If you like Piña Coladas, and getting caught in the rain…
After six months of online dating, I’ve learned a few things. Unfortunately, they don’t include how to find a man…
1. Arm yourself
You need a thick skin to survive in this virtual world. Think of it as a video game. It takes time to suss out your fellow players. Some of them will be on your side. Others will bring you down. Keep your wits about you, and choose your weapons wisely.
For example, take the Obsessive Winker (yes, I said Winker). I don’t need to explain what his signature move is. It’s simple, subtle, and highly irritating. (Depending on your dating site of choice, he may appear under the guise of Obsessive Smiler or Obsessive Poker. Different gesture, same guy.) Your best weapon here is the blind eye. He’ll wink at you to his heart’s content, but will never send you a message. Go for someone who’s willing to make a bit more effort.
2. Keep your feet on the ground
When you come across a guy who ticks all your boxes, don’t get too carried away. This can be difficult if the last man to make contact was a 70-year old chip shop owner. Likewise, if he ticks absolutely none of your boxes, but is so damn gorgeous you want to lick the screen of your laptop. Say a handsome, chiseled, stylish Italian man-boy messages you how beautiful you are. He sends you pictures of his six-pack and makes regular words sound like impassioned declarations of love. He’s 11 years younger and lives 1000 miles away. It could work out, right?
Um, probably not. Our brief flirtation was nice while it lasted, but it didn’t take long for me to get a grip. I realised that I could be missing out on a regular guy, with a regular stomach, who has just as much baggage as I do and lives in the same time zone. I deleted Stefano’s number, but filed his picture in my “Things to Do When I’m Horny” folder.
3. Stay sober
A little Dutch courage is fine. So much that you can’t focus on what you’re typing is not. When you have to make the walk of shame to the computer the next morning, trying not to trip over empty wine bottles and dreading what you’ll see under Messages Sent folder when you log on, you have a problem. It’s the online dating equivalent of drunk-dialing, and cold turkey is the only answer. Take a break, for at least 48 hours. Step away from the keyboard. Sober up. Speak to people in the real world.
4. Ignore all communication from your ex-husband
An obvious point, perhaps. Yes, my heart fluttered a little when I saw his familiar face beaming at me from my computer screen. Yes, of course I read his profile. At this point, I realised that the man I married was a dirty, lying bastard. Very romantic? Not when you were married to me, sunshine.
And—seriously. He ignores my texts and emails but tries to chat me up on a fucking dating site?
5. Don’t give up
The Italian man-boy, septuagenarian chip shop owner, Obsessive Winker and ex-husband are simply minor characters in your online dating game. Keep playing. He’s out there, whoever he is. He could be right around the corner, or 1000 miles away.