The Dating Police: An Ongoing Procedural. Episode One.

Hello.  Excuse me.  I’m here on official business.

I can’t help but notice that you, Madam, are biting your lower lip and nodding.  Rather excessively.  And laughing, too.  At the most god-awful shit.

And you, Sir.  You appear to be curling yourself around the table like some sort of fucking contortionist.  And you’ve just dropped your 90k Land Rover into the conversation.

In short, I believe that you are both colluding on an online date and, therefore, have come to my attention as an Officer of the Online Dating Police.

[shows badge]

I must caution you both now.  Everything you say here will be recorded and held against you by either aggrieved party.  You Sir; please don’t insinuate that you are actually interested in understanding this woman.  We both know that’s a pack of fibs.

And Miss, can we admit that you were only dumped last weekend by that aspiring actor?  And that this whole thing will ultimately be a point-scoring exercise against the universe?  I know you hurt.  But don’t take it out on this poor fella.  He hasn’t had sex since 2011, and he’ll be dazzled by the first pair of bare shoulders he sees.  And, actually, that actor was a bit of a nob, wasn’t he?  We both know that.  And he made you feel fat.

you're with the wrong girl, buddy
you’re with the wrong guy, lady

In fact, could I just …

[motions to uniformed partner in the adjacent bar]

… yes.  I’d like to bring in these earlier offenders we caught trying to get the bus back to her place.

Look.  This young man is quite an able lover, and he is self-absorbed to the point of not actually noticing when you dump him.

You.  Universe lady with the actor grind.  I want you to take him home.  He’ll make you feel better, and then he’ll go on his jolly way afterwards, so that you can keep thinking of yourself as a victim, and not a terribly casual shagger.

You my friend.  Yes you.  Lucky escape I’d say.  I’m going to put you with her.  She’s just come out of a bad marriage, and will fall for the first man to gently remove her briefs.  That needs to be you, sonny.  But not tonight.  Both of you are worth more than that.  You are equally fragile, and extremely loving.  You really shouldn’t be out on your own.  And certainly not in the company of these people.

Move along, please.

And walk the streets safely.  I’ll be watching.

[turns to camera]

I’ll especially be watching YOU.

x

Dumped

Good morning!

Well here I am!  Washed and brushed; shiny of coat, lustrous of pelt, and wearing a lovely smile that I tattooed onto my face last night with a rusty nail.

I had a blip.  A wobble.  Last night I chewed my pillow, howled at the universe and wrote some sixth-form cobblers that David Geffen could’ve put a Seattle grunge dirge behind and minted himself another million.  All this after just one and a bit dates.  Johnny Fucking Christ.

Yes.  I was dumped.  Like a teenage twat with his hands in his pockets standing outside his girlfriend’s house; his torn-up love letter falling like confetti around his scuffed shoes.

umm.  are we still on for tomorrow?
umm … are we still on for tomorrow?

It’s a horrible experience becoming a cliché for a few hours.  Ask Stella, she knows. This dumped guy was straight from central casting.  An utter trope.

First there was the premonition.  The pause in correspondence which YOU KNEW was being used to finely tune that final note.

Its arrival.  And funnily enough it didn’t seem to hurt.  Like people in traumatic incidents who look down and notice they’ve lost a leg.

“Oh”, they think.

So I dropped back an immediate, rather jolly reply.  Oh that’s fine, I say.  Yeah, it wasn’t quite right, was it?  Whatever.  Good luck.  See you around.  And I hit the send button.

And then there was the silence.  The feel of something very nice melting away, and pattering onto the floor.  The clock ticked, and my face morphed like a sad clown.  Don’t go.

That’s the thing about dating over social media.  You become conditioned to expect a reply.  You work out your correspondent’s rhythms.  Like two tennis players warming up.  Batting entertainment and attention to each other to keep out the cold.

Knocking the ball to no one and watching it sail off into the car park is not something you’ve become used to.

This is exactly when the trope walks in and asks you to leave.  He’ll take it from here, thank you.

