Ah, it’s all over! I have to say, it was a surprisingly good one for someone who habitually dreads Christmas.
5 years ago
The family behaved themselves suitably (no sly comments about yet another year gone by with not so much as a whiff of a boyfriend or child from my direction), then I sauntered off to spend time with friends and eat unashamedly for two solid days. Yes I did feel a bit sad not having a partner (again) but it saved my bank balance a bit and my sanity a bit too.
With no investigations to undertake, it was great to watch Poirot and see how private investigators did it in the 1930s (with much more panache and far more stylish clothes and forms of transport..... if only the life of private investigator really DID send me on a luxurious Orient Express journey!).
With all this entertainment and more food than a whole army could possibly consume, you can bet your life it never even occurred to me to check my internet dating messages. That would just be sad, and I’m just not ready for that kind of sadness yet. Somehow, the very thought of it is ever so slightly depressing and just plain unnecessary. I am beginning to wonder how anyone sustains the momentum for a full six months, and am starting to see how the website I’m on can still make money even when it offers a free six-month period if people aren’t ‘successful’ in their search for love after their first six months. I think it most likely that very few people, if they are anything like me, would take up the free six months. I suspect the reason for this might not be that they don’t need the freebie because they have met the person of their dreams, but more because they are so damned BORED of the whole thing! I have to admit, I’m pretty bored already.
You see, I’m quite a conventional girl (despite my vocational calling) and faced with the choice of talking to my lovely friends in person, having a laugh, eating together and making up silly stories, and spending time at home chatting to some stranger online, my only knowledge of whom is a blurred photograph (maybe taken ten years ago), there really is no competition at all. It’s the traditional choice all the way: face to face talking. And if there’s limited time to be invested in socialising, I’m putting my money on people who have already stood the test of time and have invested in me. Maybe I’m too cynical to believe I can ever meet someone this way; or just maybe, I’m actually more sensible and level-headed than I give myself credit for, and just don’t find it very much fun doing all that silent, virtual talking.
So maybe this leads well to my 2011 dating resolutions (now I’ve said all that, maybe I should just write one: ‘Don’t do internet dating anymore,’ and save my time, but that’s not going to help my readers who may need the guidance and helping hand!)
So here goes:
1. Don’t be stalked, or a stalker
If you feel at all uncomfortable with the way anyone addresses you, the type of language they use in e mails, or that sinking feeling of creepy over-familiarity, you have the power to block someone. Many dating sites do have this brilliant facility, so use it if you feel the need. I had a message after only a day or two of minimal chatting with someone that was bordering on suggestive/creepy. I have not replied to the message and don’t intend to reply to any further messages from this person. I told a friend what he had written and she thought it might just be harmless banter. Yes, it might be, but my rule of thumb is if I don’t feel at ease, just cut off contact straight away. Plus, if his idea of ‘harmless banter’ is to me a little creepy, we’re probably not very well suited anyway, so cut the crap!
As for becoming a stalker oneself, it’s easy for this sort of behaviour to creep up on one unawares, but it must be nipped in the bud, because it’s seriously bad for one’s self-esteem. In the dating game, your own self-esteem needs to be protected at all costs. If there’s a sign that you’re beginning to feel inadequate because complete strangers have ignored your messages or suddenly disappeared after a few weeks of lovely, fervent communication, it’s time to take a rain-check on the whole thing. Return to it when you’re feeling stronger. Most sites give you the capacity to take your profile down temporarily then reinstate it at a later date. There’s a reason these facilities exist: use them if you need to! It’s like your Monopoly ‘Get out of jail free’ card!
2. Trust your instincts
As I’ve already said, only you know how you feel about things, and no one else can decide your boundaries for you. If something doesn’t feel right instinctively, don’t go into denial: instead, trust yourself and your instincts. Cut off contact if you don’t like the tone someone is taking with you, don’t offer your mobile or home telephone number if you’re not sure about it. If someone is genuinely interested in you, they will be prepared to communicate in your preferred way for a while, until you know each other a bit better (and have perhaps even met up in person?). If they are not prepared to do this, this may be an indication that they’re a bit of a nutjob. Who wants to date a nutjob? Not me!
3. Don’t give out personal information until you know someone
It’s easy to be paranoid when you’re a private investigator: to read into things too much, study the whys and wherefores of other people’s behaviour and try to make sense of it. It’s also easy to slide into the trap of not trusting anyone, because you’ve seen, on a daily basis, people lying and cheating their way through life. Life must have balance, and realistically, there are far more good people in the world than bad, but at the same time, one won’t ever regret exercising a little bit of caution when it comes to strangers. Speaking from my own (maybe limited, but still valid) experience, I can count on one finger the times I’ve regretted exercising too much caution, whereas the times I’ve regretted not exercising enough caution are ludicrously infinitesimal!
