Having had a degree of success from online dating over the last year, I’ve decided that I’m an expert and keep trying to impart my knowledge on anyone who’ll listen. Here are some quick tips for any potential daters out there.
- First off, internet dating is great. You should give it a try, what’s the worst that could happen? Don’t answer that.
- Don’t pay for a dating website if you’re too chicken to start messaging people. I handed over £30 to the first site I signed up to and then didn’t use it. That’s money I could have spent buying alcohol to drink alone in my flat. What a waste.
- You don’t have to pay for online dating at all – there are free sites that are worth trying out first. OKCupid is a well-designed site with a reasonable number of nice, normal, attractive people. PlentyOfFish is hideous in terms of the site’s appearance and usability but is, I think, the biggest free one out there. Unfortunately the sheer quantity of fish means that the quality is lower and you have to sift through quite a few ‘interesting’ profiles to find the good ones.
- Everyone I know who has used Guardian Soulmates says it’s good, the obvious benefit being that the danger of finding yourself on a date with a Tory is really, really low. However, bear in mind that there’s no point being on the paid sites if you don’t pay as you can’t send messages.
- Try to avoid using ‘wink’, ‘like’, ‘meet me’, ‘favourite’ or whatever feature the site you’re using has to achieve the same as a ‘poke’ on Facebook (ie, nothing). Make the effort and send a message.
- If you see a profile you like, send the person a message then move on. Do not spend a whole evening crafting the perfect message while planning out your lives together because there’s a good chance they won’t reply and you’ll be gutted.
- Struggling to find the courage to contact people? Have a drink and then try again. Repeat as needed.
Right, that’s enough for now, I have a date to get ready for.
Players: 2 (though you’re likely to get quite a few messages from people who think the game is better played with 3)
Ages: You decide
Vaguely interesting fact: There is a dating site called Love Horse. Amazing.
Verdict: With a little bit of effort you can find yourself on some fun dates with nice people you wouldn’t have otherwise met. And there’s also the potential that you’ll meet someone awesome. Good luck.
A few weeks ago I went speed dating for the first time. Prior to this, the only person I know who had been speed dating was a colleague who described it to us the next day as “a train wreck”. However, this seemed to be more a reflection on the men in attendance than on the concept itself and so, as men aren’t part of the equation for me, I bit the bullet and signed up for a Pink Date event at Retro Bar.
The format of the evening is pretty simple – you rock up, are given a name tag and a score sheet and told where to sit. You then have slightly awkward conversation with the person sitting opposite you and then after three minutes a whistle blows, they move on, you scribble down some notes and then start having the exact same conversation with someone new. When you get home you log onto the website and say which of the people you want to go out with. If they want to go out with you too, your email addresses are magically exchanged.
I was pleasantly surprised by how fun the evening was and how normal most of the people there were. While I didn’t meet my soul mate on this occasion, I might go again sometime and would definitely recommend it to others. If you are thinking about trying it, I offer the following tips based on my experience:
- If you are going on your own, arrange to meet a friend beforehand for a pep talk and some dutch courage (the lion’s share of a bottle of wine worked for me).
- Make detailed notes about the people you meet. The next day it was really hard to remember who was who when all I had to go on were comments like “red trousers”, “borderline chavy” or “Iceland”.
- Some of the three minute dates will seem to go on for hours (not in a good way). Might be worth preparing some hairdresser-style small talk to make these less painful.
- Before you go, try to figure out the correct response to statements like “I’m training to be an embalmer.”
- Don’t get too drunk. If you end up going on a date with someone you met at speed dating it is hugely embarrassing when they remember what you do, where you work and where you live and you can’t recall a single thing about them. This is even more embarrassing when it turns out they have quite a memorable job, for example (entirely hypothetical of course) , playwright.
Speed dating with Pink Date at Retro Bar
Players: 32 in all, I met 17.
Ages: Mostly late 20s and early 30s
Vaguely interesting fact: It’s only £1 extra to make a single into a double at Retro Bar. A very difficult offer to refuse.
Verdict: Turns out speed dating isn’t just for socially inadequate losers anymore (that, or I’m just not very self-aware) and is quite an enjoyable way to spend an evening. At £20 a go Pink Date isn’t cheap but the night was well run and attended by lots of lovely people.