Refreshingly straightforward, too creepy – or markedly morish? This week Stockholm single gal and expat extraordinaire Claire Duffy takes on the roller coaster ride of the online dating scene.
Having realized that the bar scene was getting me precisely nowhere, I’ve decided to give internet dating a go. I’m not without misgivings: I tried online dating years ago in London when it was first all the rage, and my most successful date was the one with the guy who referred to his mother as “mummy” and I accidentally got so drunk I tried to climb up some stairs that weren’t there. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
It’s brilliant. It’s basically like being single in general – fun, brutal, absurd – but turbo charged. Over a year of being single, I might come across, be interested in, or be approached by, let’s say 10 men (actually that’s ridiculously optimistic, but let’s pretend). Maybe half of them will be weirdos/geriatric/married, half of those that remain might be worth a quick chat but it fizzles into nothing, one or two like me but I’m not feeling it, one or two I like but they’re inexplicably immune to my charms, and – okay, this is why I’m a writer and not a mathematician, because I’m fairly sure I’ve run out of men at this point, but bear with me – at most one will be both interesting and interested.
It’s just like that on a dating site, except that all happens in about an hour. You’re on a high speed rollercoaster of “ooh, that was a lovely message!”, “ahh, he didn’t reply?”, “eww, creepy – delete”, “hmm, he’s cute – message”, “oh, why did he look at my profile and not make contact?”, “woohoo, reply from the first one!”
One thing I particularly like about it is that it’s quite straightforward. We’re all single, we’re all looking, so there’s none of that having a lovely conversation with a cute guy when he suddenly mentions that his wife also likes the film we’re discussing. Or announcing to a platonic fika companion that you’re checking out someone hot at the next table, only to discover that he thought you were on a date. Or spending months hopelessly in love with a male friend, going for regular drinks that feel like the best date ever, only to be crushed, again, by a chaste hug at the end of the night.
It is, however, almost too straightforward. I’ve discovered that “so, what are you looking for?” is code for “are you up for a bit of naked shenanigans and no more?
Now, we’re all grown ups here and I’m far from adverse to the odd, ahem, kort-romans, but there’s something too clinical, for me, about establishing that in advance over email. There’s also the slightly more mature men who mention, in the very first message, that they don’t want any more children. To be fair, that’s useful information for a woman in her mid 30s to have before potentially starting to like a guy, but it still feels a little startling to be presented with it quite so abruptly.
There’s also a bit of a kid in a candy shop element to it. My first date was with a lovely French guy. Handsome, charming and clever, the conversation flowed easily and it was all quite interesting. We’ve seen each other a second time, and I’m open to seeing him more – but, if this was in normal circumstances (i.e. there was no one else on the horizon), I suspect I may well be in that early romance, lost in thought about him at inappropriate times, giddy when he texts sort of state.
But as it is, I catch myself checking to see if the Swedish guy who kayaks has replied when lovely French guy goes to the bathroom.
I wonder if I’m potentially letting something good pass me by, by being a bit greedy? Or is it healthy not to be overly giddy early on, and if or when I meet someone who makes me forget about all the others I’ll… well, forget about all the others?
In the meantime, Swedish guy who kayaks has just suggested a fika…