I ask this question quite often, but in this instance I threw it out there to my lovely friends and followers of Beacon.
“Is it me, or has dating changed dramatically in the last few years?”
“Is it me, or have people and attitudes to relationships changed?”
“Is it me, am I the only one who attracts psychopaths, egotistical maniacs and cheats?
Well, I can happily report that it’s apparently not just me. Thanks to our fab followers for contributing their ‘dating disaster’ anecdotes and viewpoints on the dating world.
I’m not good at dating…
Since my divorce in 2012, I can count on one hand the amount of dates I have been on in the last five years (sad but true). I have dealt with a genuine psychopath (read the story here), a micro-penis attached to the biggest ego I’ve encountered, a guy who was on drugs the entire time I was with him and a great guy who I simply didn’t fancy. Tragic isn’t it!
For those of you who have read my story, you will know that I have been through a lot when it comes to relationships. I haven’t been actively looking for a relationship for some time now as my faith in humanity is somewhat dwindling, however I wouldn’t rule out finding love again with the right person.
Up until the end of my marriage, every guy I had been in a relationship with I knew relatively well before dating them, either as friends or work colleagues. Being thrown in to the lion’s den of dating as a self-employed 30-something has been a completely different experience.
Although match.com has actually been around since 1995, internet dating still feels very alien to me and comes with a whole new rule book of interacting with other human beings. You can be who you want to be online, and as you are selected (mainly) for your face-value and not your personality, you want the world to see your outer beauty but heaven forbid you use a natural, candid picture – You can use old photos, Photoshopped photos, Instagram filters and more… As a woman, in order to attract a mate you must at least have one Snapchat selfie using the butterfly filter (#standard). But what is scary is that your date can create a profile of the ideal man and make you believe that they are real: trustworthy, loyal, handsome, athletic, financially secure and SINGLE, when actually they are a fat, balding, middle-aged, unemployed married man either seeking validation or worse; a new potential victim (I don’t mean murder of course)…
…Here are some horror stories from our followers:
The One with Alan Partridge
“The attention. It’s all very nice at the start but there’s only so many dick pics you can delete!!! After laughing at them first. Don’t take it too seriously!
So then you start properly chatting and realise you click with the person. I thought after about 2 weeks of constant chatting it was ok to then give them my phone number, as you need to actually speak to people.
Then you talk to them and they seem sound and you have a laugh on the phone like the messages. (If they seem weird get rid straight away).
Then comes to arranging to meet. I was on both POF and match.
I thought after 3 or 4 weeks was plenty of time before meeting 🙂
I met a bloke on Plenty of Fish: Business man owns his house, a bit older than me, (he said 49) That’s ok. Gorgeous in his pics and no signs that pics were old.
We arranged to meet in a lovely country pub. I told my mum, showed her photos and was proper looking forward. Got there and phoned him. He said “yeah I’m here sitting outside waiting for you”.
Could I see him? No…
Then there’s an Alan Partridge look-a-like sitting at a table smiling at me. I went over. My chin on the floor. Please don’t be him I thought to myself. “Hi” he said “It’s me”. I said it’s “Fucking not you!”.
I was a bit pissed off. I said “you don’t look anything like that” . He said “but we get on”. I said “but it’s not you is it?”. I didn’t say you look like Alan partridge but I should have. I was fuming. I said “that’s out of order and I’m sorry you should be truthful”. I left. Livid.”
And then of course there are the deceitful cheats:
The One with the Wife
“I met Sam online, via match (which I paid for). we got on really well, I mean ‘really well’. He phoned me all the time. And I phoned him. There was never anything to make me suspicious. Never “I’ll phone you back” or anything. Or ‘I can’t talk now” etc.
Don’t know how he did it. But turns out he must have had a double life. His name wasn’t Sam, it was Simon.
He came to meet me one night, but his wife and child followed him. They shouted at me as he ran off shouting “oh shit!”.
Then left me with an irate and crying woman with a kid. Wtf?? I did not pay for this!!! The poor kid, there was no need to involve her. I didn’t know what to say and couldn’t speak but she left quickly and I was there standing alone going wtf just happened? Then the cheeky shit came back going ” oh my god she’s a mad woman and must have followed me!!! I put it on Facebook that I was going for a date.”
I told him to take his double life and shove it and walked away. Proper laugh about it all now but my advice would be to just don’t trust too quickly.”
