To Date or Not To Date? The 6 Guys You Will Meet Online

A.K.A “There’s comedy in tragedy, right?” My reflections on 6 months of actively dating in London.

Last year, I decided to ragequit dating. It was a period of big change in my London life. After my period of self-imposed solitude was over, I had the energy to try again. I set up an OkCupid profile. I had previously tried Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge — this time, I went all in with OkCupid, where there’s the space to write out information, see a few images, and filter your “matches” with at least a few key criteria. That would be a much better way to get to know nice people, right?

Wrong. In England and Wales, more than half the population is single. London, if you click that wee click, lights up in purple with its concentration of singledom. With so many single people in one place, surely dating is a breeze, right?

HAHA. How cute.

If you thought the London property market was utterly horrifying, welcome to the wonderful world of swipe left, swipe right. Everything (including the OkCupid app) is gamified. Is it because that’s what is easiest in our busy lives, or is it because dating is such a shitfest, they have to find a way to make it more aloof and impersonal so half the population doesn’t implode from the emotional stress? I really can’t tell.

In this time since making the account, I have gone on “dates” with precisely 7 people from OkCupid, an “almost date” with 1 person from OkCupid (still significant to mention, you’ll see), and 2 dates with people from the ‘real world’ (what’s even real anymore? But I digress…). That’s a neat 10 between January and end of June. I went on repeat dates with 5 of these people. That included 3 dates with 2 of them, and a whopping 8 dates with 1 one of them… Still, nothing. I thought I might find someone who really wanted to know me, or understand me. I didn’t. I rolled the dice dozens of times, reaching out to dozens of people online. Still, nothing. What went wrong?

Maybe it’s just me. Or maybe it’s because of these 6 guys who you will absolutely meet online.

The Total Nutters/Arsehats

Let’s just get this one over right away. People online range from the deranged to the genuinely lovely, but when you’re in the young female category, chances are you’ll encounter a lot more of the former than the latter at first. This is because, apparently, there is a whole subset of middle aged men who think they’ve got a shot with a 20-something and decide it’s defs within their remit to try. Generally with pretty unnecessary, fucked up language. Society, what the actual?

There was one guy whose opening line was just: “The things I would do to you.” When I challenged him, “Yeah? Like?” No response. Thought so. All bark, no balls.

The Nutters though, can be at least a good laugh. This guy messaged a dear friend of mine the following:

THE FUTURE AND HEAVEN! My gosh, better take this guy seriously.

A week later, in my inbox:

Same guy! What goes through a person’s mind when they decide to send that for starters? I really am curious.

I mean “Just marry me” is definitely the opening line every girl dreams of. It’s unfortunate that I apparently don’t believe in marriage but luckily it will all work out just fine. Phew.

Thank you, Nutter, for reminding me how lols online dating can be.

The Secret Polyamorist

Here’s where my “almost date” comes in. I’d arranged to meet a guy who seemed artistic, cultured. His profile listed “Straight, Man, Single, 180cm”. He liked classy books, classy art, classy music. We chatted, then arranged to meet for a drink. Before meeting, I checked back on his profile, wanting to be sure. Scrolling absently through his answered questions…

One stood out. “Would you date someone who was already in a committed relationship with someone else?” He’d answered, “Yes, even in secret.” A little troubled, I decided to message. Here’s the exchange:

Him: “I’m non-monogamous so sometimes those questions are not really written in a way I can answer clearly.”
Me: “Ah. That clarifies.”
Him: “Sorry I thought that was clear on my profile; is that cool? Still want a drink?”

No, not cool. I went back and analysed every inch of that profile. NO WHERE does he list himself as non-monogamous or even imply that that is his thing. In the section “What I’m looking for” he simply said he wanted someone who wouldn’t be “closed minded”. Mate, those are just not the same things. I’m pretty open minded — I’ll happily try bouldering, or listen to random shit music you first heard in a back alley of Shoreditch, if you really want me to. I’ve done all sorts on a whim. Totally up for that. But here’s a tip for life: you can’t just surprise someone into having an open relationship with you.

The Manchild (Who Needs You)

There are so many men out there looking for the kind of girl who will turn them into the man they always hoped to become. Of course, looking for a partner who will bring out the best in you is important, and reasonable. But the guy who is dull as all hell and hoping for an adventurous lady to make up for it? The guy who’s basically never done a thing for himself, but hoping for a surrogate mother figure to guide him? Yeah, unfortunately I seem to attract those types.

Here’s the thing gents: if you’ve never held down a steady job in your life, you still rely on mum and dad to fund your lifestyle, you’ve never travelled, know nothing about the world, can’t drive, can’t cook, think it’s okay to just quit anything mildly difficult, and still think you’re a ‘catch’, well, I have some news for you… You’re just another Manchild, hoping you can find a more luminous lady to make you look legitimate. Please, kindly, grow the fuck up.

