Christmas is only a few weeks away and my private detective hat is sliding off as the Christmas party hat goes on. No one , it seems, is up for having an investigation carried out on their partners a week before Christmas. By the time it gets half way through December, they have no doubt resigned themselves to the ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ mentality. No one’s going to want to upset the apple cart just before Christmas. I mean, the presents have all been bought now, the turkey is in the freezer. However, I am in no doubt that many women will be making it their New Year’s Resolution to get the hell out of a relationship where there’s no trust and there is always that sneaking suspicion that he’s up to no good. So I’m expecting my ‘phone line to be HOT HOT HOT come January.

But for now, the investigations are lying low and I am looking forward to a few days off. More time for eating, drinking and all the other pleasures of a holiday: staying in my pyjamas, watching Poirot, seeing everyone in Eastenders die a horrible death...... the list goes on. And, maybe, in the idle hours between one episode of Coronation Street and another, I will indulge in a spot of internet dating (or should I say writing?). It’s proving to be tough on the typing finger, this lark. It’s only when you start meeting people via e mail that you realise just how important non-verbal communication , facial gestures and voices are in getting to know someone. I would go as far as saying, in fact, that it is impossible to get to know someone this way. The age of technology has bestowed upon us many gifts, but encouraging and allowing intimacy is not one of them. It’s all a bit stunted and like an awkward conversation you might have at a party where you don’t know anyone. ‘So, what are you doing for Christmas? What is your favourite TV prog? Are you any good at ice-skating?’ For someone who gets paid to be an investigator, to meet people of all shapes and inclinations and size them up at the drop of a hat, this is a strange sort of outing for me. But what I had most feared was that my self-esteem would be suffering already, and despite a few wobbles, I must say things are pretty much ok on that front so far. Of course, I haven’t been on any dates yet, haven’t been stood up yet or dropped like a hot potato after a first date. There’s time for all that in 2011. Can’t wait! (Ha ha).

I’ve been really fascinated, as I mentioned last week, about how men fare on these sites. After all, when I research blogs and articles about internet dating, there is a whole universe of comments and advice for women embarking on their journey. Ego-bolsters, ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s, stories of funny and strange encounters so one doesn’t feel alone or like it’s only you that the weirdos target. I type in ‘Men+dating,’ ‘Men+internet dating’ and all the combinations and variations of words that amount to the same thing, and all I come up with is an advertisement for a dodgy book entitled ‘How to meet women on the internet.’ The website is packed solid with statements that make me wince and squirm, from ‘I got the odd piece of skirt,’ to ‘With what I’ve got to share with you, you’ll only have time for the absolute stunners,’ and then even: ‘You get from first contact to the bedroom in the shortest possible time.’ At first I was purely disgusted, then I just thought ‘Gosh, poor men out there, if this is all they’ve got to turn to!’
Women are still a long way off from equality, in the workplace, in society in general and when it comes to housework and childcare, and there is an assumption that women are much more emotional (and therefore weaker) than men. This can be a millstone around our necks, but when I consider what it might be like to be male, and to still have all those emotions and fears that exist in all human beings (that’s what it means to be human, and, despite much evidence to the contrary, both in my professional and personal life, men ARE human beings!), I thank my lucky stars I was born female. There are more men than women currently on dating sites, yet there is absolutely no guidance for them as far as the internet goes. It’s only a theory (and one for which I have absolutely no evidence), but maybe if men were allowed, by society, to be more expressive of their emotions and fears and were encouraged to develop emotional intimacy, there would be less cheating going on. I would be interested to hear from any of you who either agree or disagree with my theory, but there is certainly a reason that men on the whole commit adultery more than women, and I’m not convinced by the whole ‘biological need to spread his seed’ nonsense.

I come away from my research feeling, on the whole, quite sorry for men who are embarking on the same journey as I. The advertised book would suggest that men are only interested in so-called ‘stunners’ and have no need for anything deeper, and that physical intimacy is the only goal for them. I’m sure all of my many male friends would heartily disagree. I’m sure there are many men out there who simply don’t have the road-map for establishing a meaningful relationship, just as surely as there are idiots who have no interest in anyone but themselves. My next mission is to speak to men who are currently doing or who have done internet dating and see what they have to say about it.

But for now, my job is to keep my spirits up and get through Christmas without feeling too unhappy about my single state. Instead I can maybe rejoice that I don’t have to spend lots of my hard-earned cash on someone else and that I can go to bed with my hot water bottle at ten o’ clock on New Year’s Eve, and not be noticed!

Next week: Only a few weeks left before 2011, what will be my dating resolutions?





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