The One with the Gay Porn Star
“After joining Plenty of Fish, I flicked through the catalogue of half-naked men sporting 6 packs, marathon runners, mountain bikers and ski-wankers and felt quite disillusioned by the whole thing. My inbox started to fill with “Hey Babe”, “Hi” and “S’up” single line messages from undesirables and grammatically-challenged idiots from my local area. Then ‘boom’ – in to my inbox pops a message from a tall, dark, handsome stranger. He had read my profile and started quoting lines from some of my favourite films and books. Impressed. (But knew he was copying and pasting them from Google, no one types that quickly)… that aside we began chatting.
He was an architect in London but was currently residing in Brooklyn, New York working on a big project, he was living there for 3 months before he would be returning to London. I love NYC so we had lots to talk about. We chatted for hours via the apps messenger and clicked on so many levels. I headed to the gym that evening with a spring in my step. I had screenshot one of his pictures to text one of my girlfriends for her comment. When I got back from the gym, his profile had disappeared and so had all the messages? What had happened?
I had no way of contacting him, so my friend put the screenshot on Facebook as a ‘wanted’ poster and sent it out to all her friends to see if we could find this guy (sounds a psychotic I know)… someone advised to put the image on a reverse Google image search to see what came up and so I did…
… either I had spent my evening chatting to a top Gay Porn Star or someone had stolen all his Instagram pictures and created a fake profile… I’m guessing it was the latter. I laugh about it now, but it’s one of the main reasons I don’t believe in Internet dating. I am destined to remain terminally single ”
The One with the Con Artist
“Date arranged, I met this ‘guy’ in a beautiful little pub in the country. He was tall, great fun, and we got of famously. The date was going well and it was a Friday night so we ventured into the busier parts of town and he met a chap he knew who tagged on. I’m quite sociable so honestly didn’t mind too much as his friend was very funny! ‘Guy’ was very insistent about me not paying for drinks and at one point tried to confiscate my purse as I kept trying to get a sneaky round in. I just thought he was a bit old fashioned. ‘Guy’ excused himself to pop out for a cigarette so I saw this as a perfect opportunity to fish for info from the friend. He was very positive about ‘Guy’ as you would expect, however when I asked where they met, he laughed and said they worked for HMP together. I knew ‘Guy’ worked in agriculture so I thought it as odd but, put it down to a private joke.
I left for home about midnight and exchanged text to meet next week. ‘Guy’ seemed really keen to meet but towards the end of the week I was “Ghosted”… I chalked it up to a thanks but no thanks on his part and thought no more about it. Another week passed and a friend of mine send me a link with a “shocked face”, and when I opened it I was “shock faced” to see ‘Guy’s’ face staring back at me from a tabloid newspaper website. Seems the reason he had ghosted me was he had been arrested for fraud (not the first time) and had conned numerous OAP’s out of £280,000 and fleeced his fiancé (yes fiancé) out of £30,000 for a horse.”
The One with a Legally Binding Date
“I started chatting to Prof and could tell from the start he was smart, energetic and fiercely passionate about child welfare and education (a subject I love) we spoke on the phone and chatted for 4 hours, had a real connection and I decided to meet him that weekend… Now I would like to caveat that attraction for me is not based on looks. I have a unique taste in men but I am much more attracted to empathetic, funny men than those with a six pack or a flash car (my celeb crush is Eddy Izzard) … however, Prof did not look anything like his pictures, I immediately knew I wouldn’t be sexually attracted to him but I had found him really interesting on the phone so assumed we could still have a pleasant night all the same.
It started well, we discussed our interests and lives briefly and after about 20 minutes I offered to get some more drinks, he insisted he would get them and he left me with what I can only describe as a rolled up scroll (imagine Game of Thrones) and he asked me what I thought of this and left to get some drinks. I opened up the “scroll” and in it was a hand written contract. It outlined rules around how our “courtship” would progress physically and mentally… how I could interact with other men while we were dating with a small section about how everything would have to be with my consent… I would have though consent isn’t something that would generally need to be outlined, surely it’s a given?? However when he returned I laughed it off, handed it back and said very good. Prof looked considerably put out by this and told me through a forced grin that yes he could see how this could be funny but its best to outline intentions early on…. I have never drank a second drink so quick. I made polite excuses of a 6am start the next day and hopped in the nearest taxi… expertly dodging a face snog with a last second cheek offer. I sent the obligatory text – thanks your great but no chemistry and had three days of disgruntled and borderline aggressive messages from him and after a short while he gave up. Shortly after this I heard on the radio about a local man who was renowned in the world of education and I knew it was him… I googled his name and low and behold in the same tabloid paper another of my Tinder dates beaming back at me. He had been accused of using the university text facility to send sexually explicit text messages to students.”
The One with the Shrine
“I met this great guy on ‘Muddy Matches’, we really clicked and arranged to meet in a local pub. After a few drinks and lots of flirting, he invited me back to his house for ‘coffee’. What followed is the stuff of dating nightmares.
