Manners Maketh a Man

As I’ve said before, my mother instilled good manners into me at an early age. That goes for dating too. I’m not just talking about “elbows off the table” and “don’t speak with your mouth full” type manners. I’m talking about consideration and respect for another person.

Women will also bend over backwards to make themselves presentable for an evening out. Men however, are a different matter. To be frank, if you turn up late, looking like an extra from Grizzly Adams, she’s going to wonder whether you could be bothered to make an effort in a relationship, and write you off before you even started.

Here are some tips for men on first date etiquette. She just might be the girl of your dreams so you’ll need to impress her. Even if she’s not, you’ll go right up in her estimations and give her hope that there are decent men out there if you put in some effort! She might even have a friend she’d introduce you to, but not if you have no manners and look like an old vagrant!

1. Send her a text in the morning along the lines of “looking forward to seeing you later”. Not essential but a nice thing to do. If nothing else at least she’ll know you’re planning on turning up!

2. Make an effort with your appearance. I’ve had a few dates with men who were smelly and dishevelled (if only HeBay had a smell-o-meter). Women invest time getting themselves ready and looking good. You need to do the same. Putting a jacket on as you leave the house is not the same as getting yourself ready. In case you’re really clueless here is what you should do:

Beforehand:

Make sure your nails are clean and short. I work in a job that makes mine filthy and if I can manage to clean them, so can you!

Get rid of hair that shouldn’t be there. I’m talking ears and noses. It looks disgusting and if you need a Flymo to cut it, you’ve left it waaaay too long. I once spent the evening with a man whose ear hair was longer than the hair on his head. Actually he could have tied it in a knot on top  for an instant toupee!

Decide what you’re going to wear and wash your clothes. Yes, even the ones that don’t show! A sniff under the armpit or crotch of something you’ve been wearing for two months and a “that’ll do” isn’t good enough.

Clean your shoes. My mother was right, you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes! If the eyes are the windows to the soul, shoes are the windows to general cleanliness!

Just before you go out:

Have a shower. Yes I know you had one this morning/last week/three months ago but it’s time for another one! If you’re going on a date straight from work, freshen up at least and put on a clean shirt.

Shave. Three day stubble makes you look like a tramp, not a rock star! If the date goes well she might want to give you a kiss goodnight. Believe me, she won’t want to kiss you if you could sand the floor with your face!

Put on aftershave (it’s designed to make you smell nice and desirable, not to mask nasty niffs)! Oh and please don’t use Lynx, you’re not a spotty adolescent and it smells cheap and disgusting.

Put on clean clothes. No, not the ones in a ball on your bedroom floor, I mean the freshly laundered ones.

Comb your hair.

3. Don’t be late, better still get there a few minutes early. For a woman there’s nothing worse than standing round waiting for someone and looking like a lemon. If you’re stuck in traffic, call her. If she can be there on time so can you and if you can’t even manage it on a first date, it doesn’t bode well for any future ones. Unless you’ve called, my waiting time is 10 minutes and then I’m gone.

4. Attraction can take time to grow. Chances are she won’t look like Demi Moore or Sharon Stone. If she doesn’t, try not to look as though you’ve just been introduced to the Bride of Frankenstein.

5. She has a head and that’s where the talking, looking and listening comes from. You might be ok with a woman who stares at your crotch all evening but she isn’t comfortable with a man who stares at her breasts and can’t make eye contact. Keep the eyes above the neck!

6. Don’t drink too much.

7. Pay for the drinks and/or dinner. You asked her on the date, you pay! There’s nothing worse than a scuffle over the bill and if you pay it will show her you’re generous and that you may be interested in her. She’ll return the favour another time. On this note, paying for dinner doesn’t mean sex back at her place afterwards. No decent woman will have sex with a man just because he’s paid for her meal, that’s prostitution!

8. At the end of the evening, if you’re not interested or need to think about it, kiss her on the cheek and thank her for a lovely evening. DON’T tell her you’ll call. If you tell her you’ll call, she’ll think you’re interested and that’s not fair if you’re not.

9. If you’re interested, DO tell her you’ll call, and make sure you do the next day! We all know about the three day rule but let’s cut to the chase here. Men are biologically wired to pursue and women like to be pursued. The ball’s in your court and she’s not going to call you! If you’re interested, let her know…she’ll be flattered. Unless she’s Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, she’s not going to book the wedding on the basis that you called her the next day!

10. Women won’t sit by their telephones waiting for you to call. However, it’s polite and considerate to let her know if you don’t want to see her again. You should tell her by text the next day, she’ll know where she stands, and she can get on with her week with no hard feelings.  Oh and if she texts you and says she doesn’t want to see you again, just take it on the chin, it’s not the end of the world. Texting back along the lines of “fuck off then you stuck-up cow” is just nasty. She was just being polite!

Guys who have a “can’t be arsed” attitude towards dating go right down in my estimations. I really do believe that the internet dating world would be a much nicer place if people were more honest and showed more consideration and respect to each other.

Actions speak louder than words

With three years’ online dating experience (I’m not proud of this, just thought I’d throw it in yet again!) I’ve developed a feel for whether someone is genuine or not. I don’t always get it right of course, and I’ve learned the hard way at times.

I went out with a man a while ago whose behaviour was so odd I still can’t believe I went back for a second date!

Date Number 1

Ralph was fifteen minutes late and I was already in the restaurant when he phoned to tell me he was running late because he was lost (he lived about 10 miles away). When he arrived he looked flustered but was very apologetic. He said he was 53 but looked much older and he was much shorter than he’d said in his profile.

He asked the barman where the loo was but the barman didn’t hear him. Ralph then shouted “TOILET” at him at the top of his voice, causing the whole restaurant to stop eating and turn around. Although this was Red Light behaviour, I gave him the benefit of the doubt because he seemed so flustered at being late. When he came back from the loo Ralph told me that he was very easy going and didn’t usually behave like that. However, it was enough for me to put the Amber light on so that I could watch and learn.

These are some of the things Ralph told me during our first date:

He was Austrian and had won a rugby scholarship to an English public school.

He spoke with a Cockney accent and there was no trace of an Austrian or public school accent.

 

He was an orphan and had no surviving family at all. He lived alone and had no children.

“Really? No aunts, uncles, distant relatives?”

“No, they’re all dead”.

He had a very important job which took him all over the world and he had worked previously for the secret service.

I watched Spooks avidly and even I know that agents’ close friends and family thought they were estate or insurance agents, not secret agents. 

He had lived in every country that I told him I’d visited, in fact I made a few up just to see if he’d lived there too and he had!

He didn’t seem to have any knowledge of the countries. He couldn’t tell me where he’d lived in Morocco but told me in graphic detail (just as I tucked into my patatas bravas!) about the public beheading he had witnessed. He had left one country because he had been shot at and listed several where he would no longer be welcome! Totting up the number of places he’d lived in and the amount of time spent there, he should have been 103, not 53!

He used to live in a £1million house but his ex-wife had sold it while he was on a world rugby tour (oh yes, he was also an ex-world-class-rugby-player, diver and golfer).