THE STANDARD PROCEDURE

This can’t just stop.  I was enjoying it.

Step One: send another message.  This will read something like, “we should definitely stay in touch, though.  I mean our correspondence was great”.  Your digital voice is increasing in pitch.  Subtext: “Oh Shit”.

Score: 0:1

Step Two: send another message, naturally.  I mean the last two have been such a success; why stop?  This one will be the last wobbling stand of your dignity, and will usually start with the word ‘Look’.  Something like “Look.  I’m not letting this one get away … etc.”.  Subtext:  “This one’s getting away, isn’t it?”.

Score: 0:2

we should probably send her another message.
“we should probably send her another message.”

Step Three: gently place your self-respect in a bucket, leave it at her door.  Ring the bell, present yourself on a plate, and serve.  This final note will haunt you for days.  It is essentially a carte-blanche menu of yourself, no charge.  Please use me.  Muck me about if you want.  Squeeze me in between shags.  Keep me in the kitchen cupboard, and drag me out in needy emergencies.  Subtext: none.  There it is, in all it’s glory.

Score: Game, Set and Match.

This happens to all of us.  It’s the flipside of the laughs and the joy found in meeting new people.  You’ve got to put a bit of yourself in.  Take a risk.  Even if you know it might hurt.  This hassle is part of being ALIVE.  The alternatives to being alive are not promising.  Believe me, I’ve checked out the options.

And try to consider the positives.  I got so caught up with this that I didn’t eat for a week.  A few more romantic disappointments and I’ll have reached my target weight in no time.

I don’t mind losing the odd game.  Especially as I’ve only just walked onto the court after a long lay-off.

Not playing at all – now that’s a proper tragedy.

Who’s for a game?

x

Hoobree, Miss Ives, and Jamming with the Devil

Wind down the windows in your Micra, bung some Led Zeppelin on the stereo, and remember to stick your hands in your pockets quickly before the nice lady notices that you’re shaking. Yes!  It’s another lonely evening here at Online Dating is Shite.

Busy as I have been writing random nonsense and sending pictures of my plastic sword to ladies who like Vikings, I thought I should get back to you.  My favourite people.

Hubris.  Hubris is on my mind.

I once mispronounced that word in a school debate semi-final.  I pulled it out in my summing-up, thinking I was Hitchens; postulating that the opposition was guilty of it.  But I’d only ever seen it on the printed page (it was not the type of word we used in the Maturin household), and I thought it was possibly French, so I pronounced it ‘hoobree’.

You can imagine how the debate went.  It was one of those unique moments.  In which you learn exactly how a word is pronounced; and, in a very personal sense, precisely what it means.  All in the same revelatory instant.

So.  Hubris.  Hubris and Guardian Soulmates.

Take this, for instance:

“Don’t worry.  All my emotional baggage is sorted and neatly put away …”

Aha ha ha ha!  Really?  Brilliant!  Cue the half empty bottle of Vodka, smeared eyeliner, and two community police officers at the door.

I say jolly good to baggage.  I’m all for a bit of baggage.  I’m a gentleman, and will gladly carry it for a while.  I’ll even rummage through it, and see if there’s anything I can take out to make it lighter.  In fact I want a bit of baggage.  With baggage comes wisdom.  Actually that’s quite good.  Could somebody please quote me?

Or what about this:

“I am looking for someone who has attained financial security through entrepreneurship, but is not driven by money or status.”

I’m not even going to bother with that one.  It would be like going to a coconut shy with a laser-sighted rifle.  The same goes for this:

“Someone well-established in her career, but willing to try anything.”

or

“I am looking for a normal, kind and sincere woman who is happy taking risks.”

Oh okay, I realise they don’t all technically qualify as hubristic, but I can’t resist sharing.

I mean, I still believe that my very special person exists.  And I have high hopes for my next date.  But I do keep it kind of real.  Otherwise I’d be tailoring my profile to Miss Ives out of Penny Dreadful.  It would read:

“You are poised, mysterious, and utterly composed.  You are a seductive and formidable beauty, full of secrets and danger.  You have supernatural gifts that will threaten my safety and even my sanity.  And you go like the clappers.”

