Playdates

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, a widow in her early forties. She said she’d tried online dating but found it a complete sewer, and the men either looked as though they ought to be on Crimewatch, or they looked half-normal but sent her photos of their dicks. She said the biggest problem was she had no idea who the people were she was chatting to, and when she met one or two of them they turned out to be completely different.

I could sympathise. I’ve met at least two women online who for the first month or so offered up Version 1: pleasant, mature, intelligent, and serious about a relationship. Suddenly Version 1 was replaced with Version 2: unpleasant, immature, dumb, and showing no sign they were even capable of having a proper relationship. I was left wondering what the hell happened to Version 1.

When I was in Florida having my recent bout of troubles, my sister made a good point. She said when she was single she wanted to see potential partners in the context of their everyday lives, i.e. with friends, family, and colleagues. For instance, if a man says he’s divorced, does he say the same thing in front of his friends? Then you’ll see who they really are. The problem with online dating is it allows people to play-act, detached from the realities of their everyday life (which is a problem with the internet and social media in general). This doesn’t mean everyone on there is play-acting, but if they are it’s hard to figure out.

It also means the medium attracts those who play-act in real life, and there are reasons people do this. For example, if a foreign woman in her twenties marries a westerner in his forties for the chance of a nice life abroad, and then later becomes self-sufficient, I can imagine the knowledge that she sold her body for a passport weighs heavily upon her. In ten or fifteen years she might have learned English, earned a degree, and got a half-decent job but she won’t ever be able to forget how all this was made possible – especially when she meets other women who didn’t take that shortcut. I can imagine it’s a bit like an athlete who’s used steroids or someone who cheated on an exam: they’ll be living with that decision their whole lives. So they make up a story: I did it for love, despite knowing him for a week and only being able to communicate using an electronic translator. He was very handsome and didn’t look his age, only please don’t make that face when I show you the photos. He was very charming, at least up until the wedding day. I never wanted to leave my country, but somehow my profile ended up on a dating site aimed at foreigners. I’ve heard them all.

If you tell the lie often enough you’ll start to believe it, and eventually you’ll forget it was ever a lie. The problem is, you’ll then use this technique to deal with all the inconvenient facts of your life and before you know it your default setting is to play-act. And if that’s who you are, then online dating sites hold an obvious attraction. You can enjoy being the person you pretend to be until you get found out, then you block the person and move on to the next. My guess is the online dating sites are absolutely chock-full of people like this, both men and women, who don’t know truth from fiction, who the hell they really are, or what they want. I suspect a lot of these also don’t have a whole lot of friends in real life, and if they do they keep their online partners well away from them.

Ultimately, only time will tell you who someone really is. That might take months or years, but the chancers on the internet seem to get found out in a matter of weeks, generating an enormous churn (which is good for the site owners). Given online dating is the way most people meet each other these days, it makes the whole process of finding someone absolutely exhausting. I expect people are already starting to regret the MeToo movement banned people chatting each other up at work. They might even regret that they stopped going to church.

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21 thoughts on “Playdates

  1. What must always be remembered is that the nature of the dating scene, be it the world of Jane Austen, or the world of Tinder, is entirely created by the actions of the female half of the population. The male half just responds to the incentives given. Women control access to sex, and the behaviour they demand in return for it will determine how men behave. If men are behaving ‘badly’ its because women are rewarding bad behaviour. If being a mild mannered and rather dull accountant who loves his mum and collects stamps had the likes of Rachel Riley banging on your door desperate for a date, guess what men would be trying to become?

  2. +1 to Jim

    Also there is the general perverse financial incentive for the dating sites themselves given most run monthly subscription models. If everyone found another person successfully and stayed with them from these sites, how much money do you think these sites would make?

    As your sister says, to really get to know someone you really have to see them “in their own environment” i.e. with their friends, family, flatmates etc. This is possible when you meet in real life (at a party, through mutual friends, at school, uni, work etc.) and you can understand someone prior to committing. Online dating you have to commit before this (you don’t get introduced to anyone they know until you are quite a lot of dates in…) making this essential check happen very late in the process, wasting a lot of time for everyone and generally being disheartening.