I asked him if the house had been in her name then, since she wouldn’t be able to sell it without his signature and he told me that she had told everyone he had died.

 

My spidey senses were tingling by now though and I had a gut feeling that Ralph wasn’t all that he said he was.

I must say that aside from shouting at the barman and his unconvincing stories, he was very charming and good company. This must have been why I agreed to a second date!

Date Number 2

We’d agreed to meet at another restaurant and Ralph rang me an hour before we were due to meet, telling me that he was already there and could I get there earlier. I told him that would be impossible so he said he’d wait for me in the bar.

When I arrived he was looking agitated and was sitting drinking a glass of red wine. It was obvious that he’d had several others while he’d waited for me.

He’d had a dreadful row with his landlady, apparently because she hates him. He wouldn’t elaborate about why she hates him but he did tell me that he spent most of his time in his room. Room??? On our previous he’d told me he lived in his own house! More alarm bells began to ring…if he was a successful businessman/secret agent/international man of mystery, why was he living in a bedsit?

He told me that he was looking for somewhere new to live and could I contact some estate agents for him so he could find another room?

Yes of course I will. Better still, why don’t you just move in with me…….NOT!

He was getting drunker and drunker and louder and louder. He was dribbling a bit, his speech was slurred and he kept repeating his story about his landlady hating him. I asked him several times to change the subject but he kept on and on about it.

By now he’d had five more glasses of wine and was so drunk that I could barely understand what he was saying. When he went to the loo I thought about making a run for it but I was concerned that he’d get angry and that I wouldn’t get far enough away and he’d see me and follow me.

When he came back I made my excuses about “an early start tomorrow”. We left the restaurant and he was barely able to walk. There was a police car parked outside and he said “fuck, now I’ll have to sit in my car for an hour”.  An hour? More like all night to sober up! He certainly wasn’t coming home with me!

I made my escape but kept looking over my shoulder as I walked home in case he’d followed me. It was the first time I’d had a date where I felt scared and vulnerable. I mean, I’ve been out with some idiots but at least they were harmless/misguided/brain-stuck-in-the-willy idiots!

The next day I texted him, saying that I thought it best if we didn’t see each other again. His reply said “OK”.

A guy can tell you anything he wants, and will sometimes tell you what he thinks you want to hear, but it’s your choice whether or not to believe him.

Don’t just listen to what he says, watch his behaviour!

Let me put it this way…

More wonderful excerpts from HeBay profiles.

“dont message me if you have put : “Must not have messaged users looking for intimate encounters or sex”. sounds a bit snotty to me”

Yes it may sound a bit snotty to you and I do have that written on my profile. That’s because half of the men on here are looking for sex and I’m not (not without a relationship anyway).

 

“i like to enjoy myself i like nights in watching tv and go visit my parents especially my dad.”

Oooh I just love a wild night out at my parents’ house too! You really know how to let your hair down don’t you?

 

“ I own a residential home in Eastbourne so spoiling you won’t be a problem.”

I can’t wait for my meals on wheels and cup of horlicks before bedtime. Early nights will take on a completely new meaning with you won’t they?

 

“I don’t no what to put down on here I don’t think any one is willin to have a date with me or even read my profile but if there is a woman who might be interested please ask any thin. I have a sense of humour its a little weird.”

I read your profile Eeyore! What sense of humour is that?

 

“As Mick I’m into live music, I play the guitar a bit, juggle a bit, I’m handy with a camera. As Natalie I’m into clubbing, looking glam and being the centre of attention!”

Sounds like you spend your whole life juggling. I’m not sure I could cope with not knowing if we were going on a date or a girls’ night out.

 

“I am perceived as erudite by those who know me, follow me and have equivalence, where they equate with me.”

You had a dictionary for Christmas didn’t you, but one only containing the letter E. Bet you can’t wait for your birthday when you receive the letter F!

 

“love my music too love my trance but got headfones so yo redaall pinkfloyd the who to name fewe hloveorror fill like all sorts reall ur safe lol lile all sorts”

You lost me after the first three words. You’re writing all the right letters, but not in the right order. It must say something funny though because you LOLed!

 

“iam looking for some one no older then me who i fancy fat and ugly not apply !!!”

I was bowled over by your profile picture, and I can understand that a man with your physique and good looks can afford to be really choosy.

 

“They broke the muld when they made me so as for what makes me unique thats it. I am not fussed by appearence as I am no oil painting and haveing once been a nurse, I know that it is what is inside that counts.”

You’re right, it is important to know what’s inside a person. Since reading your profile I now insist on seeing a recent MRI scan before I date someone so I can have a good look at his vital organs. It can tell you a lot about a man!

 

“I don’t like people who smell like old corned beef”

I don’t either, although since leaving my job at the corned beef factory, I don’t come across quite as many.  I know this can be a real problem when you’re dating but personally I’d rather they smelt of corned beef than a week old trout. Each to their own eh? 

If he won’t respect NO, it’s time to GO

At what point in a date is it OK to leave if someone displays Red Light Behaviour?  The answer is at any time. If you feel bad about the way a man behaves then you should leave.

It’s absolutely fine not to trust somebody the moment you meet them. Remember that you’re meeting a complete stranger. You know nothing about him, other than what he has told you. Of course he’s trying to impress you but it’s highly unlikely that he is Brad Pitt’s stunt double, given that he is 5’3” and built like a brick out-house. I’m not suggesting you scream “LIAR” every time he opens his mouth, but a little healthy scepticism (kept to yourself) isn’t a bad thing.

I’m probably the last person who should be dishing out this advice. At times I’ve been far too tolerant of unacceptable behaviour. I blame my mother’s insistence on politeness at all times!

When I started dating I’d just come out of a 25 year marriage, and the last time I’d been out with someone I was a mere slip of a girl! I was a bit naïve to be honest, not a terrible trait, but one that has put me into some difficult situations. I’d love to say that all people are decent and nine times out of ten they are. Sadly though, there are people who will take advantage of your good nature and the internet makes it easier for them.

Roy and I had been talking on the phone for several weeks. He was Hungarian,  lived in London, and seemed interesting, well-mannered and distinguished on the phone. He suggested we go out for the day, take in a few galleries, have lunch and dinner, his treat. It seemed a little full on but I agreed and felt flattered that someone was lavishing attention on me.

I took the train and he met me at the station in London. He was so unlike his photograph that I didn’t recognise him but wondered why there was a small, slightly demented looking man waving at me and grinning like a Cheshire cat. He wore glasses with lenses that resembled milk bottle bottoms and had a mop of hair which was clearly dyed, far from the debonaire, sophisticate I’d envisaged. As I came through the barrier he grabbed hold of me in a bear hug which nearly knocked me over. As I regained my balance he attempted a  full-on tonsel tickler of a kiss but I managed to head him off by slipping under his armpit.

He took hold of my hand and didn’t let go for the rest of the morning. We visited a gallery but he didn’t seem particularly interested in the art and tried to kiss me again in the lift. Over coffee I told him that I’d need to get to know him a bit better before I kissed him (we’d been together for about an hour) but as we left the café he put his hand on my bum.

