Sunday, 8 August 2010

Where do you shave?

If there is one thing that internet dating appears to be achieving, it is the systematic reduction of every social norm and disruption of almost all the courtship etiquette that has been painfully built up since we stopped dragging our female partners by the hair into the back of the darkened cave for a bit of light entertainment after a long day dodging dinosaurs.

The classy classic line above was shared with me by a female friend who received it as a question a whole two emails into a conversation with somebody she had never met (or thankfully will ever have to).

Now I know there are plenty of weirdos out there and goodness knows the internet gives them all a chance to have their five minutes in the 'chat roulette' sun but seriously, where have we got to when somebody feels that an inquiry into the intimate grooming habits of a complete stranger is going to get them into a position where they might be able to make an inspection for themselves?

I'm really not sure where to even begin in apportioning societal blame for all of this. Is it the near ubiquity of porn that suddenly makes this type of enquiry now somehow acceptable? Is it the somewhat anonymous nature of the format that gives people the courage to ask questions they would never dare to raise in person? Is it simply that 6 pints of beer and a late night log on to your dating account are a very very bad idea?

Whatever happened to gentlemanly discourse? What became to civil conversation and slightly coded flirting? What about at least just keeping this kinda kinky stuff to yourself?

It's probably me.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Online Dating - The All You Can Eat Buffet of Romance?

All you can
What is it that is so right and yet oh so wrong with 'All You Can Eat' buffet's? Why do I walk in one door, slightly breathless at the array of food available for my limitless consumption only to walk out another, breathless once again but this time from that nauseating feeling of having tried one too many dishes and not enjoyed a single one of them?

I don't happen to have a functional MRI scanner at my disposal but if I did, I would be happy to bet that the same neural networks that fail us when confronted by a limitless buffet are just as guilty of making most of our online dating experiences equally unsatisfying.

Like your first fateful approach to the buffet spread, logging on to a new dating website immediately rewards you with a bounty of smiley happy faces. These days everyone seems to have worked out at least one pose or camera angle where their chins are minimized, their breasts maximized or whatever it is they feel is their best foot forward, call it your "shit this might end up on Facebook" look. So with fewer visual cues than you would like, you start slowly ploughing your way through a couple of thousand profiles trying hard to avoid too many of the dishes you are not too keen on (the human equivalent of broccoli, tofu salad etc.) and looking for one or two of the things you might actually fancy.

Just as you quickly give up trying to guess what each thing might actually taste like and start randomly adding things to your plate, so too you rapidly tire of trying to read too much into each couplet of generic homespun propaganda (who exactly doesn't like red wine, or walks in the park or travel?) and before you know it you are on your way to a number of coffee / beer / or God help us 'virtual' dates.

You take your food back, you sit down / You meet, you sit down.

You begin to chew / You begin to chat

... and slowly your eyes start to glaze.

You are no longer even really tasting the food you have chosen / talking to your date

Mentally you are now back at the buffet cart / dating site, reconsidering your options - evaluating if prawns really were a good idea and what might the chicken that looked a little past its prime might actually have tasted like...

Rather than sit there and enjoy the good company of another human being, you are mentally ranking and filing the individual in a hypothetical list of maybe's, could haves and should haves.

And what is worse???

.... If you look very closely you can see that your date is doing the very same thing.

Shallow? Undoubtedly. Spoiled for choice? Most probably. A real problem with dating random strangers met on websites? I think so.

But then, it's probably me.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

A public blog about my personal life........ Is this really such a good idea?

A damn fine question and one even I am not sure will have been answered to my satisfaction by the end of the post but here goes. So why put digital pen to optical paper about such personal things?

Well first off, I like to write and have been looking for a new topic to wax lyrical about for a while now. I have written quite a bit about serious topics before but thought that perhaps it might be interesting to take up the challenge of trying to look at a slightly less heavy topic (though of course what could be more serious than love and loss) from a slightly different perspective.

Secondly, there seems to be one recurring theme, more than any other, that gets my friends creased over in gales of laughter … my love life. As I traverse my mid 30’s still single while most of my friends are safely coupled up (and as yet have not started the dreaded decoupling) I can't make out if I am just unlucky in love or if I have just enjoyed/suffered a slightly more complex and varied romantic life than most.

Perhaps for some as yet to be defined psycho-analytic reason, I seem to have the most off the wall, “that never happened, did it?” experiences during the course of multiple attempts at charting true love's romantic course (or whatever the hell you might call the voyage that I appear to be on).

Finally seeing as most of the stories and related observations I wish to share here cause me little or no pain (at least they don't any more) and seem to give so many others such amusement, I thought it would be a shame not to document a few of them more fully and see what kind of reaction I might get.

None of the above is quite a good enough reason to make my whole personal life totally public of course so you will have to excuse my (hopefully successful) attempts to remain anonymous. This not only protects me (I am still hoping to meet somebody special after all) but also all those poor unfortunates who will unwittingly star in one or two of my better stories.

Overall, I would like this to be mostly fun, occasionally thought provoking, sometimes poetic but never ever pathetic (if I get there, please God let me know and I will stop immediately).

Regardless of how much I may mock or raise an eyebrow to the attitudes and behaviours of others who may feature in this blog, I am more than aware that it is I who plays the recurring role.

When all is said and done, it is probably me.