How enlightened we are, how open-minded and unprejudiced: we can now have civilised debates about the pros and cons of political self-determination for Arab sates that may want to elect fundamental religious leaders. We can positively urge gay sportsmen (and women), to come out publically and consign yet one more taboo to the annals of history.
We can even write Jedi under ‘religion’ on the census form without fear of oppression from The Federation. Surely though our greatest achievement in the pursuit of total tolerance is the end of persecution to a group who previously had carried the greatest of social stigma; I am of course referring to those who use internet dating sites.
According to researchers at Stanford University, online dating is increasingly replacing more traditional methods as the preferred medium for singles to meet new people; and let’s be honest, they should know. The correlation is simple: as dating sites become more popular, the embarrassment associated with using them decreases.
For those interested in surfing for love online, the water has never been safer. As with any good swimming pool however, (I’m not sure this metaphor has any more legs), there are a few simple rules it’s worth noting. And ‘no heavy petting’ isn’t one of them.
1) Don’t Shoot The Messenger
Whereas conventional romances tend to start with a chat up line or conversation, internet liaisons begin with a message. Think of a prospective date like a prospective job: good ones are likely to be inundated with applications. But whilst a generic cutting letter won’t cut it, the schoolyard rules of not trying too hard, (or at least not being seen to), still apply. Try and find the middle ground between standing out from the crowd and portraying yourself as the life and soul of every party going.
Oh and anyone who describes themselves as crazy, out of the ordinary, chirpy or kooky is, more often than not, likely to be an acronym of the aforementioned words.
2) Manage Your Expectations
Romance isn’t dead. But just because knights in shining armour and damsels in distress, have so far avoided extinction, doesn’t mean they’re ten a penny either. As a bare minimum you should at least try and meet the person you’ve been infatuating over once in person. This way you can rule out the possibility that it’s all just been an elaborate hoax co-ordinated from you housemate’s laptop.
3) Keep the Sabbath
Saturday night is good for a lot of things: dancing according to the film Saturday Night Fever; fighting, according to Elton John and dancing again according to Whigfield. Under no circumstances however should a Saturday night be used as the trialling ground for a first date.
Have a bad date on a week night and what have you lost really? The latest plot instalment from a soap so uninspiring that when you come to catch-up the day after, it already feels like you’re watching a repeat? Lose a Saturday however and you’ve lost the week’s silver lining and pot of gold all in one and what’s more you won’t get another stab at it for the next 7 days.
4) Pick Your Venue Wisely
Know a great little pub so jam packed full of character you half expect Mickey Mouse to be glass collecting? Put your favourite song on the jukebox on as you walk in do they? Rustle you up a quick snack even though they’ve officially stopped serving will they?
Well do yourself a favour then and keep schtum. That is unless you want to walk in there and find that girl who didn’t laugh at any of your jokes and made disparaging comments about your favourite shirt drinking in there with the gym instructor.
5) Beware The Difficult Second Date
A difficult one this: you’ve successfully negotiated the first four steps, so successfully in fact that you’ve even managed to secure a second date. Problems over? Well, not always. Often the anxiety associated with a first date causes the parties involved to outperform. All that nervous energy manifests itself into a flurry of well-pitched compliments, witty one liners and fascinating anecdotes.
Come the inevitable reunion however, it quickly becomes clear that you’ve set the bar too high. Neither of you are able to reproduce the repartee you made seem so effortless first time around. You’re unable to divert attention from the awkward silences that ensue with the story about that time you led a group of German tourists on an impromptu conga line round the library, because you already told it first time round. Quite simply you’ve overplayed you hand and so have they. And in lieu of being able to deliver what was a quite frankly an unsustainably high quality of date discussion, it all ends a bit anti-climatically; and not in the good way.
I’m not sure there’s much to offer by way of advice here; you’ll just know when it’s happened, which it never has to me.