He took my NO to mean YES and I spent the rest of the morning trying to keep his hands in check. Not since teenage fumbles behind the bike sheds have I known a man to have hands in so many places!  It was like having a date with Squiddly Diddly!

By now I was feeling really uncomfortable but it never occurred to me to leave. Maybe I felt that I owed him in some way, because he was “treating” me. Perhaps I’d given him encouraging signs by holding his hand but I honestly didn’t see a way out.  Looking back I must have taken leave of my senses!

Roy had booked a table at a swanky Sloane Square restaurant for lunch. Apart from him playing footsie under the table, things settled down a bit and we chatted like we had on the phone.

Over pudding he told me he had a proposition for me. It went like this:

“I’m very happily married but my wife isn’t interested in sex. She lives in the country and I go to see her at weekends but during the week I’m in London on my own. I don’t want a long-term relationship with you but I’ve been looking for a mistress and I think you’d be perfect. Obviously you’d need to be discreet. You’ll come and see me once a week, we’ll have sex and I’ll pay for your train fare so you’re not out of pocket. How does that sound?”

How does that sound? The words rang in my ears. Had I heard him correctly?  For a moment or two I just sat there with my mouth open.

Suddenly I came to my senses, stood up, grabbed my bag and calmly told him this:

“I’ll tell you how it sounds but let me clarify what you’ve just said. You want me to give up a whole day of my life for you, a complete stranger, every week, so you can have sex with me. You don’t want a relationship but you’ll pay me twenty quid which technically would make me a prostitute.  I think the rates for hookers at Ipswich Docks are better than that and I could be there and back in an hour and not waste a whole day with you!”

As I walked out the door I heard him calling after me “I’d buy you lunch as well”!

So there you are. It seems I did have boundaries after all but at what point should I have left? Nowadays it would be the moment he tried to stick his tongue in my mouth at Liverpool Street Station!

He took advantage of my good nature to get what he wanted and, for the most part, I went along with it. I couldn’t believe that I’d been so stupid, but that doesn’t excuse him, because he shouldn’t have been behaving badly in the first place. I’m not saying that the situation was my fault, but I clearly didn’t make it obvious enough from the outset that his behaviour was unacceptable.

Your thoughts?

It’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it

 

 

I love to read men’s profiles. They’re a real insight into how useless some of them are at making themselves appeal to women.

Here are some corkers from HeBay:

 

“She’s got to like animals, especially dogs as I have two. They should also love good food and like to cook as I am total rubbish in the kitchen.” 

I’m a dreadful cook too. Fortunately my dog is a cordon bleu chef and is willing to do all the cooking.

 

“ihave changed my profile due to woman on here getting the wrong idea”

I’d love to know what was on it before, do tell.

 

“i dont mind big girls but if you cant fit into my plane lets not waste our time”

Oooh it’s just like Cinderella. The girl whose bum fits wins Prince Charming!

 

“Would one of you lot tell me where you buy your magic mirrors?? you know ones where you look at it and see gwenith paltrow looking back!!!”

In the same shop you bought your Gorge Clooney mirror from.

 

“I like to play bowels which I have done for the past 17 years.”

Aha! That would account for the painful looking expression on your profile pic.

 

i like to dress casual but will put a suite on if needed”

Why buy furniture if you can wear it?

“I live alone with my beautiful big dog.  Looking back I guess I’ve always had more affiliation with animals than girls”

…and looking forward that’s likely to continue. I hope you’ll be very happy together.

 

I don’t know anybody and I don’t have a social life”

That’s ok, I’ll introduce you to all my friends and take you to parties. If we go to your place we can just cuddle on the sofa with a dvd and a bottle of wine.

 

“I am very partial to a generous chest although many features can be attractive not least confidence and a smile.” 

You’re going to talk to my tits aren’t you?

 

“Not wantong anything serious just discreet meetings every now and then with no strings attached and marital status doesnt matter as long as your not a drama queen cause im not looking for trouble just some hot sex from time to time.” 

Translation: “I’m a married man looking for a bit on the side. I don’t want you turning up at my house and my wife finding out, I just want a shag when I feel like it.”

Anyone using the word “discreet” in their profile is married.

 

“if your name has a Z in it , dont bother unless your names Zoe, (or Zeena) ,” 

Aren’t you narrowing it down a bit? Would you consider a Zelda or a Zara?

 

“laugh an the world laughs with you,fart an your on your own. thought i,d add that as no one reads these. p,s i was jokeing with the above.apparantly some don,t get it.(yes i don,t do gammar or spelling,just humour….?)”

Actually I do read profiles. Yours had me ROFLing! I’m astounded that some women don’t understand  your humour. I can see that you don’t do grammar and spelling but you more than make up for it with your hilarious wit. (Note to self: must start telling more fart jokes).

 

If you’ve come across any smashers like this, do share, I’d love to hear them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not you, it’s him

Sometimes you can go out with a man and the chemistry just isn’t there. You can spend an evening with the nicest man in the world and you just don’t click. It happens! It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with either of you, you’ve chosen each other from a picture in an online catalogue after all.

I had a date a few weeks back with a nice man (yes it does happen sometimes). Neil was polite and nice looking but I think we both knew within about half an hour that we weren’t attracted to each other. Nevertheless we spent a few hours together and at the end of the evening we kissed on the cheek (no tongue tiddlywinks!), said our goodbyes and that was that.

As I’ve said before, if a man shows any red light behaviour then you’re perfectly at liberty to leave early. In this instance, two polite people decided to “see it through” even though they both knew it was probably going nowhere. Why?


1. It’s the decent thing to do! Some people would dispute this and say it’s a waste of time spending an evening with someone when it’s not likely to go anywhere. However, you’ve both invested a certain amount of time getting ready (in his case he’s shaved and sprayed himself liberally with Lynx!) and you can still have a really good time.
2. Love doesn’t always smack you around the face the moment you set eyes on someone. There’s always the chance that attraction will grow when you start to get to know each other.

3. It’s an evening out and even though you don’t fancy each other, maybe you’ll become friends. I’ve become good friends with a few men that I’ve dated.

From what I hear and have experienced, men are less likely to see a date through than women. I’ve had several dates that lasted less than half an hour with lame excuses such as “Oh no, I left something in the oven”, sorry, I’ve just remembered I have to go to work” and “I’ve just realised I’m supposed to be at Dunwich beach to see the full moon, you don’t mind if I just go do you?”. Actually yes I do bloody well mind. I had a 45 minute drive to get here, I haven’t eaten (because you invited me to dinner), and I endured the agony of having my moustache waxed for the occasion! Actually though, you’ve shown me that you’re a complete wanker so clearly you’re not worth getting to know anyway!

My friend Susie arranged to meet a man outside a bar. He’d suggested a drink and dinner so she’d dressed up to the nines. He was late and she was standing outside the bar on her own, but surrounded by other people. Eventually he arrived, looked her up and down, said “nope” loudly and walked away. The poor woman had to endure the stares of other people and feeling utterly humiliated. Add to this the cost of her taxi fare, babysitter and having her hair done, not to mention the time getting ready, and she’d invested quite a bit on this date. Worst of all it completely crushed her confidence and she didn’t date for ages afterwards.