    I tried online dating on and off for ~7 years. In that time the two relationships I started (one for 2 years, the current one happily ongoing) were with people I met in real life, rather than online. Says a lot…

  3. Seems like there is a business opportunity there for an evolved form of the old-fashioned marriage broker — someone who can build up lists of clients, get to know them properly, and act as a matchmaker.

    Obviously, this will not be easy — nor cheap. It will need some really innovative thinking about how to do it economically in today’s world, since it would probably need more face-to-face versus computer-to-computer interactions. But it might be a great opportunity for a newly-minted MBA to build a new profitable, and socially useful, business. Just saying …

  4. I’ve had good experiences online. I met genuine women. Remembering that all women have mad cow disease and all men have swine fever is a good place to start. I insist on going face to face ASAP. In my age group, most profile pics are her at least twenty years ago. Asking for F2F either makes them honest very quickly, or they vanish. My general dating position since my teens is that if you want me, you’re going to have to try a lot harder than that. That thins them out too. Not that I consider myself more than a Five. Women have strange tastes and if I’d limited myself to women I thought were physically on a par with me, I’d have missed out badly.

    So, yeah, online dating has worked well for me and in the last ten years I’ve met really good women. If we didn’t work out long term, well I have a very low threshold for boredom and the inevitable shit that is part of relationships.

    I believe that church is also a great place to meet women.

  5. Lots of people of both sexes use on-line dating as a means to finding the right, or at least an acceptable, partner. But my guess his that lots of them get addicted to the process, and my further guess is that women are more prone to this than men. It mirrors the attitudes to shopping (in fact, it actually is a form of high-stakes shopping) where men treat it as a means to get stuff and women relish the process.

    The dating and mate-selection process is incredibly intense, and people probably go to great lengths to create a dull echo of their adolescent anxieties and triumphs. “Does he like me? Will he want to see me again? Can I get him to say he loves me?”.

    Those women who suddenly lose interest, disappear, or reveal the underlying insanity or disagreeableness are probably realising that their game with you has yielded enough thrills, and they need to drop you (or get you to drop them) before they move on to the next promising stranger.

  6. Lots of people of both sexes use on-line dating as a means to finding the right, or at least an acceptable, partner. But my guess his that lots of them get addicted to the process, and my further guess is that women are more prone to this than men.

    I also think what happens is they go in with good intentions, but have unresolved issues which are keeping them single. After a series of failures they don’t look at themselves but assume the fault lay in the people they met, and all they need to do is meet the right one. Hence, the woman who’d dated 58 men in two years.

  7. I’ve had good experiences online. I met genuine women.

    So have I, if I’m honest. Some platforms are definitely better than others, with Tinder being the absolute worst.

  8. Seems like there is a business opportunity there for an evolved form of the old-fashioned marriage broker — someone who can build up lists of clients, get to know them properly, and act as a matchmaker.

    I think there’s a few that try that. EHarmony might be one of them, I’m not sure.

  9. My experience of online dating might be out of date considering I used it 12 years ago, but it was a very happy experience for me. I found and met the woman I am now married to and could not be happier

    Having said which, I saw online all the types you describe. Including the surprising tendency of large numbers of women to offer you their body pretty much immediately. However, it is quite easy to avoid them if you just do a good filtering job on their self written descriptions; people really give themselves away there. That, of course, would not apply to tinder, which doesn’t pretend to be anything else other than a meat market .

  10. Just wondering why this topic causes Skynet to bring up adverts for Lesbian dating sites?

  11. @Gavin
    I’m getting offers to find Twoo Wuv with Arab women… count yourself lucky!

  12. One of the biggest changes in western society in the last hundred years or so is the idea of ‘dating’ as a form of recreation. I’s simply too early to see what the outcome of this will be, but I suspect we are following the Japanese to a world full of isolated people.

    Real connections between people seem to be getting rarer.

  13. Gavin Longmuir
    “Seems like there is a business opportunity there for an evolved form of the old-fashioned marriage broker — someone who can build up lists of clients, get to know them properly, and act as a matchmaker.”

    The problem is that your clientele would almost entirely be well off, post-wall women with inflated expectations. You would be better off selling them yoga retreats to exotic locations.

  14. One of the biggest changes in western society in the last hundred years or so is the idea of ‘dating’ as a form of recreation.

