Because I didn’t accidentally or organically meet a husband before Christmas, I decided I would join a dating website. Looking at the adverts on the tube, my selection boiled down to eharmony and match. There were other options, but they either seemed to activity-heavy or faith-orientated or appeared to want more of my browser history than I felt comfortable with.
A friend, Lisbet, is doing eharmony and, after the emotional toil of completing the questionnaire on which the matches are based, is having a great deal of success with it. The questions were fairly deep and required a commitment to introspection. Filling out five questions too us about an hour, but we had a great chat at the same time. The concept is that, based on your answers to key questions about your values, the algorithm selects men you would be most suited to and you can contact them.
Another friend, Carrie, is doing Match. There are still questions to ask, but the answers are more for your profile than the algorithm. There isn’t an algorithm. The onus is on you to search through the website based on your own parameters and you can message anyone you like.
My thinking was that eHarmony seemed a bit too serious for a starting step, and I was loathe to sign up to it and find there was no one for me to match with. The pro-active element of Match appealed, so I figured I would start there and, if it went horribly wrong, I would have eharmony to fall back on.
As I mentioned in a previous post, a friend was ill and I distracted her with setting up a rudimentary profile. At home later I sat down and nearly cried trying to write a 200 word “this is who I am, this is what I want” bit. It felt worse than a job application and the UCAS form for university.
Who AM I? No idea. What do I want? Well, a comprehensive list of traits, but also, none of that matters. What’s worth knowing about me? Not a clue. What *should* someone know about me, that tells them who I am, but isn’t off-putting? GOOD GRIEF.
I found it really hard not being able to look at other girls’ profiles and use those as a template or a jumping off point, which is interesting in itself. I’m happy doing things on my own (to the point where going to the cinema with someone feels like a waste of rare communal time. Why sit in the dark and not talk for two hours if we hardly ever see each other?) and I’m well aware I’m not quite like everyone else, BUT I don’t want to get things wrong, to be too different.
For reasons I will never understand, my mother is always on the look-out for “something different” and I am always always trying to fit in. Which is why, at age 11, I unhappily wore a pink denim jacket, rather than the regular blue denim jacket I actually wanted. I was happy to look “common”, if I didn’t stick out more than I already did. I lived away far from school, I worked hard at school because I wasn’t remotely popular and my mum had certain views on activities and behaviours (in all seriousness, she told me I couldn’t go to a sleepover when I was 8 because I might say I was going to a girl friend’s house when I was 16 and really go to a boy’s house. She has since denied this exchange ever took place. At age 8 the idea that a boy would even look sideways at me was extremely unlikely. Even at 16, the idea that a boy would look sideways at me…). I was very Other, as the literature theory books would say.
As an adult I stick out because I have an accent, I wear glasses, I’m loud when I should be quiet, I’m not From Here and I don’t always know how things work (I’m still not 100% sure what a comprehensive is. It sounds glamorous and like an exciting story from Bunty to my ears), I’m quite square in that I want to be in bed by ten pm, I’ve never been a girl for the Club scene (even typing that is making me laugh) and I never had a rebellious phase. I believe in rules and laws and doing what you’re supposed to. I’ll never smoke weed and have no truck for middle class drug taking (you’ll make a fuss for fair trade coffee and organic eggs, but have no problem funding organised crime because you need it to handle your stress and it “helps you to focus”? I call horse-sh*t).
How do you say any of that without sounding so boring that no one wants to engage with your profile?
In a state of panic, I essentially wrote a list of things I liked. The tv shows, the movies, where I like to travel to, food (pasta, cake) and beverages (instant coffee, whiskey) and that I put weight on spelling, grammar and punctuality. It was a horrible mess. Additionally there was a “searching for” section, where I set out what I was looking for (someone between 25 and 35, who lives in London, who likes some of the same things as me etc etc). This proved to be time I could have saved.
There was a bit of argy-bargy over the profile photos. I chose a selection of me looking fairly decent with and without my glasses (so as not to straight out lie to people that I wear lenses all the time, rather than when I only have to make an effort for a few hours). Match has an approval process for photos, which is entirely understandable, but for some reason none of my photos were approved until I notice a week later and sent four emails with increasing snark. For a week I had men contact me without knowing what I looked like. This makes all the difference actually.
To cut a long story short, I was “on” Match for about a month. I received well over a hundred emails, a good couple of hundred profile views and a lot of winks. Most of the emails were limited to “hello, you look nice” and no more. I didn’t engage with those, because there wasn’t much to engage with! The longer emails were from men who I wasn’t interested in and, if they’d read my profile, they would have seen why (lived too far away, way above my age bracket, we had absolutely nothing in common etc etc). On the comedy front, I did get a fair few hilarious emails, including one from a chap who said I looked “disease-free” and another asking me if I would “date a man who had been into group sex before.” He then implored me to “be honest” in my response.
Every day I got an email from Match telling me that there were men for me, but every time I logged in I couldn’t see these men! Lots of men “winked” at me (the match equivalent of a Facebook poke), but didn’t follow it up with anything. The men selected by my friends (Neil, in particular) who I messaged, didn’t message me back. I wasn’t remotely interested in the men who were interested in my profile.
One night, I got bored and a bit desperate and replied to a “you look nice” email. His name was Matt and I replied with “I *am* nice.” We had an online chat for an hour and arranged a date for that Friday. We met in a pub near my office and had a perfectly nice time, but we weren’t remotely attracted to each other.
This was disheartening. I was only being approached by much older men, who I didn’t find remotely attractive. I did learn a lot about my preferences. Unlike a lot of other women, it seems, I don’t care about height, but I do care about hair and teeth. I’m not bothered by tattoos, but I do want someone athletic looking (a bit rich coming from someone who considers walking up the escalator high intensity gym work). I don’t really care how much money you make, but I do want someone who can spell and use full sentences with punctuation. I’m not interested in someone who wants to travel the world in a backpack, I do want someone who is close to their family.
Eventually the experience made me so despondent that I paused my subscription. I can go back to it later, but for now, I feel like I have absolutely no prospects and I was miserable, no matter how funny a story I got out of it.