I’ve been wanting to write a post about internet dating all week, after reading WeeGee’s recent post on her own initial experiences, where should asked whether I might be able to share some of my thoughts from the male side of the spectrum…
I don’t really know what to say at this point and, some points I would like to make have already been covered in other posts scattered around. I don’t like to repeat myself so, I’m just going to try and write this as it comes.
It was shortly before Christmas last year when I first joined a dating website. That one was Planet Rock Dating. I actively listen to their DAB radio station and, after coming across a handful of profiles where I found the users to be both attractive and interesting (rock music seemed like an obvious shared interest), I paid for a subscription and started messaging them.
Time went by and days passed without reply. Further browsing of the site lead me to the realisation that the majority of members here hadn’t been online recently. I think my first subscription was for up to three months (£60) so, I still had a while to go there! In the mean time, I set myself up on Match.com, which is always being advertised on the TV in the UK, even now. Like a lot of them; it’s free to sign up and register but, if you want to be able to message people or to see who had viewed and winked at you then, you needed to pay for it (that was another £30, but for only one month, as a trial). I began browsing the site and came across one who I was instantly attracted to. Her name was Emily but, it wasn’t actually until I received a wink from someone who would turn out to be ‘January’ that I decided to pay. I messaged Emily once and then again a fortnight later; fearing that she was ignoring me. She did reply towards the end of the month, but only to say that she was leaving and not looking for a relationship at that moment. I tried to discreetly give her my e-mail address (some sites won’t let you disclose this in an early message) but, I’m not sure if she got it. I’ve never heard from her.
To this day, I’m still active on Match, even though my latest six-month subscription expired only two-days ago. My hopes of meeting someone new through this are pretty much shot but, I do hold on in case Emily should decide to return.
Eventually, things ended with ‘Jan’ in February and, while struggling to deal with that, I went on a kind of ‘sign-up binge‘, where I joined several new (to me) dating sites around the beginning of March in the rather desperate hope that I would find someone new. It was also one-month before my 27th birthday and so, I was also anxious about not spending another birthday alone…
There were two sites that I joined (OKCupid and Plenty of Fish), where I am still or again active today. At the same time, I managed to discover two other sites (Plenty More Fish and Smart Dating UK) that were actually identical to Planet Rock Dating – it had the same members with the same profiles and a near-identical site theme and layout. It was like they’d taken one site, cloned it and simply reproduced it with a different name, badge and colours. My sister told me not long ago that even Match has a ‘clone’ but, I’ve not come across it.
Back on PRD, I received my first wink from a member in Gloucester. She was living in the same city and even looked a bit like Jan… This woman would eventually be known as ‘April’ on this blog. I messaged her straight away to say that I was only looking for friends after recent events and she did reply a few weeks later. We became friends through Facebook and MSN (sorry, Windows Live Messenger) and eventually met up for a Sunday afternoon in Bath (as friends). We seemed to get on okay but, the friendship wasn’t really to last once I met ‘May’ on POF.
I joined POF before my birthday and, as it’s a totally free site to use with loads of members, I would (and still do, now) get in to a near-compulsive habit of messaging a number of people in a single night – again, in the desperate hope that someone will do a little more than simply to view my profile afterwards. Internet dating can be a completely soul-destroying process. I imagine that some others (particularly men) find the whole thing a lot easier but, I have no evidence to support this… Is there anyone out there who could clarify?
After a good number of weeks of mostly ignorance with the odd message of rejection (I either wasn’t their “cup of tea” or, my favourite “thanks for the interest, sorry, it is not mutual“), I was pretty close to giving up. I could feel the pressure compounding down on my pancaked self-esteem. A quick blast through a list of new users lead me to May’s profile. She was beautiful. In many ways, more so than the rest. She also had interests that I could actually relate to and she wasn’t afraid to actually put words in to her self description. I honestly never expected to hear from her but, to read that first message in my inbox the next day; it was light removing the curtains and opening every window in a dark and dusty room that had been in a state of darkness for too long.
Needless to say, I fell for her quickly but also felt some heartache early in to our friendship when I realised that she was still intent on ‘working things out‘ with her ex. She can be very aware of how her words, emotions and actions can affect people but, when it comes to love and relationships, I don’t think she can see it. Before meeting me, she met a guy who turned around after ten-days and said that he was back with his ex. After only one month of knowing her, I think I believed that I could see why he had reacted in that way (I’ve never told her this). I sometimes wonder if I’d still be so concerned with her if only I had more friends of my own but, I do believe that my feelings for her have always been true; unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.
