What I’ve learnt about internet dating and how I’d do it differently

I’ve recently had reason to spend a bit of time on internet dating site, http://www.mysinglefriend.com, and it has been rather enlightening. (Fear ye not, all is well in the Taylor marriage. I’ve just been looking at and recommending girls for a friend. No, really.)

I’m not what you’d call an expert on dating. I’ve been with my husband for nearly ten years, having been friends beforehand, and was in an 18 month relationship immediately (ahem) before that. I’ve only been asked on one date (during sixth form) and I stood him up because my friend Gem phoned whilst I was on the bus to Southampton to meet my date and invited me to join her at Jumpin’ Jaks which, in my book back then, inexplicably and rather embarrassingly took precedence. All of this may explain why nobody else has ever asked me on a date.

Not being an expect, I’ve learnt rather a lot. Ladies, take note… (I should clarify that I’m not picking on girls. I just haven’t looked at any male profiles – again, no, really – so can’t comment on them.)

  1. Internet dating is quite stressful and also a little bit soul destroying. There are a lot of girls out there. Some might be awesome. Some might not be awesome. All I know – and this may be difficult for some male readers to believe – is that I have a threshold when it comes to looking a photos of girls and this week, I’ve gone well beyond that threshold. On a more serious note, this has put a new perspective on my friend’s relationship with internet dating. I know he’s found it tough at times, that it’s difficult to see the wood for the trees and that there’s an unwritten etiquette that can result in all kinds of anxieties. I also know that his current open-minded attitude towards it – to take a chance and see how it goes – is the best approach and that, to be honest, more of the girls on MSF could take a leaf out of his book.
  2. It’s really, really hard to get the photo right. I can relate to this one. What single photo makes you look: a) hot, b) the kind of girl a guy would take home to his mum, c) serious/intelligent, ┬ád) fun/spontaneous, e) etc. on the internet? What I’ve learnt from MSF is that most girls go for a), with a few opting for d). I can’t blame them for that but my feedback would be that – without exception – I have found the nicest, most appealing photos of girls in their secondary gallery. These are usually photos of the girl taken during the daytime, wearing a little makeup and ALWAYS smiling. Not pouting, MySpace style. Or doing a wacky face. Smiling. There are plenty of very, very pretty ladies on MSF but you could be easily led to think there aren’t.
  3. Against Her Better Judgement makes this point far more succinctly than I, but some users and/or their friends appear to put very little effort in to their profiles and you kind of wonder whether they really want to stand out from the crowd. I came across very few profiles that don’t describe the lady in question as loyal, generous, gorgeous, funny, intelligent, etc. and little else. These are all lovely qualities that I guess you’d hope to find in a girlfriend but they’re so overused, they tell you very little about what makes a person tick. The interesting profiles are those that are creative (although not with the truth, obviously).
  4. The vast majority of girls appear to be teachers, doctors or solicitors who have just got back from Cambodia. I have no idea what the significance of this is but it’s a strange thing.