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The 6 Rules of Online Dating

Article written for Sabotage Times in April 2011 (A long, long time ago...!)

Online dating can be a minefield of potential faux pas. Here's one man's guide to making the most of it.

I’ve recently closed my online dating account. I’ve initiated my last virtual flirtation.

Aimlessly browsed profiles late at night for the last time…

It’s like the end of a relationship in its own right.

You see, I’d been doing it a while. Like internet porn, you don’t realize what a commitment it's become until inevitably, it comes to a close. At the last count, I’d spent over £300 on maintaining an online profile and been on more than 50 dates. Now, assuming a mean average of around sixty pounds a date (£100 if we got as far as dinner, £30 without) that’s an eye watering three grand on my dating pastime in just under five years. That’s nearly as much as smoking. And more than enough for a gym membership.

We’re talking a proper hobby here.

In a career divided by a relationship with someone from a dating site three years ago, there have been the good (60 percent, roughly), the ‘nice-but-nos’ (30 percent) and a conservative 10 percent on the ‘Pull the rip cord is it actually legal to lie THAT MUCH when agreeing to meet someone’ girls.

So what does one look forward to when taking up this new found hobby? Well, on the whole, a hell of a lot more fun that sitting in the pub with your mates and associated football fans shouting at a plasma screen whilst getting robbed thirty quid a round for lager. You get to spend at least part on an evening with someone you never would have met otherwise. And, because of the online profile you’ve been gleefully eyeing up for the previous week, there’s at least a chance that she’s nice to look at. And because the sites allow you to chat via email (and in some cases Messenger) you should be fairly confident they have a couple of GCSEs to their name and aren’t some dribbling chav looking for a sugar daddy to rescue them and eight kids from their council house.

Yes - on the whole, it’s a fun evening out. And sometimes one with potential.

“So, what of this potential of which you speak?” I hear you cry. (Come on, anyone reading this far is surely inquisitive to find out if people ever find the love of their lives, or at least get their jollies, and it’s a fair question).

The answer, I’m afraid, is varied.

Looking back on some of my own experiences, There’s been everything from tears (theirs – I said I didn’t think we were compatible after an hour) to fears (mine – when she came back to my place and put on my Dinner Jacket before leaning out of my second story window.

It was 8.30 PM…

So it can be a mixed bag, all in all.

A lot more fun that sitting in the pub with your mates and associated football fans shouting at a plasma screen whilst getting robbed thirty quid a round for pissy lager.

Online dating has lost its taboo status. No seriously, it has. Just look at the stats, glance in the media or eves drop any number of pub conversations. Due to its success, growth has been exponential over the last five years. It’s self perpetuating, since all it takes is one girl or guy to find love and tell ten friends over a glass of wine.

The next day they’re all at it.

With that in mind, there’s a decent chance you’ve either dated online yourself or considered doing so. In which case, writing your own profile (and reading between the lines of others) is your first step.

For yourself, it works something like this:-

Age – Tell the truth here. There’s nothing worse for a girl than finding out the guy they’re meeting is the wrong side of thirty five rather than the right side of thirty. And while we’re here, on the age range you’re looking for? Use the standard rule of half your age plus seven. It’s a little creepy for a nineteen year old girl to get emailed by a thirty year old guy, no matter how hot she looks in that holiday photo. And remember, other girls can probably see the age range you’re looking at – so make sure your upper limit is at least your own age, if not a couple of years older. You don’t have to date them if you don’t want to, but it makes you look like you’d at least consider it. And again, makes you less of a creep.

The truth is, you can’t afford to be seen to be ageist, even by those looking for a sugar daddy. Look, no-one said that online dating was an egalitarian affair. Unless by egalitarian they meant ‘Everyone lies as much as each other’.

In which case, it is.

Height – Again, tell the truth. Yes, most girls will eventually admit their dream man is six foot plus, but if you’re five seven and lie, your dating career will last as long as your trousers. Ultimately, you won’t get too far by lying.

Shape – See height, but on this one you can possibly drop one level. If you’re average, put athletic. If you’re tubby, put average etc. Girls do this, but they often drop two levels. It’s the nature of the game.

If you enter the world of online dating, the best advice I can give to guys is to approach lots of women you like the look of, try to make them laugh, don’t wait more than three emails to ask them out. And be honest, if at all possible – it makes life much more simple.

To girls? Not all guys who date online are dicks, so please don’t assume the worst. And stop lying in your profiles – I know guys do the same but it only works right up to the nanosecond after you meet your prospective date, which is no good for either of you.

Oh and by the way, girls are at least as shallow as guys when it comes to judging on looks alone. Just a heads up.

Finally, and to both sexes, if you even remotely like each other, don’t have sex on date one. Unless that’s your entire objective, in which case play safe and go for it.

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