Another friend, Natalie, agreed to meet a man, Dick, at a local bar for a drink. She could tell that he wasn’t interested by the way he looked her over but he suggested that they went inside for a drink. At the bar Dick hardly spoke to Natalie and sat with his back towards her, giving the impression that they weren’t even together. He went to the loo and a minute later his pager bleeped (she thinks he paged himself).  He made the excuse of a “construction site issue” (on a Saturday night?) and hurried out the door, never to be seen again.

If you’re unfortunate enough to meet someone like this, it’s important to remember that this is HIS wankery behaviour and it has nothing to do with you. Both Susie and Natalie are gorgeous, articulate and intelligent women.

Some of these 50+ men are on their own for the first time in 20 or more years and carry on as though they’re testosterone charged teenagers with no social skills.  They treat dating sites like an online candy store, rich for the picking! They’re probably looking for sex and their shag radar has developed just enough to sum up the kind of woman you are within the first few minutes. In their eyes, if you’re not going to give out, it’s not worth the effort. If they leave now, there might be time to get in with their back-up plan! In a way it’s a compliment because you’re far too good for them. Perhaps they should think about how their sister or daughter would feel if she was treated the same way!

All right, so maybe you’re not his type, but unless you’ve behaved in a red light manner a decent guy will stay and go through with the date, at least for a couple of hours.  It’s possible that he might enjoy your company if he tried to get to know you!

Just remember that you’re gorgeous, fabulous and a real “catch”. Carry on being yourself, enjoy your life and believe that there are truly decent men out there! The old adage is true, you’re going to have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet a prince!

Talk to the face cos the tits ain’t listening

I recently read an article about a man in New York who kept a detailed Excel Spreadsheet on the women he’d been out with. Stupidly, he showed it to one of his dates and she posted it all over the internet! Of course she did you silly man, I would have done too! http://deadspin.com/5902760/

While I wouldn’t advocate anyone creating anything like this to keep notes on dates, I have a traffic light system (red, amber, green) when I start dating someone. It remains in my head, not on a spreadsheet, and I don’t take a tick list  with me or type up the details when I get home! It’s just a way of noting something to myself if something doesn’t feel right and reinforces my values.

Green Light  = GO GO GO!

He looks exactly as he did on his profile.

I haven’t walked past him three times, looking for a 6’2” curly haired 45 year old only to be faced with a 5’3” wrinkly with no hair.

 

He has a good sense of humour.

He’s clean, polite, respectful and attentive.

His eyes never wander further down than my chin.

Nails and shoes are clean…a good indication of personal hygiene!

His aftershave isn’t masking something unsavoury.

He has good manners.

He doesn’t shovel his food or speak with his mouth full.

I feel comfortable in his company.

Nothing weird or wankery so far!

He’s trying to impress me…

but not in an “I can balance a dessert spoon on my nose” way.

I’m getting good vibes and feel really positive.

I like him! I may even fancy him! Things are looking up!

Amber Light = Uh-oh!

 These are things about him that I need to store away for further clarification. There are probably perfectly reasonable explanations but I’ll watch and learn!

He’s fibbed about his age, weight or height on his profile.

If he’s prepared to fib about these, what else will he lie about?  Age is tricky to gauge unless he’s taken 10 or more years off, but did he really think I wouldn’t notice his height, or that he’s 20 stone and not 12? Some men suffer from reverse anorexia, where they look in the mirror and think they’re thin!

The barman/waiter greets him like an old friend.

He could be a serial dater or he could be an old friend.

He keeps looking over his shoulder.

Possible explanations:

He’s an International Man of Mystery on a secret mission.

He’s scared one of his friends will see him and tease him.

He’s scared his wife/girlfriend will see him and kill him. (In the case of my ex serial-cheater boyfriend it was the latter).

His phone rings and he jumps out of his skin. He doesn’t answer it but takes it with him when he goes to the loo two minutes later.

He shouldn’t have it on when he’s on a date!

Something’s not quite right about him but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Proceed with caution.

He calls me “babe/baby/hun”.

I’m 53 and I have a nice name. Please use it.

He’s told me something that “doesn’t add up”.

I’ll store it away in my head for later regurgitation.

At the end of the evening he suggests going back to my place for coffee.

My definition of coffee=coffee. A man’s definition of coffee=sex.

I never tidy up before a date so that, even if I was tempted, the appalling squalor would stop me from taking anyone home!

Red Light  =  NO! NO! NO!

These are “deal-breakers” that compromise my “standards”. A red light isn’t always axe-murderer behaviour, but things that I’m absolutely NOT prepared to settle for.

He talks about his ex constantly on a first date.

He’s not over her.  A first date is for us to get to know each other, not to talk about the past. “I’m divorced” is enough information. If he can’t stop talking about her, he’s not finding out about ME! If he starts to cry when he talks about her RUN!

He forgets my name, or calls me by someone else’s name.

He’s probably married or seeing someone else.

He’s 55, still lives with his mother and keeps a photo of her in his wallet.

These guys are difficult to spot on HeBay. They only reveal their true selves when you meet. They’re usually fastidious about their appearance and are very clean but remember that their mother chooses their clothing and tends to dress them head to toe in drip dry beige. As he left the house this evening she will have spat on the corner of her hankie to clean his face. Why is this a red light? Mummy’s getting on a bit and he’s looking for a replacement.

His pet, Tigger, is a reptile.

Unless you’re a 10 year old, dogs and cats are normal pets, anything in a cage or tank isn’t.

Behaviour that will make me run for it at the quickest opportunity!

There’s no eye contact because he’s staring at my boobs, he has wandering hands, he’s drunk, he’s rude to me or someone else, he expects sex in return for dinner, he makes sexual innuendos, he’s smelly, he’s disrespectful in any other way, he tells me he’s married, he tells me he loves me.

 

We women can be unbelievably forgiving of bad behaviour. We have extraordinary powers of intuition but don’t always trust our instincts. We often brush off  this intuition as mild paranoia, but if your gut instincts are telling you that something is wrong, you’re probably right! I went out with someone once who shouted at the barman about two minutes into the date.  This should have been a red light but I put it down to him being nervous and flustered because he was a bit late!  His behaviour later on reinforced my instincts.

If someone is rude and disrespectful, you don’t have to be polite and accept their behaviour. If they don’t have the social skills or manners to behave, that’s their problem, but it’s absolutely right for you to leave if someone makes you feel threatened, uncomfortable or embarrassed.

I don’t always get it right of course, and I’ll be talking about dreadful dates in future posts.

Do you have your own Code of Behaviour?

6. Thanks But No Thanks

When I first started online dating, I would religiously write back to everyone who contacted me, even if I didn’t think they were for me, believing it was a polite thing to do. Not wanting to hurt people’s feelings, I’d send a courteous and sensitive reply saying that I’d enjoyed reading their profile but they lived too far away/didn’t share the same interests/weren’t my type.