The Super Passive Dater

Let’s be real: everyone doing online dating is dating like 25 people at once. Or however many people they can get to agree to date them. This is a fact of the deal, a part of the game. But the guy who just can’t be bothered to invest a bit more effort into any particular one…Who finds having to make a decision between dates a hassle…

Time wasters, ahoy! Online dating is actually super time consuming, and I, for one, would appreciate not being subject to your never ending dithering. If you’re not interested, go away. If you are interested, make a modicum of effort. Simples. I know it can take time to get to know someone, but these types tend to blow hot and cold for ages, with no intention of really trying to get to know you enough to make a choice. It’s just up to you to decide when to pull the plug. They also tend to think showing up in last week’s clothes and without a care in the world makes them ‘spontaneous’ or ‘easy going’. No, you’re just lazy. And a bit shit.

I’ve also met the polar opposite of this type. A guy who’d decided he was ready to just settle, find a good wife, do away with searching. He swiped through afternoons at work, lining up 6 Tinder dates in a fortnight. They received a night out each. He picked one. Now they’re engaged. A ruthless, unromantic approach there, you might think — clear aim, selected candidates and whittling down the list, The Bachelor style — but hey, he’s about to be married. I’m not. Maybe, if you’re desperate to tick that checkbox, online dating is the place! Or alternatively, if you have the patience for people who can’t make up their mind, might always find someone better, aren’t really all that bothered if you’re there or not, and have one foot out the door (or you yourself are like that), then perfect. Welcome aboard.

The “Emotionally Damaged”

Ah, yes. My favourite: the one who is just ‘too damaged’ for a relationship right now. Never mind you’ve been chatting avidly, he’s been sending all positive signs and wanting to totally spend time with you, etc. This guy is the most annoying. He’s a not too distant cousin of Super Passive. Sometimes, Super Passive becomes Emotionally Damaged when he has actually decided and it hasn’t gone your way: he doesn’t want to be with you (or make the effort to try), and he can’t come up with a better way to say it.

It’s frustrating, of course, and sometimes, it would just be much nicer to know the truth. Not everyone will agree with me — after all, a certain amount of self-delusion is what gets us through the merciless dating process, it seems. There is also the Emotionally Damaged guy who actually does think he’s ‘not in a great place’, for whatever reason. It might well be true, especially if they’ve just come out of a relationship. But be suspicious of the guy who has actually been single for a while. Chances are, it’s a convolution of the truth.

The Emotionally Damaged guy will insist it’s nothing to do with you: he’s just been sooooo hurt before. Oh noes. Well, join the club, bro. Everyone has their demons. Everyone has their hurt. If you’re too much of a coward to get back into the ring, then I suppose we’re better off not dating. If you won’t take a chance on me, I certainly can’t take a chance on you. You can remain Emotionally Damaged — and alone.

The One That Got Away (That You Actually Liked)

Amongst all the fuckery that goes on in online dating, you may actually encounter this rarity: the one you actually like. It’s not to say he might not also be a Manchild, or a Super Passive. It’s unfortunate when these overlap. Really unfortunate.

I met one person in all who I thought I had a genuine connection with — someone who seemed to value similar things to me, who wanted to pursue artsy stuff, the way I do. He was older, I was attracted to him, and he was very smart. I mean, he still is, I’m sure. We’re just not together. Because ultimately, I wasn’t the one he picked. So it goes.

Timing is everything in online dating. And because you’ve no idea how many people that person is seeing — how far along in the process they are with those people — or anything else that could be going on in their life, you’re just another person hoping you’ll get the chance to get to know someone great. And sometimes, you just don’t get that chance.

If you’re looking for the MVP (that’s Minimum Viable Product, not Most Valuable Person, kay) so you can finally select “in a relationship” on your Facebook profile, online dating is a great idea. But if you’re like me, spoiled by knowing your parents have lived 30 odd years in marital bliss, and you’re after that capital-R Romance, then you may be shit out of luck. Ultimately, it’s lucky to meet anyone who really wants to be a part of your life. Perhaps what I learned from all this is that the odds of finding someone who is really something are so much worse than I thought.

My life is quite rich. But I still feel sad when I see couples arm in arm. I feel lonely on the couch by myself. I wish often that I had someone to hug, to come home to, to talk through my ideas with without feeling judged. I assume it’s natural, but I often wish the feeling would just go away.

In all this, though, I may well have made a friend or two. Despite the fact that an Arsehat is never far from sending you a message (direct to my filtered inbox, kthx), occasionally you do get someone genuine, friendly, kind. What you can’t account for, though, is chemistry. “Friendzoning” has such negative connotations, thrown up by insecure men for the most part, but I wonder: if in all this I only came away with a friend, would that be such a bad thing?

Okay, it wasn’t what I was looking for. But continuing to engage in the stress of online dating would be madness, right now. I will take a much needed break. I will keep doing things that make me glad to be young, alive and in London, instead.

I cannot magic up a partner. All I can do is keep rolling the dice — once I’ve recovered.

And Finally…

  • Have I missed any obvious types from this list?
  • Would you like to hear about some more specific types I’ve discovered along the way? I had to cut “Preachy Vegan” and “Boring Gym Bro” from this article…
  • Can we all just agree that online dating is balls? Cool.