One thing it has definitely confirmed is that my gut instincts, now that I have employed them full-time, are bang-on and not to be ignored in the future (as they have been in the past). One of the dodgier experiences that I came up against was dispatched with dignity and panache (by me, I hasten to add, and not the loser who generated it) and I have weathered quite happily the sudden disappearance of or total ignorance of particular men online. I am loosening my cloak and instead of thinking ‘What if?’ am just shrugging my shoulders and saying ‘So what?’


As I said last week, I have decided to seize the day and contact men who I think look and sound nice, instead of waiting around for them to contact me. I don’t know how many women there are on the site I am using, but when I type in a quick search of men in my age range, there are nearly 100 pages of the blighters! In reality, unless you pay the higher premium to get your profile seen first, you’re likely to be missed out unless men want to spend hours trawling through pages and pages of photographs and ‘About Me’s. To be honest, it’s something I can hardly be bothered to do (I’d rather be looking for dresses or shoes if I must be online at all), so I can usually look through a maximum of ten pages before my head is spinning with images of generic men. Ones that have jumped out at me, I have sent a quick message just to say hi. Some have got back to me, some not. At this point in my life, it REALLY doesn’t matter. Que Sera Sera, isn’t that the song? We used to sing it at school all the time, but I have only really started to absorb the message: ‘Whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see......’ It’s when I have ignored this and tried to take destiny into my own controlling hands that I’ve come a cropper big time. So from now I am trying to keep my hands off!


Talking off keeping hands off, that brings me nicely to my first truly dodgy experience with an online potential. I am not going down the route of ‘all men are creeps’ or anything, as I am still quite certain that most of the men on these sites are genuine people just trying to make connections, as am I, but OH MY GOD! I have been chatting to someone for a couple of weeks and he seemed really quite nice. Into the same music, likes time on his own, staring at the sea etc. We had even talked about the possibility of meeting up. My hackles were up slightly when comments became less ‘What are you doing this weekend?’ and more ‘Where do you live? Do you live alone?’ No, I thought, give this person the benefit of the doubt. But when the tempo went up again, to making suggestive comments about the sort of activities he might pursue if I joined him on the sofa that evening, the benefit of the doubt went immediately out the window, under the heels of my size 4 boots! Then the comments started flowing in about how uptight and prudish I was for not reacting ‘suitably’ to his ‘playful’ comments. Message deleted; contact deleted...... This man is simply not going to employ a second more of my precious time.


There are a minority of men out there who seem to think that women who sign up for online dating sites are so desperate for male attention of any sort, that they would welcome inappropriate over-familiarity (or as he put it, ‘sauciness,’ God, what, are we in a Carry On film or something?!) and will tolerate what I class as abusive put-downs. Maybe some, and maybe me before I wised up, but now...... no thank you!
In the meantime, I have potentially arranged to actually meet one of these online bods! Unless I or he chickens out in the meantime it is in the next couple of weeks. This is a first for me and something that is potentially scary (but not half as scary as some of the medical procedures I’ve endured recently at the hands of random male doctors) but what do I have to lose? 99.9% of the people we meet are NOT going to be the one you fall in love with, so there is a miniscule chance that this will be a lasting thing or that we will both find each other amazing. But what it might do is get me out there and opening myself up to the possibility of engaging with new people and presenting myself positively.


Here are some quick tips (and I hope I follow them myself!) for safety when meeting online dates:


• Only meet in a public place: Never agree to his house or his mate’s house, or some dodgy pub from the back of beyond. Meet somewhere with which you are familiar and can get home from very easily


• Have money reserved for a taxi if you are meeting in the evening: However nice he seems on the first date, remember that essentially, he is still a stranger to you. It doesn’t matter how many weeks or months you have been chatting online: he is still a stranger until you have met and talked to him in person for a while longer. Don’t accept a lift from him or even from one of his friends. Thank him for his offer but say you have money for a taxi and would rather do it that way this time. If he is genuine, he will understand and respect your decision.


• Meet in the daytime or early evening if you can: Try to organise something low-key for the first time you meet, maybe just a coffee or tea in the city centre, or a lunch date. I plan to meet a couple of hours before I have to be somewhere else, so that it gives us an allotted time for a chat and I can see my friends straight afterwards!


• Don’t expect him to pay: I think this can set up a strange dynamic on a date. The best thing is to go halves or just pay for your own, until you know someone a bit better. It’s an important part of your independence and self-esteem, too, to be in charge of your finances and your ability to pay your way. Co-dependence is not an attractive quality to an emotionally healthy man!


• Don’t give details of where you live or your work address: It’s probably ok to say the area you live in, but not your actual address. Swapping mobile numbers is probably appropriate at this stage if you feel comfortable with it


• Don’t text him first!!! For me this is a biggie, as I made this mistake once before (and never again!). Don’t text him to find out if he got home ok or to say you had a nice time with him or to ask him for another date. Call me old-fashioned, but that is his job and it’s a good way of testing if he does like you or not and is prepared to let you know.


• Don’t feel downhearted if it doesn’t work out: This is so difficult, and if someone gave me this advice I would feel like slapping them! But it is actually very essential to get up, dust yourself off and try again. Remember the 99.9% rule. It’s actually highly unlikely (and yes, very annoying!) that every bloke you meet will think you are so amazing that he wants to marry you immediately. But if this one doesn’t, then someone somewhere down the line will! It might seem like an impossible odds, and you might feel like you’re wasting your time, but at least you’re out doing things and opening yourself up to the possibility of meeting someone special. More to the point, you are practising, and fine-tuning your gut instincts so that you can invest in healthy relationships and ditch the unhealthy ones!
 

Good luck......!!!!

Next week: Have I stuck to my own dating rules, and why have I decided to ditch the free site I am on?
 

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