So what I’m saying is ‘Hey, let’s all love each other and live in harmony, (wo)man, and expect the best from everyone we meet, and not be cynical about the world and the astounding people in it....’ BUT...... ‘Don’t be silly and give your full name/date of birth/address/telephone number/bank details/bra size to a COMPLETE AND UTTER STRANGER. It’s just not cricket, old fruit....’
4. Don’t go for a ‘date’ at his house
Oh my god! Surely no one would be this silly??!!! I hate to disappoint you, but there are some very naive and silly young (and not so young) women in our midst, who are low in self-esteem and so desperately want male attention that they will literally go crazy at the first sign of interest and do almost anything a man suggests. How do I know? I have been one, got that T-shirt and wore it out. Now I’m a bit older and wiser, I’m actually quite bored of jumping through stupid hoops to get the attention of someone who, to be quite frank, if I took off my rose-tinted denial spectacles, would appear to be an utter wally. So my advice is don’t do it!!! If he’s even thinking a first date at his place could ever be considered a good idea (unless he’s totally up front and that’s what you both want), then frankly, he is a serious wally who does not have a very good imagination.
The sensible thing to do (and what a nice, sensible and sensitive man would suggest) is to meet up in a public place and have a nice drink or dinner. See if you click, arrange to meet up again, exchange numbers, get onto the ‘So where do you live?’ conversation after a good few dates. You know it makes sense; so do it!
5. Don’t be a poor greyhound, chasing a fake rabbit
Yes, you’ve heard it all before in ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ but some of us just don’t seem to really get it until it’s too late, so I’m going to hammer it in just one.....more......time. If he doesn’t message/call/ at all, or doesn’t suggest meeting up within a few weeks, he’s a fake rabbit. Ok, I might win some money on you as a greyhound because you’re so lithe and fast and experienced at chasing that particular fake rabbit, but I’d much rather see you with your self-esteem and dignity intact. My hope for myself is that I will bow out graciously if/when he bows out (graciously or otherwise), and that if he doesn’t suggest meeting up pretty damn soon or seems to be avoiding the possibility, I will ask him. If he declines, I vow to make a speedy exeunt from the conversational arena. Life really is too short, and I simply don’t want a cyber-relationship. Never again am I willing to be an X-box or internet widow.
6. Don’t be fooled into thinking you ‘know’ someone you have never actually met in person
It’s easy to feel that you have some great connection with someone just through internet chat, but hold your horses, reel in that line. As I have discovered in this very short period of time in which I have been internet chatting (not dating), it is actually I.M.P.O.S.S.I.B.L.E to really get to know someone through e mail. Even if it was possible, it would just be downright boring and unsatisfactory. Call me a hopeless romantic, but there’s nothing better than looking at someone and feeling that recognition that you really like each other. Nothing can generate or replace that excitement. E mails are not romantic, films will NOT be made about people falling in love via e mail, without ever meeting (Really? Will they? Well, I’ll just stick with ‘Brief Encounter,’ thank you very much!).
7. Don’t call him after the date; and if he doesn’t call you, take off your racing gear, greyhound
You meet up, have a laugh and he buys you drinks. Then you get home and think to yourself: ‘I’ll just send him a message to say how nice it was to meet him,’ or ‘I’ll just check if he got home ok.’ HELLO!!! Wake up! I did this once, instead of thinking to myself: ‘Why hasn’t he called to see if I got home ok? Isn’t there something a bit wrong here?’ Needless to say, his subsequent behaviour followed careless, lazy suit and my heart ended up getting broken. If he doesn’t message to say how great it was to meet you and make an attempt to set another date, drop the fake rabbit!
8. Do everything you normally do
I see internet dating as just one of many things I do in my life. If it starts to take up too much of my time, I actually find it highly irritating. I don’t ever let it interfere with my normal life. The minute it does, I am in trouble and should seriously think about getting a life (and no, before you ask, you can’t order one over the internet!).
9. If nothing else, use dates to hone your skills of conversation and deduction
I’m a great believer in the ability of almost every situation (even embarrassing and excruciating ones) to teach us about ourselves and the world around us. If dates are bad and you feel disillusioned, pat yourself on the back for at least plucking up the courage to give it a go and try to put it down to experience. Developing the art of feeling comfortable talking to people you don’t know is a top-drawer skill that will endure for your whole life. Deduction is one of my favourite skills as a private investigator, but sometimes it goes all foggy and blurred when I put on my rose-tinted denial spectacles when faced with a nice-looking man. But deduction is all about practise and persistence. Eventually the spectacles that have been stopping you deduce whether someone is or is not an absolute waste of time romantically will be crushed under your big wedge-heeled boots!
10. Wear the world like a light cloak
This is great advice, and not something I am very good at (yet) but intend to work on. Try not to get bogged down with it and hold your head up against the disappointment. Often, I have looked back on things I wanted and thought: ‘Thank god I didn’t get what I wanted; it would have been a nightmare!’ If someone doesn’t reply or get in touch again after a date, throw off the cloak and have a rest for a while.
Good luck to us all and here’s to a great 2016!!!!
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