As I entered his quaint cottage in the country, I noticed (hard not to) that he had no furniture to sit on, and when I questioned him he said “My ex-wife took the furniture and as nobody likes my taste in furniture I decided not to get any”, “okay, I thought”. I asked him where the bathroom was and he pointed down the hallway… in the bathroom, propped up in the corner was a chainsaw… feeling a bit nervous I finished up quickly and left the bathroom. He handed me a coffee in a dirty mug and began to show me round the house. In the front room was a shrine to his ex-wife – the shelves were covered in ornaments of cats, which he explained he hated, but reminded him of her… I drank my coffee and called a taxi!”
The One with the ‘Bill Please’
“Short and simple story. Chatted to a guy for a few months via message and phone calls as we lived over 300 miles away from each other. As I thought this was now bordering on the realms of a relationship I made the effort to meet for dinner nearer to where he lived. I booked a hotel and arranged to meet him at a fancy restaurant.
It was great to finally meet the man I had invested so much of my energy in and physically, he didn’t disappoint. We ordered our meals and his phone rang. He had previously explained he was having issues with his daughter so when she rang he said he would take the call outside… he never came back to the table. I haven’t heard from him since.”
The One with the Friendly Neighbor
“I dated a guy for a while who lived next door to his EX-wife, and she came round for tea most nights. Asked me if I’d like to meet her… Er Nope!”
The One with the Police
“I went on a first date with a guy. He was a gentleman and paid for dinner. I wanted to contribute, but he said to just pay for the taxi back. We got so drunk that I spent all my money and couldn’t pay for the cab. We ended up in a major drunken screaming match and the police were called to calm the situation down. #datefail”
Online Dating Minefield
If these stories haven’t put you off dating for life, I don’t know what will.
Joking aside, it is a very different landscape out there to what I had imagined. I am rather cynical and perhaps a bit guarded when talking to the opposite sex online. I once heard a metaphor for men dating, which is along the lines of; Dating is like a giant box of chocolates of all flavours, tastes and varieties. If you don’t like one flavor you can ignore it or bin it, you can have as many chocolates as you want and if you find one that tastes good then keep it… for a while until you spit it out and try another variety.
In today’s society I feel that finding someone that is trustworthy is hard, finding someone that is loyal is ever harder, however if you do find it, will you always be wondering how long will it be before they want to sample a new flavor or variety?
Women Should Be More Feminine… ?
Women are becoming more and more masculine in their ways (so I’ve read) and I see more and more women in their 30’s and 40’s who are happier being single and unapologetically choose to be single. They are sick of compromising and tired of being told they are ‘too independent’ and that they should ‘soften round the edges’ and be more feminine if they want to attract a man. This is a load of bullsh*t if you ask me. There are many women who have found married life to be akin to living with a disgruntled, teenager – Men in their 40’s still playing computer games, drinking excessively and constantly out with their mates and then wondering why their partner won’t have sex with them?! “Because you are not attractive when you come in p*ssed and want to fall asleep on top of me”.
As a single woman I am constantly seeing articles, posts and comments about how women should ‘let a man take care of you’ as it is in their DNA to want to take on the role of provider, like ‘hunter vs gatherer’. I remember being told that one of the reasons my marriage failed is because I was too ambitious and I didn’t give my husband the chance to be the ‘bread-winner’ or take care of me… wrong! My husband loved someone else, fact. Even if I had tried to be less ambitious and more mouse-like, he still would have left me.
On the flip side of the coin, guys are telling me that they are sick of shallow women, who are only after them for their looks and big w…allet. They want someone to laugh with and enjoy sharing time with, a woman who they think is the genuine article and not looking for a free ride. I’ve had a lot of messages saying that guys are finding it hard to date successful women as they feel threatened, but also don’t want to date a woman who’s MO is to get pregnant and never work again. To this I would say to they guy posting multiple gym selfies and pics of his cars and holidays that you can’t put out the glossy advert and expect the right kind of woman to apply.
Technology & Dating
Phones are not our friends. Back in the day when I was dating before I got married, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram did not exist. You could text or call someone you had met and then begin dating (simple). Now the whole world is at your fingertips and you can hook up with someone at the swipe of a finger – you can message a stranger on Twitter or Messenger, you can be rejected by someone you have never even met. It is crazy how many options, apps and devices there are available for connecting with other human beings.
This also makes it easier for people to move on to someone else (or overlap) when a relationship breaks down. How do you find a genuine person, who a) cares about you b) hasn’t got 4 other people on the go c) won’t give you an STI?
