Friday, February 29, 2008

The second rule of online dating is: Don't invest too much too soon

I cannot emphasise this enough to anyone thinking about giving this cyber-matching thing a whirl. Early on I decided that when I first met up with a potential candidate (shall I just call them "dudes" from now on? I think I will), after exchanging detailed enough email messages to determine that they were a) genuine, b) sane and c) relatively normal, that I would call the first meeting just that: a meeting. Not a date. If, when you meet in the flesh and things go well, and there is laughter and easy chatter and a definable spark; then you can arrange an official Capital-D Date. If however, things don't go so well, and there are awkward moments and no flow or attraction, then you can go home with no harm done, and look forward to your next meeting.

(I should say at this juncture that I haven't had a bad experience yet. This whole experience so far has done nothing but reaffirm my faith in the general goodness of people.)

This "emotional holding back" has been a hard-won lesson for me. I have often invested too much, too early, and made myself far too vulnerable to upset if things didn't work out, especially in my late twenties when I was seriously unhappy and thought that salvation would come in the form of a man. On the other hand, if things did work out, the relationship would be rushed through from "dating" to "serious" way too quickly, and I would end up falling into a full-on, overwhelming, life-changing, compromise-making relationship without even the time to stop and think about whether this was actually what I wanted.

Right now, I am finally (at the grand age of 31) in that place where I would like to have a boyfriend, but actually, I am doing just fine on my own.

In fact, I am even beginning to question whether I want someone in my life right now. Boys just take up so much damn energy. And I seem to attract that particular species of bloke who needs a hell of a lot of looking after. Right now I just want to look after myself for a bit. Also, I am feeling more content than I have in a long time, and I don't want to rock my little boat too much.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Saturday night

The Glitter Bandits. No further detail necessary, really.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The first rule of online dating is: Don't Talk About Online Dating

It's all part of the dance. Whilst on an online date, you can talk about things that are made mention of on the website, but you cannot bring up the actual website, directly or indirectly. If one of you slips and makes mention of the website, the other must pretend they didn't hear and hastily change the subject. To come right out and talk about other dates you have been or are planning to go on is sheer dating suicide. To confuse your potential suitor for another online candidate is kamikaze territory (aren't you the one who has a sister in Iceland? No? Are you sure?)

It's best to feign ignorance of the whole world of online dating. That way you can keep up the pretense that you both met randomly, and just happen to know each other's life history/taste in music/career plan by sheer coincidence.

Of course, if the date is not going well and you want to put off your potential suitor, then it makes sense to talk about nothing but online dating. As in, the number of years you have been online dating, unsuccessfully; an extensive rundown of how many online dates you have been on previously; the picture you once put up on your profile of you in your underwear in order to garner more dates, etc.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Online Dating: Dispatches from the Frontline

What better day to write about dipping my toe into the unknown waters of online dating than today, while the streets outside are still strewn with the petals of hastily-bought roses in the aftermath of Valentine's Day?

To bring you up to speed - I have been single since breaking up with my long term boyfriend in June last year. I think I coped fairly well, considering that 1) I had high hopes for the relationship; 2) I had just helped him deal with the fallout, emotional and practical, of an unexpected bereavement; and 3) earlier the same year, I turned thirty, with all the self-analysis and reassessment of life choices that that particular landmark entails. No longer the chicken of Spring, etc.

For a while there, I focused very hard on holding myself together and getting back to a level of emotional stability, and just didn't have the energy or the inclination to even think about men. It was all about me, at that point. That is one of the plus sides of being single in your thirities, you have a lot of free time to devote to self-reflection and development. I did a lot of yoga, drank a lot of chamomile tea, and cried in front of my boss.

I had always said that if I found myself single and in my thirties, that I would try online dating. Many of my friends have tried it at one point or another, with varying degrees of success. It seems to have lost the tarnish it once had of being the sole preserve of nerds, losers and psychopaths. I know that the ideal situation (at this point I can hear my mum's voice in my head) is that you would meet someone through friends, or at work. However, here in the real world, my work is full of old men and accountants, and my friends are all female. I just don't come into contact with that many, or even any, eligible men. So, internet dating it is.

Anyway, so far, it has been a strange experience, but not a bad one. After getting a friend to write up a profile (it works on a recommendations basis), adding quite a few people to my "favourites" list, and sending out a load of messages to potential suitors, I sat back and waited. After a week, my inbox resounded with a vast, echoing, wind-whistling, tumble-blown silence. I think it is fair to say my ego was a little bruised.

After a few weeks of feeling like Superted pre-super powers (scary voice-over: When he was made, they found something wrong with him... and threw him away like a piece of rubbish!), I cracked and decided to make my profile funnier, and a bit ridiculous ("6 ft tall blonde amazon with teeth that sparkle like diamonds"). These English people (men and women) are extremely witty and eloquent, so no ordinary "nice and normal" write up is going to do the trick. I also changed my profile pic to a more natural, less dressy shot.

Anyway, it either worked; or those cosmic forces that decree as soon as you stop giving a sh*t, you get what you wanted, came into play. A few people have got in touch and some have even added this little teddy bear to their list of favourites. I have been on a couple of dates so far, with a few more scheduled. More to come on that, later.

* * *

You all remember what happened to that bear, don't you? That's right, a Spotty Man from outer space brought him to life with his cosmic dust, took him to a magic cloud where Mother Nature gave him special powers...

That bear became... Super Ted!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

My new t-shirt has a Bad Attitude.

Could come in very handy for future break-ups.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A scene from my childhood

I have been spending my Tuesday nights on a lovely illustration course, with a group of other frustrated graphic designers/desk-top publishers/digital retouchers/account executives. The atmosphere is quietly supportive, with not an overblown ego in sight. It just feels so nice to be back in an educational environment. The hallways and stairwells seem infused with hormones and ideas and hope which has not yet been extinguished.

I don't even know where this style of drawing came from - I have never used it before - but I am trying new materials and methods, and having a lot of fun in the process. It turns out, I like drawing dinosaurs and little kids.

Our first project was based around the statement that "Sometimes, it's good to lie". This is one of the pieces I came up with.
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