Online dating: Biting the bullet

This is a series of posts about online dating, which I have dabbled in a bit during the past year or so. The majority of these posts were written back in February 2011, but I ran out of steam and consigned them to the drafts folder. I didn’t begin work on the posts again until recently.

This first part looks at the decision to join a couple of dating websites. This isn’t the most entertaining of the posts. Keep an eye out for the next ones, which I will publish over the coming days. I promise it gets better.


Biting the bullet

Over the past year or so, I have been investigating the world of online dating. Admittedly, this investigation was on and off and a bit half-hearted. But it was a real task I had set myself for 2011.

Having put the idea of pursuing any kind of relationship on the backburner for years, it felt like the time to look into it. In 2009 I got a job, which had been the focus of my attention after gaining my degree. In 2012 I concentrated on finding somewhere to live that wasn’t my parents’ house.

Moving to Dundee meant being further away from my Fife-based friends for the first time. So the desire to find a new goal to focus on, coupled with the need to meet new people, led me to try out online dating.

I was not too hopeful at first. I had two main preconceptions about the people on dating websites. One is that they are all weirdos. But that’s OK, up to a point. I can handle weirdness (or certain types of it, at least). After all, I apparently fit into that bracket nicely. Besides, it would be pretty boring if everyone was ‘normal’.

The second preconception I had about the people on dating websites is that they have over-inflated expectations of their partners.

But my main concern was that the way you set up a profile would result in a formulaic, box-ticking style of match-making. Surely if you say you are interested in someone who is (for instance) intelligent, you are more likely to be contacted by someone who thinks they are intelligent but actually isn’t.

Then there are the websites that promise to match you up with someone who is ‘compatible’, using their algorithms based on your answers to a series of bizarre and irrelevant questions. Compatible? It is not as if starting a relationship is like trying to play a Betamax tape on a VHS machine.

Nonetheless, I decided it would do no harm to at least give the idea a whirl. I first dipped my toe into OkCupid. This was largely based on the excellent blog of theirs, which contains lots of interesting findings from the large amount of relationship data that they have built up. It makes for fascinating reading.

The other website I dabbled with at first was Match.com. This was based entirely on their megabucks advertising campaigns meaning that it was more or less the only other one I could think of.

Both websites have their advantages and disadvantages.

Keep an eye out for the next post, which will look at the decision of which dating website to join.

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