One of our Beacon friend’s comments:
“Hmm seems very seedy these days.. I mean just as you start a decent chat with someone online and feel a bit of rapport, they ask, “have yau got a web cam and what colour underwear are you wearing”. It’s very hard to trust anyone’s motives. Today there are no community social events, social clubs, local pubs, etc .. how on earth do you meet and get to know a person before taking the plunge?”
Yours/His Bits & Bobs
Question: Why is it that before meeting a guy in person they send you a picture of their penis (with good lighting, always held right at the bottom to give the impression it’s bigger) and you wonder how many women has he sent this to before he’s got a date? Or does he even want a date? Could you sit across a dinner table from a guy who’s member you have already seen in graphic detail? I had one instance where a guy sent me his cock shot and so I called him out on it and reverse Google imaged it, turned out he stolen it off the internet… bet he had a micro-penis!
They also want to see you naked… but on their phone, not in person. Almost like they are collecting a gallery of women that ‘want them’ just for personal validation and to impress their friends. I once sent pics to a guy I had already met in person and totally regretted it. You never know when these pics will come back to haunt you. My advice would be – DON’T SEND THEM ANYTHING. Be careful who you chat to online and remember that, just because they have sent you a dick pic it doesn’t mean it’s their dick and they might be tricking you in to sending nudes!
Surely, dating someone new is all about discovery? May be I’m old fashioned but I would like to get to know someone a little bit before finding out ‘what lies beneath’ their belt buckle… even if that is on the first date 😉
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are so many people out there who enjoy dating, have found someone amazing and are HAPPY!
“On my second ever date with Rich, I accidentally sneezed in his face when he was coming in for a kiss. I mean, it was a full-on snotty, open-mouthed sneeze and he literally had my snot on his face! He just looked at me, said “Mmm, salty!” and laughed. I think it was at that point that I knew he was a keeper!”
“After 40 odd dates, all of varying success I was becoming a little weary of dating and decided I was going to come off, I came home after an amazing night out with my friends with a mind-set of what will be will be, when I opened Tinder there was a message from someone I had messaged a few days previously I gave serious thought of deleting it. But his pictures were cute and his brief “bio” of liking red wine, climbing and cheese piqued my interest. He was funny, loved the outdoors as I do, and we chatted non-stop for days before he went abroad to Puerto Pollenca for 10 days. I expected not to hear from him so when I was still getting texts all through the day I was pleasantly surprised. We arranged to meet for a drink the day he returned and although he was a little nervous (I’m a pretty big character) it went smoothly (even though he fell over at the bar) ((not drink induced)) our relationship strengthened quickly and we spent all of our spare time climbing, hiking, canoeing, cycling and general outdoor adventures. I am happy to report that 8 months on we have just returned from 10 days in the same place he went to just before we met (a nice circle of life moment for us) and I have moved in. After years of a happy but generally mediocre marriage where we bumped along and existed together, I have finally found someone who stimulates me, mind body and soul. We have our own hobbies and interests but both pine if were apart for too long. He challenges me in such positive ways and never belittles me when doing it. We have one of the most open and honest relationships, we listen and we work hard at being good for each other. I have never been so happy or secure in my entire life. So to everyone still out there on the scene… Fight for the fairy tale. It does exist.”
“I thought I’d give up [on internet dating] but then my mate said try Tinder and that’s the best yet. 2 half years on with my bloke and going strong!”
So, in conclusion, YES dating has changed dramatically, however as long as you are armed with a good deal of common sense, a good judge of character, an open-minded attitude and an open heart, PLUS a sixth sense for bullsh*t, you will successfully navigate dating and new relationships.
To everyone who messaged me, contributed their anecdotes and sent me dick pics, ‘Thank You’. I will do my best to get better at dating, and hopefully I won’t have anymore of my own horror stories to share with you!
I wish you love, laughter and happiness for whichever path you choose! Sarah x
Here are some tips from match.com for successful online dating:
The rules of dating have changed. Forget that stuff about playing hard to get, expecting the man to pay, and never having sex on a first date. Today’s rules are a little more user-friendly – but some of them may surprise you. Read on to discover the new rules of engagement.
1. MODESTY IS A TURN-OFF
Many dating profiles start with statements like: “I’m no good at this kind of thing”. The writers are doing themselves no favours. If you put yourself down, you won’t sound attractively self-effacing. You’ll sound needy and insecure.
2. … AND SO IS BRAGGING
Confidence is sexy; arrogance is not. “I cook a mean paella and I’ll always try to make you laugh” is good, but “I have a fantastic job and no-one can understand why I’m single” is not.