These emails reminded me of the thank you letters my mother made me write after Christmas when I was a kid. Faced with a hideous hand knitted hat, a pac-a-mac and a pair of enormous knickers that I’d finally grow into in my twenties, I’d manage to write something so gracious that distant aunts would believe I’d been thrilled with their presents.

Although I’m often tempted to write back just to correct men’s spelling and grammar, I’m feeling a bit jaded nowadays and I’m afraid I rarely reply, particularly if it just says “hi” and their profile isn’t very interesting.  If they have put some effort into writing (they’ve written more than one sentence without including the words babe/hun/chick), I’ll send one back politely saying “thank you but no thank you”.

As gracious as my emails are, some men have taken exception to being turned down and I’ve received a few replies, like this one from HotCobra:

“No Worries hun, if you can’t hold a conversation ,then good luck , your loss ,Passion’s Fruit, cum’s to mind”

 

or this one from BigBoyDave:

 

“You think your so special. Well I thought you looked fat in your photo but I hoped it was just the angle it was taken from.”

 

Ouch BigBoy!!!  If anyone can enlighten me on what HotCobra’s talking about I’d love to know!

 

One of the “best” emails was one I received after a date.

Geoff had been looking at my profile on HeBay for weeks, but never emailed or nudged. Eventually I sent him a nudge because I thought he looked rather interesting.  After a week of nudging we played email pingpong for about two weeks. His emails were articulate, talking about his interests, places he’d been to etc. etc.

Finally he said that he’d like to meet up for a drink and “?”. I took that to mean “let’s have a drink and if we get on we’ll have dinner”.  He asked for my phone number and when he rang, we chatted for a while before arranging to meet at a local hotel bar.

The hotel is quite smart so I put on my favourite Paul Smith dress, not too tight, not revealing, and my beloved high heels.

Geoff was nice looking, well spoken and he looked clean. A little rotund perhaps, not my usual type, but not bad for a man in his 50s. He wasn’t 5’10” as he’d described on his profile which was a little disappointing as I towered over him in my heels, but I quite fancied him actually!

We drank G&Ts while he spoke about his job and asked intelligent questions about mine. We talked about our families, friends, places we’d travelled to. He seemed very nice and normal.

When I excused myself to go to the loo, he said “hurry back” but when I returned he seemed to change. He got fidgety and announced that he had to leave, he was tired. His exit was worthy of Steve McQueen in the Great Escape, I’ve never seen anyone move so quickly.

Possibly our wires were crossed. I was expecting dinner but I think he was expecting something else and realised he wasn’t going to get it. I rather suspect he may have had a backup plan and got a better offer while I was in the loo.

All dressed up, starving and with nowhere to go, I got KFC and returned home.

 

After two days I received this email:

“Thanks for Saturday evening. I enjoyed talking at you, cross examining you, possibly confusing you with schematics of [my job]! Most of all I remember trying not to stare at your magnificent bosom (it’s a guy thing).  I had to sleep on you so-to-speak!  

It’s like everything on the menu is good, but its so hard to make a decision …. “

 

Remembering my mother’s advice of “always say thank you even if you don’t like it”, this is the email I sent back:

 

“I too enjoyed Saturday evening. However, if I’d realised you just wanted to drool over my breasts I’d have worn a low-cut top so you could get a better look, and dispensed with the conversation. If you’d said you were only interested in me from the neck down I could easily have slipped a bag over my head. I kept crossing and uncrossing my legs so you could see up my skirt too, but maybe that was too subtle for you.

 Oh you men and the “guy thing”, that makes everything ok! In my limited experience most men keep those thoughts to themselves and don’t reveal them to a woman after one date, so I’m especially flattered that you decided to share them with me and not just with your male friends.

It must be really difficult to make a decision about whether or not you want to see someone again, especially when you haven’t been paying attention to their conversation. Again, thanks for sharing that with me. I’m touched that you’ve been trying to make up your mind about me for two whole days, and it’s really sweet that you’ve been thinking about me at all.  

 It seems that you still haven’t made up your mind and I’d love to say that I’ll just hang around until you do. In this case though, it’s not really your decision to make, since the dish of the day is off.

Rubarbs

PS. Following on with the hilarious menu analogy in your email, I was trying to take a sneaky peek at your packed lunch all evening, but it was hidden by your belly of pork. “

 

An overreaction? Maybe. Perhaps I have more in common with HotCobra and BigBoyDave than I thought. I was incensed though!  Geoff  turned out to be another numpty showing his true colours! Definitely a 10 on the Wanker Scale.

It seems to me that although men have a brain and a penis, for some there’s only enough blood to run one at a time.

5. How to e-woo a woman….

As discussed in my previous post, it can take weeks of email pingpong to get to a stage where you arrange a date.

A man’s first email would be an introduction, where he says a little about himself and perhaps what attracted him to you.  Using the analogy of meeting in a bar again, it’s the equivalent of him coming over to you and chatting you up.

Unfortunately some men who’ve emailed me are clueless about what to write, even on some of the more “discerning” websites.

Here are some tips on what not to write:

1. Talk about your favourite food.

“You look delicious! would love to have you for lunch.”

Wow thanks Hannibal. With fava beans and a nice chianti perhaps?

2. Compliment her on her looks.

“I have not had much luck on here and I have started to target what I consider plainer girls”.

I’m not sure what worries me most, that you think I’m plain or that you used the word “target”.

 

3. Compliment her figure.

“Hi Sweetie,Lovely pics of you! Did you know that you are sitting on a GIANT MUSHROOM!!”

!!

 

4. Cultivate an air of mystery.

“Betchya wanna see a picture? Well, maybe not but if you’re curious, I’ll put one up. Nothing special but then again nothing to frighten you or make you go yuck!”

I can’t think of anything I’d like more than to see a picture of you to go with your eloquent prose, although funnily enough I can conjure up your picture in my head!

 

5. Be self-deprecating

“I wanted to say “Hi” even if you were to take one look at me and fall onto your back with your legs in the air laughing uncontrollably saying to yourself “he’s got no chance!””

No you haven’t. That’s because your photo is of you asleep on a sofa, balancing a pint on your belly and with a worms eye view up your boxer shorts.

 

6. Talk about your pets

“i see u have a dog like me ive got a laso apso lovley like her dad lol how about a stoll by the sea the dogs can meat each like wise over a chat and a drink or what ever u would like so hope to hear from u soon lol xxx”

I don’t have a dog like you. I have a dog similar to your dog. I don’t think they would have much to chat about over a drink, even if they were to “meat” while you and I have a “stoll”.

 

7. Check your spelling, especially with one-liners.

“hi u lok lovey”

Yes I am a bit of a drama queen at times, especially when I’ve had two late nights in a row.

 

8. Try to sound as normal as possible.

“Here in the surroundings of the Andes-mountains there are very few people I can thrust ,in spite ot the fact they talk a lot of “God” and “Bible” ans so on … don’t be afraid, I’m not the kind of person looking out on bothering you somehow, by sending you this “wink” I just wanted to show you apreciation, and sympathy.”

You’re probably quite harmless but I am ever-so-slightly afraid.

