The Reassurance Boogie vs. The Denial Twist

Goodness!  The sun!  Isn’t it glorious?

Yes, it’s another day in that cosmic circle of disappointment that is online dating.  I’m waiting for your message, you’re waiting for his, and he copped off last night with someone so unsuitable that he is now creating an inbox rule that will send all of her emails tumbling into his junk folder. Marvellous isn’t it?

It’s like being back in the school playground.  Rob fancies Jenny, but Jenny fancies Mark.  Mark fancies George, but George’s parents are involved in a messy divorce, so he’s busy pulling the legs off flies.  Yes.  Happy days.

Actually it’s not like the playground at all.  My son is six, and he’s got a girlfriend.  They hug and kiss and discuss their mutual interests with passion.  Which is mostly dragons, but don’t knock it.  On the evenings before their playdates, they each get so excited that they can’t sleep.  Which makes them infinitely more clued-up than any of us.  Fact.

Although there maybe something worrying lurking in the gene pool.

He bounced out of the classroom door on Friday with a grin that would make the Cheshire Cat slink off and consider its options.


“She said it!”

“Said what?”

“She said it, she said it, she said it, she said it …”

Turns out that, during tidying-up time, my son had found it necessary to throw a few advanced wrestling techniques on the boy who was competing for his girlfriend’s attention.  Which I think mostly involved sitting on his head.

After he had sat there for a while, releasing the obligatory fart into his opponent’s face and flexing his muscles (think Achilles dragging the body of Hector around the walls of Troy), his girlfriend had said, “I love you”.

Man, he was giddy as, well, a schoolboy.  And I know the feeling.  That kind of affirmative message you get after displaying like a demented silverback (whether it’s wrestling all-comers , or discussing a mutual love of Neil Gaiman over email) is pure intoxication.

Four hours later, and he’s as glum as anything.  Quiet, and avoiding eye contact.

“What’s the matter?  We’ve had an awesome day!  Remember what she said.”


“I want to hear her say it again.”


Oh dear.


Yes. The old reassurance boogie.  Bad at the best of times.  But infinitely fucking worse in the digital age.

For each loving positive message that arrives by text/email/twitter, there seems to be a rapid countdown after which its meaning and validity decays at the rate of minutes passed.

You get a lovely message.  Funny, and thoughtful.  And although not spelled out explicitly, indicates that the small amount that the person knows about you is floating their boat.

You reply immediately, because you’re shit at being aloof.

A minute passes.  Maybe ten.  Suddenly you’re hitting the ‘check mail’ button like John Bonham kicked his squeaky pedal.

OH MY GOD.  She’s met somebody else.  That guy she gave up on has got back in touch.  That bastard.  Actually she was never into you.  ACTUALLY SHE’S BEEN MESSAGING YOUR MATE.  BLAAARRRRGGHHH …

I'm sorry.  It's been 45 minutes. Indications are that she's shagging your mate.
I’m sorry. It’s been 45 minutes. Indications are that she’s shagging your mate.

I blame twenty four-hour news.  Has the headline changed?  No?  You mean the last report filed was an hour ago?  THEY COULD ALL BE DEAD BY NOW!

But your correspondence is not like world news.  Wolf Blitzer is not sitting at his desk bullet-pointing all the humiliating things that might have happened, or are likely to.  It’s not life or death.

Let’s institute a law.  We’ll call it Maturin’s law.

Your budding relationship or friendship is as good as your last message, and remains that way, inviolate, until you specifically hear otherwise.

Unless it’s been ten days, and you can tell that they’ve been on the dating site EVERY DAY SINCE, and that they HAVEN’T LOOKED AT YOUR FUCKING PROFILE ONCE.



Fuck the reassurance boogie, this just might be the denial twist.