Between the covers
With the demise of maypole dancing and dowries, how does a modern girl find her altar ego? As a singleton I went on so many blind dates, I should have been given a free dog. Love may be blind, but dates should not be. By the entrée you’ll have discovered that you’re completely incompatible. When talk invariably turns to astrology and he asks if you’re Aries or Capricorn, you’ll be tempted to tell him that your sign is “Do Not Disturb”.
With match-making by friends proving so haphazard, millions of us are relying on the computer to play cupid. One in five relationships now begins online. The media abounds with stories of happy marriages which started with the click of a mouse. But my friends are quite catty about mouse-pad pairings. Judging by their experiences, internet dating can be like going to a real estate office and asking for a decent, three-bedroom brick bungalow in a quiet neighbourhood but being endlessly shown dingy bed-sits, next to a noisy abattoir. Internet dating turns you into a marital limbo dancer – your expectations keep getting lower until you’re scraping the bottom of the biological barrel.
Eventually, after you weed out the cross-dressers, necrophiliacs and those blokes who possess swastika pyjamas, secret love bunkers and the exact knowledge of how and when the world is going to end, you correspond by email. “Do you have children? What are your favourite things to do, see, read? What do you do for a living?”... If he doesn’t list his occupation on his tax return as “Crazed Loner”, you must then decide whether it’s worth the embarrassment of an encounter.
The internet dating rule is to arrange to meet for coffee, somewhere public, so you can leave quickly in case his opening line is “Does this look infected to you?” or “I’m not just a Scientologist, I also sell genital wart cream.” If this happens, excuse yourself to powder your nose… preferably in another café – in another city. It is also imperative to never meet anyone if you haven’t seen a photo first. Mind you, few potential Romeos even remotely resemble their headshots. In real life, you’ve seen better heads on a beer.
Tinder, a new dating app for phones, promises more accurate coupling by matching people via their Facebook profiles. The first step is to sign in with your Facebook ID, which gives Tinder your name, age, photos and sexual preference. You’re immediately shown the face of an available person in your vicinity. You then simply swipe right if they’re hot, and left if they’re not. If both parties like each other, a private chat box appears, allowing you to set up a date. Tinder is the fastestgrowing free dating app in the US. One year after its launch, Tinder’s users have swipe-rated each other 13 billion times, with 2 million matches happening each day. But too much choice can be overwhelming. Tinder reminds me of those bulk warehouse Superstores – all quantity, not quality.
If Tinder’s relationship roulette sounds too superficial, why not try a more low-tech, old-fashioned, reliable method of meeting men – bookshop browsing (before they close them all down). First off, if a bloke is even in a bookshop, that’s a good sign that he’s erudite and interesting. Also, the section in which he’s browsing operates as a kind of psychological shorthand. If he’s flicking through a manual on Hitler memorabilia or a D.I.Y. guide to coffee enemas, forget it. But if he’s fingering an Austen or a Bronte… or perhaps The Kama Sutra – Advanced, then it could be worth slipping between his covers. After a lot of conversing. You see, unlike quickie phone app connections, a bookish bloke is less likely to end every single sentence with a proposition.