I’m almost skipping ahead here to bypass ‘the one I didn’t meet‘ back in April. I found her on the Telegraph Dating website; one of only two people I was attracted to on there. I payed for mine and she soon payed for her subscription, so that we could talk. It turned out that she was actually signed up to a different site (Classic FM Dating) so, again, there’s that cross-over between sites… I’ve even googled my own username to learn that I’m somehow registered on sites I’ve never even heard of! I’ve not mentioned this girl on here before but, I’ll now refer to her as ‘Avril‘ (same month as the other). She was the third person I’d talked to who was living in Gloucester! She was adamant that she was only looking for friends and I do believe her, or else she wouldn’t have bothered to continue the contact in to friendship via Facebook. She lives a busy life and has recently relocated to London, where she now has a boyfriend of her own.
We’ve talked about meeting several times; the last being back in September. I’ve always had a fear of meeting her because I know she doesn’t want anything yet, I allow myself to become too easily attached to some (but not all) women who I do find attractive. In a way, I found it quite fortunate that, on the one day we were due to meet in Bristol, I did have a terrible cold. Maybe I’ll meet her; maybe I won’t. I was the last person to suggest the most recent idea but, she’s not responded.
In the time between May and August where I was knowing May, I made an effort to at least ‘hide’ myself from these sites. I deleted my account on POF, to show her my commitment and I disabled my profile on OKCupid. Days before I found her, I’d payed for six-months at Match and so, I decided to keep that one open, as I didn’t like to waste money. I was also still stuck on Planet Rock Dating – to cancel that, you have to phone up and speak to someone (anxiety); most of the others can be cancelled online. I found the confidence to try this two months ago and, they offered me two free months at the end… But, I didn’t phone them back in time for the renewal (they require 72 hours notice) and so, that’s another £60 gone; taking me through until the new year! 😛
Somewhere along this timeline, I also tried Friends Reunited Dating, which used to be quite good but, is now littered with FAKE profiles and scammers. It’s very similar now to another that I tried, called Cupid.com. Endless messages arrive in your inbox and they’re clearly not from genuine people.
eHarmony is something I dipped in and out of quite quickly, not long after the breakup with Jan but, I then returned in June (I think), when they were offering a free weekend and, consequently, I ended up paying for three months there (£90). That didn’t get me anywhere and I found it very difficult to use; only initially exchanging a series of questions and answers with members before you get to write your own words. I got all the way to the end with one woman, who then decided not to respond.
MatchAffinity is something else that I’ve tried without any form of success. You need to pay even before you can view someone’s photos; I really don’t get how this site is meant to be different to Match, aside from the obvious percentage scoring. Even as I type this, I think about logging on for another look. Maybe I’ll even pay for another month some time. It’s only for the curiosity now; I have no belief that I’m going to meet anyone else this way.
Since hearing of May’s engagement, I’ve reinstated myself on OKCupid and I also have a new profile on POF. I am talking to one potential friend on OKC (who is also a member of a walking group I joined recently) so, that’s something. Even though she has no photos and nothing other than her age and gender stated on her profile! Someone else I was talking to (no, really!) went silent and has disappeared again. On POF, I’ve messaged at least 25 women in the last month, with only one polite reply to say sorry. This morning, I messaged someone locally who I went to school with… She looked at my profile but clearly isn’t going to reply. Now, I hope I don’t ever bump in to her!! 😛
Whenever May would attempt to get back with her ex-now-fiancée, I’d find myself turning to Match, in the hope of receiving a response. One woman did seem to express an interest in guitars but, she never got back to me after that and, I believe, has now removed her account.
I was Googling for something else earlier and came across a statement on a forum that basically said:
“Men who can’t talk to women in real life will also struggle to talk to women online“
…Yep, that must be me! Or else, why would people bother to view my profile when they can already see one photo.
So, I’m still present on four sites, ‘just in case‘… I don’t feel as though I should continue to put myself through all of this but, until I can start getting out and meeting more people, I still feel as though it’s one of my best options.
Unlike WeeGee, I don’t have different categories or names for various types of members on these sites. Perhaps if I’d have been able to hold more conversations though, that would be different.
Of the three women I’ve met in person, plus the one I’ve never met, three of them were based up in the city of Gloucester. Excluding ‘Avril’, that includes two women with bipolar disorder and one woman who works for the NHS in a psychiatric ward (it’s even possible she may have cared for Jan at some point). But, why???
If you’re single, living in the UK and curious about the world of online dating then, based on my own experiences, I would only advise you to consider Match.com as a paid site. Before that though, it might be worth browsing OKCupid. If you’re as desperate as me, you may then want to consider POF… Try not to rush in to paying for a sub, as I did. At least, not before you’ve had a good look around. Some messages will be genuine, others won’t – just like the other members on these sites.