 

 9. Talk about where you’d take her for a first date.

“we will just do wot comes natural like goin to the pub,, or the next best thing………lol lol”

What comes natural is that we will never meet!

 

“if we get on an the vibes r right we will have a riot!! if not hasta la vista baby.”

Sorry Arnie, I won’t be back.

 

“Pie and a pint and think yourself lucky. Don’t want to be out of pocket if we don’t hit it off.”

Don’t forget to bring your club so you can hit me with it and drag me back to your cave.

 

“Meet up at a recommended dog-friendly pub, have a short walk and a meal.”

A walk and Winalot?  I’m wagging my tail just thinking about it!

10. State what you’re looking for in a relationship.

“aint got many interests these days, i aint got time, i go to work, come home, sort animals, feed me, wish i had a cuddle but go to bed alone. im a bloke if i get wrong tell me, if you dont tell me i’ll assume ive got it right & probably do it some more”

I bet your house is down a track, in the woods. Please read your email again, then ask yourself why you go to bed alone.

 

“looking for a nice lady that when you are apart from you cant wait to be next to and see again she must have no hang ups and who is definetly looking for longterm and not someone who will mess my head up again ( lol )”

Yes I was lolling too!

 

“To be up front about it, I have messaged users looking for sex. This will put you off I’m sure. However, its not the be all and end all. The urge happens from time to time.” 

Yes you’re quite right, it did put me off! I too get the urge from time to time but I don’t email strangers asking  for sex. I find a bar of chocolate and watching Embarrassing Bodies puts the dampers on it!

 

“Without appearing to be rude, may I ask you not contact me if you are financially strapped, thank you. Conversely, if you are very financially stable, then I am sure that I could make the transformation into being a kept man, lol.” 

Ok, I won’t contact you. Not because I’m financially strapped but because you’re an idiot. lol.

 

These are all excerpts from emails I’ve received, from freebie sites to those run by broadsheet newspapers!

4. Proper v. online dating…..

Like me, I’m sure you’ve bought things online. It saves time and effort and you can do it in your armchair, wearing your dressing gown and sipping a G&T. It doesn’t always go to plan though.

Needing something for a party this Saturday, you browse the internet for hours before you find a little black dress modelled by Elizabeth Hurley.  It’s nipped in at the waist, cut low to reveal a neat décolletage and just above the knee, showing off her shapely legs.  Believing that it will look equally chic on you, you send off for it.

When it does finally arrive on Saturday you rip open the package, but far from the stylish little black number you saw online, it’s made of material like a tea towel and the seams are coming undone. As it’s now 7pm, you have nothing else to wear, and you’re hoping that tonight may be your lucky night, you dash upstairs to put it on.

The dress looks nothing like it did on Elizabeth Hurley, the only similarity being the safety pins holding the seams together. It’s baggy on the bum, too tight on the tits, and it cuts across the middle of your calves making your legs look like tree trunks. There are deodorant marks under the arms but you’ve expended so much energy trying to get into it, you’re not going to take it off again. You rick your neck trying to grapple with the zip and follow this with the mother of all hot flushes. Standing by the freezer with the door open for half an hour to cool off, you try not to think of the vision of Liz H. You look at your dishevelled self in the mirror and think “that will have to do”.

You really wish you’d made the effort to go into town and try the dress on properly in a changing room, so that you could see what it looked like, whether it fitted and what it was made of. You may even have found something even better, not in your usual style but that looked fabulous when you tried it on.

Meeting someone in a conventional way is a bit like proper shopping. Imagine yourself as a single woman at a bar/club/party one evening. You look up and see a rather handsome man watching you from the other side of the room.  He’s not your usual type, but there’s something about him that you find attractive. You make eye contact, look away and make eye contact again. He smiles and you smile back. This goes on for a little while before he plucks up the courage to come over and talk to you. He offers you a drink and you chat for a while.

He has a gorgeous smile and he smells delicious. He’s well-spoken, interesting and confident. His hair is combed, his shoes are polished and his nails are clean. He laughs at your witty anecdotes and tells you that he too adores Girls Aloud and Dusty Springfield. Eventually you have to go, but before you do he asks for your phone number and tells you he’ll call…..

Internet dating is much more like online shopping. You’re choosing from pictures and you’ve no idea what the person is really like until you actually meet him.  His photos could be twenty years old and, although he’s told you he’s 6’1″, that’s on tiptoes, wearing built up shoes and standing on a box!

One evening you’re browsing Hebay for hours and you find a reasonable looking man. His photographs look ok, he can spell and he has no peculiar hobbies (that he’s admitting to). A little message appears on your screen telling you that he has also looked at your profile. He sends you a “nudge” which tells you that he has looked at you and might be interested. You nudge him. He nudges you back. You nudge him again.

A week later you get an email from him saying “Hi” (nothing else, just “Hi”). You write back the next day, telling him that you’d enjoyed reading his profile, and you tell him a bit about yourself in a few paragraphs.

Three days later he replies in two sentences, one telling you a little about him (his name, age and marital status) and the other asking “how is your week so far?”. (This is a question many men ask frequently. I’m sure it’s in the Hebay “What to Write to Women” manual, along with “walking on a windy beach” and “cuddling up on the sofa with a dvd and bottle of wine”.  Tempting as it is to reply “nothing much” which is probably more truthful, I usually make something up, giving the impression that my social life is more hectic than Paris Hilton’s.)

This goes on for weeks, his sentences gradually becoming a paragraph, and you running out of interesting things to reply to his question about your week. It’s a bit like pulling teeth but you persevere, because compared to the other profiles you’ve seen, his is actually ok.

After six weeks of email pingpong, and at the point of losing the will to live, you pluck up the courage to email him your phone number. He writes back with enthusiasm, telling you that he’s been wanting to ask for your number, but has been too shy to do so. Now he can’t wait to talk!  This email is positively encouraging and contains three paragraphs! You’re practically excited!

He says he will call you on Wednesday….. he doesn’t…..he texts you on Saturday saying he’s been busy and he will call you on Sunday…..

3. Writing about yourself…..

If men can be clueless when choosing a photograph for their profiles, let’s see what they write about themselves. Here’s an example of someone whose photograph was interesting enough for me to click on his profile:

I do’nt have a hobby probaly being single I like fishing but do’nt go regerly I like to make wine but not often I supose I would change if I met someone interest was in the same subject the stuff I have written here is true but boring well my kids are’nt boring but I would say that I am there dad I am an excelant cook but I have no one to cook for and cooking nice meals for youself is just sad”[sic]

I was tempted to write to him as follows:

“Dear Happyandsmiling306

I felt so depressed after reading your profile that I needed a lie down with a large G&T and some chocolate. It could have been written by Eeyore, it’s so downbeat.

The grammar and spelling is awful so I’d suggest you use spell check or ask one of your kids to check it for you. The lack of punctuation is fine if you’re James Joyce experimenting with the stream of consciousness, but as you’ve put your qualifications down as a CSE Grade 5 in Resistant Materials, I’m guessing you’re probably not.

