Following the success of my recent relationship advice column I've decided expound on something I have probably had longer involvement with than most: internet dating. As an aside, the positive response to my relationship advice was slightly disturbing to me. How bad have inter-gender relations gotten if what I say makes sense?
Internet dating, on the other hand is something I feel I can actually claim expertise on. My first success in this area was unintentional and actually predates internet dating as such. Back in the mid-90s I did meet a lovely lady without the benefit of any organised dating sites, through the magic of text-only Internet Relay Chat (IRC). I have a suspicion this relationship happened (and worked for a while) mainly because neither of us were in the chatroom with the intention of picking anyone up.
I was such a ground-breaker that my first-born was featured in a British net magazine back in '97 because the writer was pretty sure this was the first internet baby she had heard of. Definition of internet baby: a baby that wouldn't have happened if the internet hadn't existed, i.e. the parents wouldn't have met without the net. Since the end of that relationship I have had a few less than spectacularly successful relationships launched via online contacts but, more recently, have found the love of my life through an organised dating site.
So I know of what I speak. Listen up chilluns:
Rule number one for males: Don't be an arsehole. When I tell some guys this, they think I mean they have to be smooth and charming, maybe go so far as to write love poetry. Those things will help but I mean that advice literally: don't be an arsehole. If all you do is raise your behaviour above the level of a gutter-dwelling fuckwit then you are ahead of about 97% of your competition. I have no idea what sort of a sad loser you have to be to behave the way the majority of males do in online forums (maybe it's just the most visible ones, not an actual majority) and I don't want to know.
True story number 1: I found out after spending several weeks in a particular chat room that a number of females had assumed I was female despite the fact a male icon appeared next to my nickname. Their reason for assuming this was that I had never tried to hit on them. When they found out I was actually male they got real interested in me. TIP: guys, if you can go at least three sentences without saying "how big are your boobs" it will work in your favour.
Rule number one for females: This rule can also be applicable to men but women are at the most risk. Don't say anything to someone online that you wouldn't say in a bar to a drunk, fat, ugly, hairy, smelly degenerate who was clearly an axe murderer. Most of the stories are online predators are grossly exaggerated but it doesn't pay to take risks. It's really straightforward, never give out identifying information, never say where you live and if/when you plan to meet do it somewhere public and make sure somebody else knows what you are doing. Oh, and make sure the person you are meeting knows you are taking these precautions too. It isn't being rude - it's being smart.
Rule number two for males: Be clear on what you want. If you can't handle smokers, say so. If you don't want someone with radically different political views, say so. And keep it simple - don't bother with Playboy pick-up lines. Believe it or not fellahs, every woman is an individual. What one thinks is a smooth line, another thinks makes you look like a dork. If you stay true to yourself at least you will be attracting the right sort of woman - one who might actually be interested in you. And be honest about your intentions: if you are still playing the field don't spin some shit about "looking for your soul mate".
Rule number two for females: remember that men will do anything for sex. Don't be a cocktease but don't put out as a matter of course. I think it's possible for a good relationship to come out of a first date that ends with sex but I don't think it's the most likely outcome. If it's what you truly want, go for it. But don't have sex just because you think the man won't stick around if you don't. Trust me, the guys who say that are exactly the ones who won't stick around after you have sex with them.
God, I sound like my mother.
Unisex rule number one: Don't lie. If you are overweight, say so. Use your real age. Use a recent photo. And those studio/makeover pictures scare the hell out of me. Half the time they make you look horrible and plastic and if they look good, well, you know the person doesn't really look like that. I know lots of people think if they "fudge the truth a little" they'll get noticed by someone who will ultimately look past their flaws. Bullshit. No successful relationship can be based on a lie.
Unisex rule number two: If you're not interested say so. Politely is nice, but clearly is important. Don't make up bullshit and don't simply stop responding. Do someone the courtesy of letting them know and don't leave them in doubt. "I don't think it would work out" or something similar is sufficient - you don't need to get as specific as "that hair growing out of your nose freaked me out." Saying you are being honest when you are actually being cruel means you are cruel, hypocritical and delusional. And if someone says they aren't interested in you, accept it and move on. Don't get needy/whiny/stalkery. The sooner you let that person go the sooner you can find someone who is interested.
True story number two: To round off, something that should have gone in the previous relationship rules post but I forgot. Although I think this is more a female tendency than a male one (I've certainly had it done to me and I haven't actually seen a man do it) I'm making this a unisex rule. Don't tell you partner what they do and don't like. How it happened to me was I ordered a particular meal at a restaurant and my (then) girlfriend (now ex) said "You don't like that."
I know what I fucking like OK?
It's perfectly OK to say "I didn't think you liked that" or "I thought you told me you didn't like that" or even "Do you know what's in that?" (I had to save a friend from ordering Steak Tartar at a French restaurant once - he had no idea it was raw mince). But if you say "You don't like that" you are clearly saying "You are a moron. What the hell are you thinking? Clearly I need to control every aspect of your life and never let you make another decision again."
That my dear readers is a one-way ticket to dumpsville - population: you. (Thank you Homer Simpson)