It’s not going to happen is it?

Qualities I absolutely need in a partner: Understanding. Open mindedness. Lycanthropy.
Qualities I absolutely need in a partner: Understanding. Open mindedness. Lycanthropy.

It’d be great if it did.  She could bring Lucifer round, because I think he and I would get on quite well.  I mean we’re both generally misunderstood.  And probably both like Led Zeppelin.  Maybe he plays bass, and we could try ‘Black Country Woman‘.  Anyway.  I digress.

Hoobree.  Let hoobree be your watchword.

I’m off round Miss Ives’.

x

ps – I’m disproportionately excited about the new season of Penny Dreadful.  I think I’m going to put on my black velvet coat and ponce about in old London pubs.  Like I did after reading Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrell.

Advice on your first Guardian Soulmates date …

Right.  Let’s get one thing clear straight away.  Online dating is sick.  And dreadful.

It turns natural law on its head.  It turns you on your head.  And then it walks away, and it doesn’t say sorry.

In the old days, you rarely met a TOTAL stranger.  You knew something about them.  Even if you met on the bus, you knew that they got that bus, at the very least.  And that cocktail of chemicals at the bottom of your tummy knew you were interested in them before you did.  This is how it should work.  You notice.  You fancy.  You work out a few basic facts.  Then *maybe* you approach.

Online dating is fundamentally fucked.  All this happens backwards.  And it’s not healthy.  Usually because your brain will not let go of the old way.  You know nothing, so you speculate.  You daydream.  You invent.  That cocktail of chemicals at the bottom of your tummy is replaced by a drip of dopamine.  Some neurotransmitter rewards you each time you receive a ‘like’, or an affirmative message.  You have become that rat, who dies a slow death because she keeps battering the pleasure button, and forgets to eat.

Good times.

But, the fact is (and don’t I know it), you just REALLY want to meet someone, dammit.  It’s later than you thought.  You’ve got maybe twelve sexy years left.  Just think about that for a second.  Or actually, don’t; because you’ll need to keep the light on when you sleep tonight.

So what the hell.  Let’s pop a coin in the slot.

So, some rules for survival, learned in the trenches, on the front line, under heavy fire and incurring some horrible injuries …

DO NOT OVERSPECULATE.

It can go like this.  You message on Monday.  He replies.  You actually find him funny, which is a surprise (you thought the first few would be twats, natch).  It’s Tuesday, and you find you’re messaging each other at work.  Great stuff.  By Wednesday, there’s a part of you (which you won’t admit to) that is actually thinking of baby names.  And then on Thursday he doesn’t message, and you FUCKING HATE HIM.  You drive around in your car singing “Baby, you’re time is gonna come” really loudly, and wobbling your head from side-to-side in a sister-I’m-liberated manner.  He’s not gonna get one over on me!  HELL NO.

Actually it’s only been fourteen hours since his last message, and you haven’t even spoken to him yet.

See what I mean?

SO KEEP THE MESSAGING RELAXED.

Realise it’s not yet real-life.  You are like two hostage negotiators, and at stake is your self-worth, happiness and emotional security.  Reveal yourself slowly.  Share control.  You don’t want Special Forces bunging tear gas through the windows and shooting the innocents, and demanding statements of romantic intent.

UNDERSTAND THAT THE OTHER PARTY IS AS FUCKING USELESS AS YOU ARE.

Easy to forget.  I have usually assumed that my prospective date is the most laid-back woman on the planet.  Everything is water off her back.  She is ice-cool, and has a list of male reserves so long she needs two handbags.  She can take me or leave me.  She’s dated a load of guys, most of whom were more clever, taller, better-hung and hugely more successful in the arts than me.  This leads me to over-compensate, i.e. the real me (the guy she might have noticed on the bus in the old days) is still as far away as ever.  Sound familiar?

THE OTHER PARTY FEELS THE SAME AS YOU.

