It is a truth universally acknowledged that these days every second couple you meet is virtually guaranteed to have met online. Because online dating is to our generation what the parish dance hall was to our grannies, circa nineteen fifty. Except a helluva lot cheaper and you don’t have to go to the bother of washing your hair for it.
And yet for years I stubbornly resisted. Dismissed it. stayed resolutely single and when well-intentioned pals would gently nag and ask, ‘Why don’t you ever try online dating?”
But then something shifted in me. I was busy writing A VERY ACCIDENTAL LOVE STORY and spend a disproportionate amount of time mulling about finding love in the most unexpected places, which is the central theme of the book. And then out of the blue, my friend Lisa said to me asked me exactly what kind of an accidental love story I had in mind for myself? ‘Or are you still harbouring onto some Jane Austen-esque quaint notion that fate will intervene and you’ll get swept off your feet by a handsome stranger?’ Can’t remember what I replied, but it was doubtless along the lines of ‘feck off with yourself and leave me alone!’ but my pal is made of sterner stuff than that and persisted. ‘Cause if that were going to happen, sure it would have by now?’ how else can you meet fellas from the comfort of your own home, with no make-up on and three-day-old-manky hair?”
So off to my computer I go, if for no other reason than to wipe the self-satisfied smile of Lisa’s face just because she happens to be out-dating me. Yet again.
Right then, there’s something I should probably explain. Up till this, my attitude to online dating can safely be summarised thus; fine if you want to meet weirdos, saddos, whackos or married men, but not if you just wanted to meet someone…..normal. Grand if you happen to like men with profiles that read, ‘sixty-something farmer, almost all my own teeth, seeks nubile young lass for fun times. Must have own chicken.’ Then there’s the blatant, unbelievably outrageous, big, fat, hairy lies people tell. Whoppers. Like when someone describes themselves as ‘fun’, it means ‘annoying. Just as ‘enjoys a drink,’ means ‘would suck the alcohol from a deodorant bottle.’
And don’t even get me started on the names of some of the websites; honest to God, you’d roar laughing. I actually spotted one, ‘for the busy professional,’ with a web address www.nevertoolatetomate.com Their advertising slogan is what really caught my eye; it actually says, ‘We Delete Members Unfit To Date.’
Guerrilla dating, clearly, is the new way forward.
So, after much trawling when I was supposed to be working (I know, I know,) I stumbled on a site that seemed relatively normal-ish, joined up and had a sneak peek at what was on offer. Ok, first, the pitfalls. Yes, there are married men online, as brazenly open about it as bedamned, with user names like areyouupforit and boredmarriedseeksfun. (By the way, I am NOT making that last one up, I only wish I was.)
Then there’s the whole dilemma of whether or not to post a photo, although I noticed a helluva lot of cheating going on, with people putting up pics taken from such a distance, you’d nearly need a neutron microscope to discern any kind of facial features. So I chickened out, didn’t bother, then wavered, realised that this is the equivalent of walking into a packed pub on a Friday night with a bag over my head, then found an ancient photo of me that’s soft focus-y enough to blur the worst of the wrinkles and, one gulp of wine later, posted the shagging thing.
And waited. And waited. Twenty four hours later, there were five replies, which I thought was reasonably respectable for my first go. Until I read what four of them were suggesting we do on a possible first date, that is. Well, I could barely get my finger to the delete button quick enough. (And shame on you, Mr. Ever-done-it-in-the-back-of-an-Audi.)
But one guy seemed, well, quite nice, really. Scottish (the accent, yummm,) and a pilot (the uniform, double yummmmm.) Ok, so he could be telling pork pies about himself, but them, I’m not above the odd white lie myself. (So maybe I’m not exactly thirty nine….ahem.) We’ve been exchanging emails, texts, calls and are now facing into the dreaded first date. Coffee in the lovely, safe afternoon, so if we don’t get on, it’s perfectly acceptable to turn and run for the hills after half an hour. Because this couldn’t possibly work out.
I mean, no one gets lucky with online dating their first time.
Do they?A Very Accidental Love Story is out now from Avon!