It’s good that you’re willing to write the truth but in this case I don’t think it’s doing you any favours. I didn’t think you were THAT boring until you drew my attention to it! It’s possible that you were attempting to be self-deprecating, but my impression is of a man with such low self-esteem, he can’t be bothered.

I’m sure they are wonderful but nobody is interested in reading about your kids, women want to hear about YOU!  Unless you’re one half of the Brady Bunch, just leave your children out of your profile. You can talk about them later, hopefully on a date!

You need to try writing as though you really want to meet someone. Your chances of meeting a woman who likes fishing and winemaking are about 0.1% so I’d ditch the idea of finding someone with those interests and concentrate on your excellent cooking skills. Women LOVE men who are able to cook.

You’re right, cooking for one isn’t much fun, unless you’re Heston Blumenthal. All single people know that, we just don’t admit it to anyone else!

Nice photo though!

Rubarbs”

Some of you may think I’m really mean criticising the way someone writes (I’ve been occasionally known to split the odd infinitive myself). Yes I know some people are dyslexic/can’t spell/are uneducated/can’t type and it’s not their fault, but if you were applying for a job wouldn’t you ask someone to check over your application? Well it’s the same on a dating site.  You’re trying to make an impression, sell yourself, whatever! Like I said in my last post, it’s your shop window.

One thing in HappyandSmiling’s favour is that he doesn’t use text-speak.  Am I the only person on the planet who doesn’t understand this? Some men’s profiles are so littered with abbreviations and acronyms that I’m completely unable to read them without the help of transl8it.com or the surly 14 year old next door. It’s hard enough trying to decipher a one line text message but a whole profile would have been a challenge for Bletchley Park!

Here’s an example:

“I M a 🙂 LuvN guy n my 50s w a gud senS of humr. LMAO. I wk hard & plA hard & I’m l%kin 4 a lik mnded wmn 2 plA alng w me. ROFL. my ideal 1st D8 wud b a wlk on th bch w a bag of chps LOL”

This translates as:

“I am a fun loving guy in my 50s with a good sense of humour. Laughing my ass off. I work hard and play hard and I’m looking for a like minded woman to play along with me. Rolling on the floor laughing. My ideal first date would be a walk on the beach with a bag of chips. Laugh out loud.”

See what I mean? These are profiles written by 50 plus men who are trying to appeal to 50 plus women, not teenagers. They may as well be written in Japanese for all I can understand them! What’s so difficult about writing the words “in” or “the” in full?

Now aside from the ridiculous abbreviations, I just don’t get these acronyms. LMAO? Do they actually speak like this in real life? When the boss cracks a joke do they say “ha ha, too funny, I’m laughing my arse off boss”?

What I really don’t understand though is WHY they’re laughing their arses off, rolling on the floor or laughing out loud. It’s not like they’re saying anything vaguely witty or amusing!

A date with someone who uses text-speak in their profile? OMG I’m LMFAO just thinking about it … FFS!

2. Choosing a photograph….

Dating site advertisements are full of photographs of men looking handsome, smiley and sophisticated!  Definitely not the motley selection I have on my screen as I write this! For the most part it’s not a question of “wow, he looks nice”, more like “ah well, he looks a bit cleaner/more sober/less beardy/less like a convict than the others”.

I’m constantly amazed at the photographs men post of themselves on dating sites. I mean, this is a kind of shop window right? If you were advertising yourself in Debenhams’ window, wouldn’t you shower, put on a smart, clean outfit and brush your hair (if you have any)?

If you’re a man reading this, here’s a list of what not to show, based on pictures of men that I’ve seen.

Pictures taken on mobile phones.

1. Closeups make your nose look big and your head misshapen, a bit like looking at yourself in the back of a spoon.  It also makes you look a bit cross-eyed and shifty.

2.  Arms length pictures of you, again taken on your mobile phone. Most of the picture is of your extended arm, holding the phone and with your face in the far distance so I can’t see what you look like.

3.  Photographs of you taken in your bathroom mirror showing the loo seat up and displaying sundry ointments for places where the sun doesn’t shine. Similar photos of you in the kitchen in front of a tower of washing up and in the bedroom with your dirty washing spilling out over the floor. One reaction…..ewwwwwww!!! What are you actually looking for, the woman of your dreams or a housekeeper?  Believe me when I say that the woman of your dreams will remain…in your dreams!

NOTE: If you’ve had to take your own photographs the connotation is “this man has no friends”.

Pictures with others

4. Photographs of you with young children.  Are you completely bonkers? Why would you post photos of your kids on the internet?

5. Photos of you with your arms draped around a woman. You might think this makes you look popular and charming, but actually it makes you look like a philanderer with wandering hands. Whether it’s your beautiful ex-wife or you paid a stranger to pose with you, chop her off or find another photo!

6. Photos of you posing with a large snake draped around your torso may make you feel macho but will make me wonder how small your penis is.

7. Why on earth would you think women would be interested in a photo of you holding a large fish? Any woman who has had a relationship with a man who goes fishing knows this is a strange and all-consuming hobby for loners with poor social skills (the same goes for birdwatchers). Better to keep it to yourself at this stage.

8. Pictures of you standing in the pub with your mates, wearing a football shirt and holding up a pint will make me assume you’re an ageing lager lout, even if you have a PhD in quantum physics and are an expert in string theory.

Miscellaneous

9. Please don’t post pictures of yourself wearing women’s clothes, even if it’s your favourite negligee. I’d never date a man who looked better in a dress than I do!

10. Closeups of your tattoos (even if you’ve spelt them correctly) will not make me want to date you. For people of our generation, tattoos are not something to be proud of and usually indicate a dodgy, not bohemian, past. Tattoos listing names of ex-wives and children just show that you have a poor memory or can’t count.

11. NO!!!!! I don’t want to see you without your clothes on, even if you think you are Adonis (and to be frank you’re not are you?)! (By the way I’m an expert on Photoshop and I can tell if you’ve super-imposed your head onto someone else’s body). One other thing….a string vest and Y-fronts is not the male equivalent of a Wonder-bra and panties.

12. My pet hate….very out of date photographs! The thing is….women notice these things. We’re incredibly observant and can spot a mullet and Wall Street era braces a mile off. I really don’t need to know that you were a Wham look-alike at Club Tropicana back in the 80s (even if you’re pretending the photo was taken in the Maldives last year). I want to see what you look like now!
13. I know that’s not your Harley Davidson because I can see the photograph was taken in the showroom and you’re sitting the wrong way round.
Think carefully about what your photographs say about you. Ask a woman friend to take some photographs of you, she’ll love helping out with this.  If all else fails PAY for some decent photographs.
Generally women are looking for someone reliable, honest and truthful, amongst other things. We have a gift for analysing and reading into things, and that includes your photographs. Everything we see in your photos gives clues about your character and lifestyle and believe me, we’re looking for clues! We might be able to forgive wallpaper choices, but if there’s even a sniff of something unsavoury in your photographs it will put us off you, before we’ve even started!

