realised that should I continue with this relationship, she would have me locked in a cage to use as a plaything and toy and as she saw fit. Admittedly the cage would indeed be gilded, but I was under no illusions that the padlock although gold, would be strong and permanent. Having worked in some localities that most would consider dangerous, I am not easily moved to fear, however this psycho was a controlling women of some advanced skill and would clearly not take no for an answer.

If normal courtship is a dance, then our was like a heart attack, or an epileptic seizure and finally made my escape on day 4 of this liaison. Having learned my lesson from the women that didn't want to break my heart, I immediately sent her one of those 'Dear John' emails, indicated that it wasn't her, it was me. Fearing retribution, I also changed my email address and phone numbers and blocked her on Skype. I also cautioned my children to be careful of potential on-line stalking via their Face book account, which they should probably close just to be on the safe side.

So now as a fully paid up member of the SOT club I would invite applications from others to come and join us in this the twilight years of our lives. We may not have a dream woman to come home to, but by god we don't have anywhere near the problems, hassles or expenses as those whose initial thoughts of dream woman were just a fleeting and passing memory.

Internet dating is supposedly about happiness, but the sad reality is that it's a machine, one that can gobble you up, break your bones and spit out the pieces the other side. It’s a system that can and does facilitate very bad behaviour for those who want to behave badly. I eventually came to realise this and decided I might as well stay home with the dog, read books, drink myself into oblivion and twiddle my toes in contented singledom. At least that way I do maintain degree of self esteem, integrity, financial freedom and , sanity.

What have I learned from all this? Looking back at the exchanges and meetings, I'm amazed and embarrassed at some of the things that I said and did. My face blushes with regret at the thought! As a male of advancing years, when it comes to female companionship, we need to normalise our own expectations and ambitions. For the brief period that I was seduced by internet dating I was like the proverbial dog chasing the car – in retrospect what the hell was I going to do if I did albeit unlikely, catch it?

From the female perspective, they have absolutely no idea what they want, but by god they want it now and only on their own deluded terms. Also most are shallow and psychotic … internet dating should come with a public health and safety warning!

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