11. Take myself out of my comfort zone once a month.
Online dating. Oh yes.
Being single has a couple of downsides. I’ve found myself at an age where my friends are starting to settle down with their proper jobs and their long-term boyfriends, and I don’t have either. I realised I was dedicating plenty of time to the former, but zero time to the latter. It’s far less important, and could be… inopportune, to meet someone right now, but it would be great to have a bit of variety in my social life.
My aforementioned friends are likely to spend their quality time with their aforementioned boyfriends, while the most exciting thing I’ve done in the past week is belt out the Honeyz classic ‘End of the Line’ at karaoke. I’m tired of catching up over dinner and being home by half past nine! I want to go for cocktails, see new movies, go out dancing, go to the zoo, see new places… I have goals to achieve, people!
So I have joined a dating site. I do not expect to meet my soul mate – partly because I don’t believe in them – but I would like to have someone to drag along as my date to events that need them. It’s coming up to Christmas, so surely a ceilidh will be on the cards?
If we say that meeting someone in real life has the equivalent level of impact as a quarter-page advert in a local paper, online dating is a prime-time TV broadcast. That’s terrifying, but it’s also the whole point. It means you get to meet, or at least speak to, far more people than you would ever meet traditionally.
There are a couple of things I’m finding awkward so far: not replying to people, but I reasoned that you wouldn’t speak to everyone you meet in real life; and admitting that I joined a dating site. There’s a stigma attached to online dating, which put me off setting up a profile. I was trying to work out what it is, and it is two-fold.
Firstly, some people seem to think if a guy can’t get a girl in real life, he’ll use online dating. This is true, but some people imply there must be something wrong with him. Let’s put a pin in that right away: I’m now online dating, and there sure as hell isn’t anything wrong with me!
Secondly, it is understood to be embarrassing to admit that you’re single and looking. I bet some of you will find familiar the whole ‘So do you have a boyfriend? No? Aw, well I’m sure you’ll find someone soon!’ conversation. It’s ridiculous, of course, to imply that everybody needs somebody else, and they require pity if they do not have them. Society, literature, movies, culture – everything puts so much emphasis on being part of a couple, yet God forbid actively searching for another person.
In a Jane Austen novel I’d be the daughter who was a burden to her parents. My gran asks me every time I see her if I’ve met any nice boys. When I went out this weekend, mum told me to find a nice man. The Working Woman’s mum asked if I’d be interested in a blind date with her friend’s son. I like that everyone’s interested in pairing me off, and it would be nice to provide them with some gossip, so I’ve decided to give my luck a helping hand. As I said, I’m not looking for my so-called Mr Right; I’d just quite like to find someone who’ll come to the zoo with me.
How about you? Have you tried online dating? Do you think there’s still a stigma attached to the whole idea?