Ups and downs of internet dating


I've been doing it for about three years, and it was helpful for me in figuring out what I want in a person. There are baseline things that have to be met — I couldn't date someone who was a rightwinger. Me neither, but I've also had people who misrepresent their politics. I had someone from Guardian Soulmates who, you'd think would be at least vaguely left of centre, and he started spouting about how all benefits claimants are spongers.

I'm a feminist writer. For me, it's a nice opportunity to feel that, as a woman, I'm not just saying yes or no to somebody asking me out, I get to be more forward in selecting who I'm interested in.

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As a gay man, I see online dating, on one hand, as a lifeline — in rural areas where they don't have access to gay life, or for people in the closet. But it can be worrying when a teenager who has not come out yet, or ventured into gay life, goes on to a dating site and are immersed in everything — not just people looking for a stable relationship, but every sexual fetish and risky behaviour.

Twenty years ago, when I first went to a gay bar, you had human social contact, which was more useful and valuable than sex. I have interviewed young guys who go online and suddenly they've got a year-old saying "come round for a threesome, don't bother bringing condoms".

About online dating

I have also interviewed people from ethnic minorities who have experienced horrific racial abuse while online dating. I would get hundreds of extremely sexually explicit messages. It is disturbing, especially for younger people — do they know how to laugh it off or do they think that's a normal way to interact? What I find as disturbing as the racism is the racial fetishism. I have friends, who are women of colour, who will get messages like "I love a sweet little Asian girl" from white guys.

At least if somebody is explicitly racist in their profile, you can avoid them. If you're dealing with somebody who only wants to date you because of your ethnic background, they can be harder to weed out.

Online dating: the up and downs

What I find concerning is the way a lot of women end up selling ourselves as sexy, and the thing you're putting forward is what you look like. And there's that complaint from men — she shows up and she's completely different from what they expected from her photos, and they act as if they have been radically deceived. My photos are the best I could find — I look thinner, prettier etc. The second he opened his mouth, I knew it wasn't gonna work. It wasn't his voice or what he said, exactly. As we perched on his blanket and did the ostensibly cute alfresco thing, he talked about himself constantly while heaving Brie into his face.

His gut overflowing out of his shirt only added to the hotness of this, and he didn't bother to pull it down even once. After more cheese shoveling and more bragging about how much exotic world travel he'd done that year, he glanced down at his phone and noted, "I actually need to get going soon. I quickly agreed that I had "so much to do," and that vaguely awkward silent understanding that we both totally weren't into each other passed between us.

Naturally, we never spoke er, texted again, which was A-OK by me.

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One of the strangest online dating experiences I've ever had went down a couple weeks before my birthday last summer. As you've most certainly learned by now, I've gone on a ton of unsuccessful first dates, and thus I rarely remember their names about 80 percent of them are called Mike or Chris anyway.

Online dating: the up and downs | The conversation | Opinion | The Guardian

For the sake of the story, let's call this winner Steven. Steven and I were getting along almost too well for the first couple hours of our date at an East Village bar. He was covered in tattoos and looked very put together.

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It felt really natural, like we had been seeing each other for longer than um, less than one date. After a while we moved to another bar, and he asked if it was OK if his cousin joined us. It seemed a little bizarre to let another dude tag along on your date, but he said he was only asking because his cousin was new to the city and had time to kill. Said "cousin" showed up and was a skeezy-looking, skinny European dandy wearing a sheer pink button-up and pleated black dress pants. That's when shit started to get real weird. Drinks were flowing, and soon Steven's personality started to change.

He started obsessing over everything I did and complimenting me every other sentence. It was the first time I'd seen a dude get extremely vulnerable on a first date and tell me about how badly he wanted to find the love of his life to settle down and have kids with. It was desperate, unappealing, and crystal clear that he was trying to force a relationship down any female's throat without even bothering to get to know her.

He stepped away from the table to go to the bathroom and actually texted me from there. I know, I know. But don't judge me for sticking around -- I was semi-drunk and therefore willing to tolerate much more than I would have sober. Plus, I knew this experience would turn into a great story. I was right, right? The three of us hopped in a cab and Steven launched into a heated argument with the driver about an obscure country in Asia. Exhibition curators' tour — Egham, Surrey. Conserving the Herringham Collection — Egham, Surrey. Available editions United Kingdom. Ally Kingston , The Conversation.

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