There are plenty of things that I’m not an expert in. For example, I can’t speak Russian. I’m also a reasonably lousy dancer. Hand me a unicycle and I’ll hand it back, shamefaced. Leave me in the woods overnight, I’ll get eaten by squirrels.
However, I have been on a lot of internet dates. Which – somewhat embarrassingly – makes me a kind of expert in dating. Or at least an expert in going on bad dates.
Many people ask me (usually from the comfortable distance of established, secure relationships) what on earth internet dating’s like, whether it’s as hideous as they imagine.
But that’s kind of missing the point, because we all have different ideas of fun. I might not enjoy going to see a historical society re-enact the Battle of Cheriton, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with re-enactments; it merely means that I’m not the right person to appreciate them. Similarly, internet dating can be brilliant for a certain personality type, but it’s hell for many other people.
So, if you’ve ever wondered what internet dating’s like (without being so curious that you’d just get online and try it for yourself), then you can take my deeply scientific and thoroughly academically researched (*cough*) quiz!
Yes! It’s time to find out whether you’d enjoy internet dating, or whether the whole experience will crush your spirit, gut your faith in mankind and grind your self-esteem into fine dust, leaving you a shrunken husk of the person you used to be.
Answer yes or no to the following statements, depending on whether you agree with them or not:
1) Rejection never bothers me; it’s their loss and there’s plenty more fish!
2) It’s OK to fib a bit (or even a lot) in your dating profile, you’ve got to show yourself in the best possible light to get a date in the first place.
3) Flirting’s harmless fun, it doesn’t mean anything and so I don’t take it seriously.
4) I’m happy with the way I look.
5) I’m comfortable juggling several budding relationships while I figure out which one’s actually worth sticking with. Similarly, I’m fine with the possibility that my dates are pursuing other partners.
6) It’s all about that spark. If you don’t have it on a first date, there’s no point having a second.
Time to tot up your score!
If you answered “Yes” to everything, then CONGRATULATIONS! Internet dating is perfect for you! Why are you wasting time here when you could be charming potential smooch buddies?
If you answered “No” to at least one question, then, internet dating probably isn’t for you. You may well find it one long disappointment party, its guestlist crammed with liars, weirdos and narcissists.
This isn’t to say that internet dating doesn’t work – I’ve been to numerous weddings that began online – but if you don’t have a rhino hide, and a bucket of patience, then it can be a gruelling experience that’ll chip away at your confidence. There’s nothing more disheartening than an endless procession of first dates, where no-one wants to go on a second date with you.
If you’re not thick-skinned, you can easily start thinking that there’s something wrong with you. Maybe you’re just not attractive, funny or interesting enough. The steady drip of disappointment can corrode you.
So, what camp do I fall into? Actually, when I started, I didn’t realise that I was absolutely the wrong sort of person to go internet dating. Too insecure, too shy, too hopeful.
But over the course of a year, I began to change. I accepted that I’d go on perfectly nice dates with people, but never hear from them again. I lost that quiver of hope when heading to meet someone new; it probably wouldn’t lead to anything so why get excited? I stopped thinking of potential matches as people, and started seeing them instead as commodities; merely a collection of attributes.
I began to harden.
And that’s when I realised that I needed to take a break from internet dating, before I turned into someone I didn’t recognise.
So. Best of luck if you do decide to dive into internet dating. Just be sure that, when you’re looking for love, you don’t lose sight of yourself.