He is convinced that, although he would like to be Oscar Wilde, he will, in any phone call, end up mumbling balls to you in a high-pitched squeak.  He is absolutely convinced that when he arrives at the date, he will fall over the next table/leave his flies undone/cough his coffee into your face all in the one same horrible extended slapstick moment.

DON’T JUST TRY TO ENTERTAIN, ALSO TRY TO LISTEN.

Important one this.  You can get so anxious about seeming ‘fun’ that you suddenly realise you’ve just guffawed at his ex-wife’s cancer.  Not everything the other party says will be funny.  Similarly, one date spent some generous effort explaining to me that over-messaging freaked her out.  I sent her fourteen messages reassuring her that I wouldn’t.  And I rue the day.  Is that how you spell ‘rue’?  I’m not sure.  So listen, is what I’m trying to say.

Don’t rue.  It’s not pleasant for you.  And it takes a while to go away.

x

Advice for ladies on their Guardian Soulmates profile …

Okay, so this is a random collection of inappropriate tittle-tattle based on a great deal of surfing the popular online self-harming festival that is Guardian Soulmates.  It is for ladies over the age of about thirty, as I tend to avoid women younger than that.  I’m sorry, but you’re often frighteningly well-adjusted.  And that won’t do.

There are many things to consider when constructing your profile.  I mean, this is going to go out there and represent you.  You want people to laugh when you’re being funny, and to furrow their brow when you are channelling your inner Keats.  Not the other way round.

Firstly, it’s important to get the basics right.  You are a WOMAN looking for a MAN, or whatever.  Just pause for a second, and make sure you’ve got that bit right.  You would be surprised how many punters actually get that bit wrong.  AlphaWolf77 often shows up in my suggestions, talking about his love of weight training and his impressive way with the ladies.  And I’ve got a beard.

Then there’s the photo.  A few ground rules.  Crop EVERYBODY else out.  Especially if there’s a *slight chance* that they’re prettier than you.  You don’t want his first reaction to be “who’s your mate”.

The same goes for other guys.  I don’t care if he’s gay, or your brother.  Or even your gay brother.  From this angle it looks like he could probably beat me up.  And he’s almost certainly better equipped than I am.

Don’t pose.  Don’t recline, or do that thing where you put your finger to your mouth in that “who? lil ol’ me?” fashion.  It’s just odd.  A really good smile is great, or if you look like you might laugh at my jokes.  That’ll work.

Don't do this.
Don’t do this.

Oh, and despite preconceptions, you don’t have to show any, you know, décolletage, or anything.  I mean, it’s nice that you have some, but no two guys like the same thing.  And we’re honestly not that straightforward.

And there’s a good deal of guff going around that we don’t read profiles.  Cobblers.  Of course we do, if only to see if you absolutely require us to be ‘financially savvy’.  Because that counts most of us out.

And, do you want to know a secret?  of course you do.  One of the ones I really fell for, she didn’t have a picture.  Sure, there were a couple in her gallery.  But no upfront glossy.  Just a lovely profile.  What can I tell you?  Good writers are hot.

hot.
hot.

Talking of profiles, you really don’t have to declare your love for adventure, or that you’re equally as happy practising your capoeira in the park as you are climbing the campaniles on a windy day.  Or that you like to round it off by throwing some shapes on the dance floor.  I’m in my forties, and that sounds fucking exhausting.  I’m happy to watch ‘Game of Thrones’ and have a good snog.

Basically, think of your ideal guy, give him a name, imagine what he’s into, and write it for him.  Don’t be afraid of frightening anyone, or being intimidating.  Go niche.  Because that’s entirely what you deserve.  And he’s probably out there.  Somewhere.  Having the same torrid time as you.

If you follow some of these rules, I’m not sure if you’ll be successful, but you might find me knocking on your door.  Which if you’ve read anything else on this blog, you may find blisteringly terrifying.

Finally, if at any point you suspect that the guy that you’re talking to does not feel any of the above, steer well clear.  He’s only talking to you because the twenty-something he’s been grooming has finally laughed in his stupid shiny face.