    Yup. That woman I met in Florida seemed to treat dating as a hobby rather than as an exercise in finding a partner with whom to build a relationship.

    Real connections between people seem to be getting rarer.

    That too. Real connections are built over time, and fewer people have the patience or the capacity to build them.

  15. The problem is that your clientele would almost entirely be well off, post-wall women with inflated expectations. You would be better off selling them yoga retreats to exotic locations.

    Indeed. The bigger problem is that the post-wall women with the resources to afford “tailored face-to-face introductions” are also more delusional than most post-wall women, but with the money to back up their delusions with lawyers.

    A woman is suing an ‘exclusive’ dating agency for damages after she failed to find a rich husband to have a child with.

    Tereza Burki, 46, went to Seventy Thirty Ltd in a hunt for ‘possibly the man of my dreams, the father of my child’, she told The High Court. But the divorced mum-of-three claims she was let down by the agency, which she says enticed her with extravagant marketing claims about how many ‘wealthy, eligible, available men’ it had on its books.

    The management consultant is now suing the agency for return of the £12,600 membership fee she paid and additional damages for ‘distress, upset, disappointment and frustration.

    The Knightsbridge-based agency – which claims on its website to be the ‘ultimate network of influential and exceptional single people’ – is is counter-suing for £75,000, claiming libel over scathing reviews she published online.

    Woman sues dating agency after she fails to find a rich husband [LINK]

    Take a look at the picture though. She’s 46 with a face like thunder and probably an attitude to match, yet seeks a wealthy husband to have children with…at 46. The denial of reality is breathtaking.

    Any guy (let alone one with money) would run a mile.

  16. I was married well before t’ínternet was invented, so have zero experience with the online dating phenomenon. But I would have thought it obvious that the initial contact being with a stranger can quickly be sussed out as being worthwhile of progressing further or not during the initial face to face meeting, not sure If I am missing something but is that not the obvious next step?

    I had an indirect online dating experience of sorts recently when I was out around town with an old Taffy mate of mine that I hadn’t seen for a while. We used to knock around when we were both single and played the game like you do. One marriage and a couple of serious long-term girlfriends later, the Taff still plays the scene as a kind of oldest swinger in town.

    He to me is like those ladies that are hard wired to remain single, he even admits to this. So, I mentioned that I wouldn’t mind going to an open top rooftop bar that I had heard about, we did, it was neat, and jam packed. So, we are standing at the bar getting jostled and unable to hear anything and he starts chatting to a young bird that had been on a online date and ditched her companion because he was a creep. Turns out that old mate, knew the same anthropologist as she did and he proceeds to chat her up, I don’t think it will go anywhere although they exchanged numbers. So, you have a failed on-line young female dater meets Dads Army type, what a strange world we live in.

  17. @Jonathan & Gavin,

    My browser detection is even smarter and checks out previous posts and is targeting single hikers, no bullshit!

    ……………………………………………..

    Fitness Singles® is the world’s largest online dating site dedicated to people into climbing or anyone living an active lifestyle. Whether you’re looking for a climbing date or just a climbing partner, Fitness Singles is the group you should join.

  18. What I’ve done with a couple of online dates is, after meeting a couple of times, I tell them what online forums I hang around in, so they can see me in an equivalent of normal socialising with friends, in a variety of environments, techy computing, road engineering, politics, economics. It’s difficult to keep a consistant fake “face” across such a spread of areas. It’s scared off two so far, but one is still happy to meet up every couple of months because/despite of who I am.
    However, women seem to have a much smaller spread of online presence, it all seems to be Facebook and/or MumsNet stuff.
    Also, being in my 50s, I decided that teenage messing about and mind-reading is too much a waste of time. After a couple of meetings, lay your cards on the table: I want X, Y, Z and don’t want A,B,C; what do you want?

  19. John: And that Tereza Burki has already got three children. What on earth is she saying to those existing children “I want a man to give me a child”?

  20. That widow’s problem is: Most of the men she would accept were married by 30 and still are. Younger women have a better chance than she does with those who aren’t.

  21. Most of the men she would accept were married by 30 and still are.

    Yup, and her late husband was a rather impressive chap. His boots will be hard to fill indeed.

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