3. “I LOVE MUSIC AND BEING WITH FRIENDS.” WELL, DUH!
The aim of the online dating game is to catch the eye of someone you have lots in common with. You do this by being original and, above all, specific about your interests. Instead of saying that you like sunsets, mention the best sunset you’ve ever seen. Say which music you like, and your favourite place to see your friends. Specific information does more than make you sound interesting – it also gives potential dates something to write to you about.
4. NEVER ADMIT THAT YOUR FRIEND WROTE YOUR PROFILE
“I asked my friend to describe me, and here’s what he wrote…” is a cop-out. By writing this in your profile, you’re telling people that you’re not smart or self-aware enough to write it yourself.
5. ZIP UP YOUR BAGGAGE
Most living grown-ups have a history of exes, hang-ups and maybe a nervous breakdown or two. But never admit it to a new or potential lover. They know that you have a past, but they don’t want to hear about it. Keep schtum until you know each other better.
6. DITCH THE WISH LIST
Some online dating profiles read like shopping lists. They’re looking for someone with brown eyes, short hair, between 5’10” and 6′, from north-east Birmingham, and so on. These lists are off-putting for two reasons. First, they make the writer sound like a control freak. Second, they sound like an exact description of the writer’s ex.
7. NO PHOTO? NO CHANCE
Don’t even think about posting a dating advert without a photo. A picture-less ad says: “I am so ugly I didn’t want to risk a photo,” “I am married,” or “I am on the run from Broadmoor.”
8. ONLY ONE PHOTO? HMM…
Everyone who likes your main photo will want to see more. Not because they can’t get enough of you, but because a single photo is not a reliable indicator of what you look like. Post at least two snaps.
9. DON’T LIE WITH THE CAMERA
An overly flattering photo will backfire. The potential dates come knocking, and then what? You meet, and the blood drains from their face as they realise that your photo was taken 10 years, five stone and 500 wrinkles ago.
10. SEXY SNAPS WILL GET YOU NOWHERE
Whether you’re a man or a woman, a photo with your shirt off makes you look desperate and/or only interested in sex.
11. DON’T FALL IN LUST WITH A PHOTO
Use photos and emails for spotting potential, but don’t start fancying the pants off a two-dimensional image. You may be disappointed in person.
12. YOU MIGHT NOT GET ANY EMAILS
This is a cruel fact of life for online dating beginners, especially men. More men than women advertise on most dating sites, so the girls get the pick of the bunch. Don’t get despondent. Read the profiles that get most views, and pick up tips from them. Tweak your ad and try changing your photos. Also – have you contacted anyone yourself?
13. PLAYING HARD TO GET DOESN’T WORK
Be proactive. You don’t have to write someone an epic love letter (please don’t) – just pick out a couple of appealing points in their ad and write a quick intro email. Likewise, you won’t “keep them keen” by making them wait days for a reply. They’ll find someone else to date. Time moves fast in online dating.
14. YOU DON’T HAVE TO REPLY
Some rookies assume that they must answer every email, even if it’s “thanks, but no thanks”. Don’t bother. “Thanks but no thanks” can feel more hurtful than no reply.
15. MEET QUICKLY, OR STOP EMAILING
Don’t allow an email conversation to drag on for weeks without a date. You may think you’re “connecting”, but you can’t judge chemistry unless you meet up. Six emails in total – not each – is enough to know whether you want a date.
16. DON’T EXPECT TOO MUCH FROM A FIRST DATE
You’re meeting a stranger. Chances are that you won’t fancy each other, or that only one of you will fancy the other. So don’t fantasise too much.
17. IT MAY TAKE MANY DATES TO FIND SOMEONE YOU LIKE
It’s easy to lose faith when your first few dates don’t work out. It’s very unusual for someone to find a good match in their first few attempts. See it all as experience, not as proof that you’re a loser (or that everyone else is a loser). Learn from your bad and boring dates and try again.
18. SPLIT THE BILL
You’re two grown-ups, not a sugardaddy and his gold-digger. Chivalry means being attentive, thoughtful and fair, not paying for all the food.
19. HAVE SEX IF YOU WANT – AND NOT IF YOU DON’T WANT
Having sex doesn’t make you morally corrupt, and it won’t necessarily wreck your chances of a relationship. If you’re both adults, single and you use protection, it’s your choice – but if you’d rather not, that’s your choice too. Never be pushed into sex that you don’t want.
20. CALL THEM THE NEXT DAY
Ignore those rules about waiting three days to get in touch. If you like someone, you have nothing to lose by letting them know. If they are interested, they’ll be happy that you called. If they’re not interested, at least you’ll know – and you can move on to the next date.