1. The Secret Diary of an Internet Dater aged 53 and three quarters

I lead a full and happy life, have great friends and a loving family, I do work that I love, but sometimes, just sometimes, it would be lovely to have a man in my life.  I’ve probably watched too many ghastly Jennifer Aniston films, but I live in hope of being swept off my feet by a George Clooney look-alike who treats me like a goddess and worships me daily.

I want to be Celia Johnson in the station buffet with something in her eye,  Trevor Howard saying “let me take a look at that, I’m a Doctor”, Rachmaninov playing in the background and a steam train rushing into a tunnel.

Life can be ordinary but I want romance. It’s not too much to ask for is it?

I’m not looking for someone to whom I’m joined at the hip, I don’t want someone interfering with me when I’m trying to do pottery, wear matching zip-up cardies and go on tandem bike rides, but it would be lovely to find someone  who will chuckle at my little jokes, sample my cooking (a brave man indeed), appreciate all my quirks….. actually as I’m writing this I realise I haven’t a clue what I’m looking for….but the truth is I do miss a cuddle and it would be good to have someone to share stuff with sometimes.

I don’t really believe in a soul-mate (or sole-mate as I read on someone’s profile the other day, definitely something fishy about him or maybe he just likes feet!). I don’t believe in love at first sight either. I reckon that if you went into a room with a dozen men, the chances are you’d get on well enough with at least one of them not to want to kill him.

It’s not easy to meet people when you’re in your early fifties though. Unless you’re lucky and meet someone at the supermarket checkout or a man drops out of the sky and lands at your feet, you may find yourself, like me, in the wasteland of internet dating.

Three years ago a friend of a friend met her husband on the internet. As our mutual friend Jane put it: “It’s really easy, although you might have to kiss a few frogs first. Think of it as practice, like when you go for an interview. Ellen went out with a couple of men who weren’t very suitable and then she met Derek… he was clean, solvent and didn’t have any nasty habits”. It all sounded easy to me, although a bit like shopping on Ebay and about as romantic!

I signed up to Human Ebay, hopeful, optimistic  but definitely not desperate. Three years later I’m still there, aged 53 and still single, a little cynical but hopefully a little wiser.

If you’re a woman reading this, I thought I’d share my dating experiences, not because I’m qualified to dispense advice (far from it as you’ll see) but, if nothing else, it will give you a really good laugh and many of you will empathise I’m sure.

If you’re a man reading this, you may or may not recognise yourself! I’ve changed some names to protect the idiots, but not all (depends on where you are on the W**ker Scale)!  I’d just like to say here that I don’t believe that all men are W**kers. I’ve actually met some really lovely guys, some of whom have become good friends and who are not in the least bit W**kery. For some reason though, there are a lot of strange men on dating sites in my experience. Maybe that’s why they’re single!

Having taken the plunge and decided to put myself on Human Ebay, I was faced with my first challenge – my User Name. Should I use my real name (too risky – someone at work might see it, worse – my soon-to-be-ex husband might see it and would laugh) or make up something interesting?

I decided to make up something interesting – but what? Do user names really matter? I thought it would be nice to choose a name that reflects my character. Something that shows that I’m witty, intellectual, independent.  How on earth does one do that with a name? Will anyone care anyway?

I mean if I chose something like Sexy Babe, (1) I don’t really know if I am (it’s been a while) and (2) it’s a lot to live up to on a first date.

Ok, how about something more homely? Something that will show that I’m not averse to any physical contact, but I’m not going to have rampant sex on the pavement outside the George & Dragon  two minutes after meeting.  Something like Cuddles4U perhaps?  No, sounds like I’m motherly, smell of wee and have a lot of cats.

What about something like The_1_4_U?   Hmmm, sounds a little desperate, I don’t want anyone to think they’re dating Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, and I saw something with a similar name in Lakeland Plastics for getting stubborn stains out.

An hour of contemplating later I decided maybe I’d just use my name, Ruth.  Easier said than done.  Ruth had already been taken and I was given the option of using Ruth1286759; can there really be that many Ruths out there? I’d never remember it (I’m thinking of having my bank pin number tattooed on my wrist) so I decided to be clever and combine my first and middle name, Barbara.

Yet another hour later, filling in all my other personal details, I clicked the button confirming my membership, realising, too late, that I had created someone called Rubarb.

Now you might think that that would be the end of it, but I was then faced with the prospect of writing my profile. Up to 2,000 characters “describing yourself, your interests and your ideal first date”.

Hmmm 2000 words….practically a dissertation and nearly as stressful! Now I’ve thought long and hard about writing my profile. Apart from my photograph (and more about that later) it’s my chance to show all those lovely men out there what a witty raconteur I am.

I decided to put off writing anything on mine until I’d had a look at what other people had written.  Since I couldn’t access other women’s details, I bravely clicked on the first of many men’s profiles…….

Perhaps it shows lack of imagination, but for a first date it seems that hundreds of men enjoy “cuddling on the sofa with a glass of wine and a dvd”. Now I’m sorry lads, I can do that with the dog, and I’d cheerfully swap the cuddle for a bar of Galaxy.  If I’m going to endure an hour having my face threaded and my legs waxed beforehand, I expect more from a date than an evening on a saggy sofa with a glass of vino collapso and the World Rugby Highlights.  Apart from anything, I like to get to know someone a bit better before I go on their sofa!

Others have written that they find sharing a bag of chips romantic. Not on your nelly! I might share chips with a man at a later date but until I know  that he always washes his hands when he’s been to the loo, there’s no way he is sticking his fingers into my bag of chips! Aside from which, who told him that it’s romantic to share a bag of chips on a first date? Why did he believe them?

On Human Ebay there’s an option to click on “what you’re looking for”. There’s nothing along the lines of “Let’s see how it goes shall we?”  The choices are Long Term (hmmm, Fatal Attraction again), Activity Partner (um….what kind of activity? ), Intimate Encounter (ah, the last one obviously means sport of some kind, definitely not ticking that one. What’s this intimate encounter though? Would any woman in her right mind admit this unless she was touting for business at Ipswich Docks?), Hang Out (What does that mean exactly? Isn’t that what teenagers do in bus shelters? Would I need to turn up with 10 B&H and a pack of Haribos?) The last category was Dating (that’s what I put, seemed the most reasonable given that I didn’t fit any of the other categories and hopefully it would cover all eventualities).

It also suggests “If you want to be successful and not waste your time do this: 1. Talk about your hobbies. 2. Talk about your goals/aspirations 3. Talk about yourself and what makes you unique. 4. Your taste in music.”

  1. Hobbies? What hobbies?  Extreme knitting? Bungee jumping? Aha, reading the classics (but someone might test me on it and they’ll know I’ve only read the back cover of Northanger Abbey). Will anyone be impressed that I like Sudoku? Does walking the dog once a week count as sport?
  2. Goals and aspirations – Climbing Kilimanjaro? reaching the second level of Nintendo Brain Training? At the moment, writing my profile!
  3. What makes me unique? Perhaps my penchant for peanut butter and marmite on toast, the fact that I loathe housework and cooking with a passion?
  4. Music – is it cool to like Girls Aloud and Dusty Springfield?

Ok job done (no I’m not going to show you my profile, you might go peeking). More to come…..