Be­tween the cov­ers

The Advertiser - SA Weekend - - OPENERS - Has in­ter­net dat­ing worked for you? saweek­[email protected]

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.

Twit­ter @kathylette


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