Last week, I invited you along on my journey of discovery, figuring out how to write my profile for internet dating. 

As a female private eye, I really should have more confidence when it comes to the whole dating and relationships thing. After all, surely as soon as prospective dates know I am a private detective, they are going to:


a) Be intrigued by my career
b) Be intimidated by my career


Either way, I’m surely going to weedle out the time-wasters and dodgy scam artists?

 
Maybe, maybe not. As I’m learning fast, both in my job and in my inner life, things are rarely what I expect them to be. After all, if everything was exactly what I expected and exactly how I have planned it, wouldn’t that be just a little bit boring? (Sometimes, I feel like I would welcome a little bit of boredom though, I have to confess....).


So, my next task (task??? Really, must I see every single thing as items on a list to be ticked off as I’ve completed them?....) is to decide which sites to sign up for. To get a good comparison going on, I’ve decided to sign up to one free site and one that you have to pay for. As a private investigator I am used to covering all bases and thinking ‘wide,’ so I am being true to my nature. Will the prospective dates be different whether you pay to see their profiles or not, will the men who have paid to upload their profile be more reliable, honest and attractive? (It certainly will mean that they are not short of £50 to spend on it and see the investment as worthwhile).


I start by selecting the sites my friends and colleagues have used and also do the inevitable Google search for ‘Top 10 UK dating sites.’ From the list, I browse the logos and the names. Whether I like it or not, I am stupidly seduced by aesthetics: presentation and colour. For example, if a site has horrible Ryan Air colours (I am still astounded that a company which has a combination of primary YELLOW and BLUE for their colour scheme can be a winner), I’m turned off straight away. Also, the names of some of these sites are quite off-putting. I’m sure that www.parship.co.uk is a very successful and competent site, but when all I can think about is root vegetables, my romantic dreams do not effervesce (even though parsnips are, in my opinion, the most superior of the roots). Lava Life just reminds me of creepy-crawlies (as you can tell, I’m big on word-association, and once the image is in my head it’s difficult to shift).The ‘Smooch’ free dating site also puts me off. For a start, I take against the word smooch. To some it might sound cosy and lovey-dovey, but to me it just seems presumptuous, frivolous and beside the point. I haven’t spent two years improving my self-esteem and growing from my past experiences just so I can have a smooch with someone for a couple of dates. I am not a teenager at a school disco dancing to ‘True’ by Spandau Ballet!

When I investigate further, I notice that everyone’s profile names are things like ‘Superfox’ and ‘Little Miss Princess’ for the women and ‘The Lion’ for the men. I just can’t stomach it! Most of the women advertised are orange and have enviously smooth, straight hair. The men use a hell of a lot of gel and their hair styles resemble the Chuckle Brothers. Not for me. My hair is Medusa-like and untrainable (even after the rigours of GHD treatment). And I just can’t bring myself to adopt a ‘handle,’ pet name or ‘Little Miss’ title. It just reminds me of those dreaded ice-breaker activities you have to do on training courses, where you have to think of words that describe you which match your initials. So Cheryl Fulton becomes ‘Cheeky Fun-Lover........’ And Harriet Bond might be, let me think..... Hare-brained? Hopeful brute? Harrassing bloke-scarer? Urrgghhh! Moving on........


Should I just type into Google the ideal site, which in my dreams would be tailor-made for me? For example: ‘Love matches for middle-income independent females with expensive tastes in decor and clothing looking for young, handsome and rich lords who are nevertheless socialist in outlook and have a positive view of women, preferably with a pretty estate in Scotland, who like good food and open fires but not shooting or hunting.’


Hmmm. Maybe this is a bridge too far. I do find sites for women looking for millionaires and sugar daddies, but I would like something a bit more subtle than that. A lord would be nice, but money is not at the very top of my agenda. Despite my career and the twists and turns of relationships I see every day in my investigations, I am still a firm believer in romance.


I decide to look at a site for those who think deeply (ok, so I think obsessively, but in my line of work that’s essential!), and find e-harmony. I decide, just for the experience of it, to go through the process of answering the questions which will build my profile. I take a deep breath and take the plunge. First question: name. Ok, I can do that, no problem. Second question: occupation. I make this suitably vague for now. Then it gets to the real crux of the situation: answering questions half-honestly but also half thinking ‘This is how I should be/this is what I would like to be’ and saying yes to it anyway. When I am asked about how calm and contented I feel, I end up thinking: ‘Well, I have the potential to be calm and contented,’ and tick the ‘Mostly’ box instead of the more honest ‘Occasionally’ one. There are statements like ‘I am only happy when I am in control of the situation.’ What on earth can one say to that? For me, this statement encapsulates a whole vista of situations and memories:
• If I’m investigating a cheating partner and want proof for my client, of course I like to be in control of how the situation goes
• I like to be in control of my environment; I want to be able to use my loo whenever I need it and to be honest, I would prefer visitors not to scratch my non-stick pans and spill ghastly things on my clean hob
• Of course it would be easier if everyone saw things from my point of view and agreed with everything I say and do


But...... and there are a lot of ‘but’s in this. Everyone agreeing with everything I say and do would take away individuality (which is what attracts me to people in the first place), the numerous delightful surprises that come along with getting to know and understand someone, variety and difference and the unknowing. I love and hate the unknowing in equal measure, but certainly would not enjoy a life without it. So, my answer to these questions can’t be defined by the prescribed ‘T’ for ‘True’ and ‘F’ for ‘False’ boxes. I just want to write an essay or rationale for each one, to dignify, differentiate and qualify my answers, but I am not allowed!!! Alas, I am not in control of the questioning and style of answering...... Grrrrrr!


Much easier is the section that asks you to specify the qualities you are looking for in a partner. This is plain-sailing for me, as I’ve had plenty of ‘me-time’ to ponder this subject. No time-wasters, no commitment-phobes, no one who is late for everything and keeps their house (and their selves) in a state, no one who recedes into their shell like a tortoise at the mention of feelings and no one who has already got a partner (no, I didn’t sign up to the site whose main advertising slogan was: ‘Life is short. Have an affair’).


All in all, it is a time-consuming business, this dating lark. There are hundreds of sites to browse through, a myriad of colour schemes and logos (though I have been thwarted in my search to find one with an Art Deco design, which would be right up my street). There are dating sites which cater for almost every situation and inclination (though maybe after all I have to admit that there simply aren’t any single left-wing lords). Just researching which one to sign up for is a nightmare! It takes skill and forward-planning and subtlety. Or maybe I just think too much.......


But the research is over for now, and I have found a few that might take my fancy. I have completed a trial profile without lying too much (I mean, doesn’t everyone hide, just a little bit, their foibles at first?) and without needing to ‘phone a friend. I have even swallowed my need to explain and qualify everything I say. Most of all, I have managed to not even check my e mails yet. I’m having a cup of tea and a bath, some hob-nobs and a hob-clean first. Let’s get our priorities straight.......

Next week............

Why is the run-up to Christmas so popular when it comes to internet dating (and, as my current jobs testify to, cheating.....), and how will I fare now I’m actually on an official site?
 

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