Today I welcome back to the blog my friend Kay, she also wrote a great post for me a couple of weeks ago about her experience of parenting alone. Today she is writing about her experience of online dating, a journey I have been following on social media and I know it’s been an experience to say the least!
Online Dating: The Single Parent Edition
Having been single for 16 years, I have periodically thought that online dating might be a good way to dip my toe back in the dating pool. And, periodically, I have signed up for a new account with one of the many online dating apps. In my first foray into the pursuit of a potential new beau, I signed up with the innocuous sounding “Plenty of Fish” (POF as it’s known to its many millions of users).
It was fun, exciting, and had me feeling somewhat optimistic. The first hurdle was picking a profile pic(s) – I do not consider myself to be photogenic, nor Gisele Bündchen’s doppelgänger, so I fretted and took about 312 selfies, waded through all the filters, and eventually thought one was ok enough. If I thought that was the hard part, there was worse to come. Filling out the blank profile.
POF has this annoying minimum character limit, so you cannot just say “fun, outdoorsy and low maintenance”. No. You have to write a flipping essay, selling yourself, as you would a beloved pair of shoes on eBay!
That done, re-done, and edited 5 trillion times, you save this, and start wondering if this is the worst idea you have ever had, before remembering that egg-yolk yellow pencil skirt and oversized shirt combo you wore, once, out in public. Like the Scottish Poundland Big Bird.
POF also offers what they call a “POF Chemistry Predictor” – ostensibly a bunch of pseudo-psychology questions, meant to measure self-confidence, family orientation, self-control, social dependency / openness, and easygoingness (which, not being an actual word, is an indicator of the kind of crap they ask).
Once your profile is set up and active, you can either wait for the men/women to come “fishing” or be proactive and cast your own net. Filter your potentials according to various preferences, and start browsing the profiles. POF is one of the free dating sites/apps, and this has its pluses and minuses: you are not committed to paying if you find it’s really not the site for you, but equally, it being free attracts a large percentage of people only looking for this weekend’s shag. But hey, that might be what you’re looking for. I wasn’t, but I am a self-confessed hopeless romantic. I’m not proud of it!
I did chat to a lot of guys on POF, but the theme seemed to be that they would message you, then within three messages being exchanged, ask for your number, where you lived and when you were free. Wading through that did get to be exhausting. I did meet one guy, we hit it off and decided to meet for lunch. He was gorgeous, charming, shared my sarcastic sense of humour, and we started seeing each other. It didn’t last long, but he is still a good friend today (some 15 years later).
I gave up on POF: for me, it felt like a meat market. And I really believed I wanted more, and there must be a place to find more.
Over the intervening years, I veered between being resigned to live out the rest of my days alone, with my dogs (& worryingly, a growing number of them), and giving online dating another try. Other sites, some free, some paid. Most recently, I signed up to OKCupid. It’s free, but if you want to see who “likes” your profile or sends you an initial message, you have to sign up to a subscription. I decided £19.99 for a month’s trial was reasonable.
The profile set up is much like POF, but it uses the swipe feature best known from Tinder – you swipe left on a profile to “pass” or right to “like”. You can base your swipes solely on profile pics, or click on their profile to find out more first. Interestingly, when you receive a message from someone who likes you, you can immediately tell if they’ve bothered to read not only your profile, but crucially what you’re looking for. For me, that was – monogamous, straight, single, aged 40-58, for short or long term dating.
I recently made a twitter thread of the messages received in a few days – where it was blatantly obvious this person had not bothered to read my profile, but was also not used to interacting with other humans.
No, Derek from Watford, I am not up for you popping round to mine with a bottle of cheap cava and a frozen pizza, never having met you! Also – I DO NOT DRINK. It says it on my profile, which you clearly did not deign to read. Pass.
And there was the guy who not only offended me by his suggestion of meeting up for some no strings bum fun, but his complete disregard for spelling and grammar! Hard pass.
Anyway, my one month subscription was up for renewal yesterday, and despite it having given me and my friends enough material for many, many jokes, I decided, once again, that maybe online dating is not for me.
But, who knows. Never say never, eh? Until then, I have designated twitter to be my new hunting ground, and am posting overly-filtered, sultry profile pics and an enigmatic bio. If that, plus my continuous tweets updating the world on my levels of boredom, procrastination and which tv shows I’m binge watching, doesn’t land me my ideal man, at least I’ve got my dogs. Do you want to see some pictures?
You can find Kay online:
Thanks so much for your post Kay. I’ve never done online dating before simply because I met my husband and uni and have never needed to. But I know quite a few friends that have had interesting experiences to say the least!