‘You’ve got to be in it to win it.’… ‘You need to get out there more.’… ‘There is someone for everyone, you just have to keep trying.’… Sound familiar? Having been single for 7 years and up until July 2017 I hadn’t had a single date in 4 years. So I’ve heard these and many other words of wisdom and ‘encouragement’, from my well-meaning friends, colleagues and even (bizarrely), strangers.
I have to say that I am quite a contented singleton. I enjoy my own company, rarely get lonely, love the freedom of doing pretty much whatever I like, when I like. It helps that I have a great set of friends. However (there is always a ‘But’ or a ‘However’), I do miss the intimacy of a relationship. Not just the physical side but also the small intimacies that come with familiarity, closeness and affection. You know what I mean, like when someone notices that you are sat awkwardly and they spontaneously come and massage your neck or shoulders. Over the past 7 years I have not found a good substitute for this, I can tell you straight up, that a tennis ball against the wall just does not hack it!
I am not a recluse. I socialise well, but usually with friends. Not scared of going out to events or on holidays on my own. What on earth am I doing wrong? One Friday evening after work whilst sat in the garden drinking a cheeky Prosecco, I decided that I would have to bite the bullet and have a go at ‘Online Dating’. So armed with a selection of pictures and fortified by bubbles, I set up my profile and hoped for the best. Within 24 hours I was totally freaked out by it all. Messages and ‘Likes’ came flooding in. A friend told me calmly ‘You’re new blood, sharks can smell it a mile off’. Not helpful in my state of anxiety, but correct all the same. Messages ranged from one word; ‘Yum!’, to long rambling missives. Some were really amusing, intelligent and insightful, others were strange and downright rude. At first I tried to reply to all the messages, but what can one really say to a stranger that asks what dress size you are? I know what I wanted to say, but thought that I would be the better person and just ignore it. Eventually you just pick the ones to reply to or approach based on whether their profile fits. If that is, you can believe what it contains. That’s a whole other issue. I hated the process. It felt like a second job, answering emails, reviewing badly taken selfies and poorly spelled ‘sales pitches’, which is what a profile is. More importantly it made me feel ‘Superficial’. Who was I to dismiss someone based on a few words and a photograph? ‘Just keep at it. It’s a numbers game’, friends said. I don’t want it to be a numbers game, I am a romantic and this was making me cynical beyond belief. Besides how can you tell if it’s going to be number 4 or number 4444?
I stuck at it for 5 months. During that time I had 8 first dates (no seconds), saw a lot more of the country, learnt new phrases like ‘Ghosting’, ‘Benching’ and ‘Zombing’ and came to realise that standard measurements like feet and inches were widely open to interpretation.
The main issue was that the investment and expectations each of you places on the first meeting. After already messaging and talking a few times, this expectation is exceptionally high. You build up this mental picture of how they will be and you know they are doing exactly the same about you. The pressure is almost too much for that elusive ‘spark’ or ‘chemistry’ to manifest itself and more often than not, one or both of you, are disappointed.
I gave it a go – so my yearly report for 2017 is probably a C+. Could try harder. Hmmm. How is the question?
Recently at a wedding I met Charlie who runs a Singles Events Company MyFriendCharlie, based in London. It sounded like a way of having a cracking night out with a lot of other single people, with no expectations. If you meet someone great, if not you’ll have had an enjoyable night out. This sort of approach really suits someone like me who wants to see ‘the whites of their eyes’ and develop a relationship with someone more naturally.
My problem is that I only visit London for work once or twice a month, but its still a viable and exciting option. I have also decided I will join a few more clubs nearer home, and yes I will also re-register for Online Dating. So my yearly report at the end of 2018? Hopefully it will be an A for effort at least. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Gert – The Hopeful Romantic