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Book extract: on internet dating

UPDATE March 2016: if you enjoyed this extract check out my new book – How A Bad Girl Fell In Love

I’m not very well today. Thumping headaches do not make great blog posts, and I’m feeling about as sexy as a box of rocks. So instead of a blog post, here’s an extract from my book. If you like it, you can buy it from a variety of good internet bookshops. If you’ve already read it, please do review it on Amazon. For reasons I am slightly hazy on, this is important.

Dear all the men on the internet: you complete me

I was recently singled out at a comedy night, during that part of the show where the compère chats to audience members in order to make hilarious jokes about their lives. He asked how long I’d been with the boy next to me, and where we initially met.

‘On the internet,’ I replied, and the audience pissed themselves laughing.

How quaint. I felt like turning round to them and asking just which century they were living in. Perhaps people’s squeamishness about internet dating is a hangover from a time when, in the infancy of the internet, those brave enough to use it to meet potential partners were people of a slightly pervy persuasion, who’d find it hard to meet a match anywhere else. For these people, patiently waiting for a dial-up connection seemed a hell of a lot easier than polling everyone in their local pub to find out who had a matching balloon fetish. But internet dating, while perhaps a novelty ten years ago, is now not only an acceptable way to meet someone but a borderline necessity, especially in a city like London where people you meet on the street are as likely to spit on you as chat you up. Laughing at someone for meeting their squeeze online is like laughing at commuters who trust the mysterious forces that power tube trains, or refusing to visit a doctor in case they might be a witch.

Where else does one possibly meet people? There’s work, I guess, but the idea of having loud, angry, jizz-dripping sex with a colleague then subsequently having to take them seriously in meetings brings me out in a cold sweat. What’s more, you can never quite guarantee that when you break up with each other—as you almost inevitably will—they won’t go showing Dave in IT those photos you took in the bathroom.

How about on the way to or from work? After all, American sitcoms are teeming with people who are willing to stride nonchalantly up to an attractive stranger and ask them for coffee. It’s something I’ve considered before, particularly when there’s been a guy on the tube wearing a tight t-shirt and sporting tattoos that I just want to lick. But this sort of behaviour will probably have to remain in America, at least until we have a huge cultural revolution. Approaching an English person on public transport is not the best way to kick-start a sexual relationship: they assume you’ll either rob them or introduce them to Christ.

So how about a pub? English people are at their most gregarious and cheerful when ever so slightly pissed. But unfortunately with drunkenness comes a serious lack of coordination, making even the most graceful people look like clumsy chimps. More importantly, being drunk affects your own judgement, making you more likely to cop off with people your sober self wouldn’t look twice at. I’ve attempted pub chat-ups before, but the vast majority of them have ended either in someone backing away, terrified, as I regale them with tales of my previous fucks, or red in the face as I rail at them having realised that the Man of My Dreams is vaguely pretentious, worryingly rude or, on one notable occasion, racist.

Nightclubs are barely worth mentioning: the possibility that you’ll accidentally screw a bigot is much higher, given that you are unable to hear a bloody word anyone’s saying. Moreover, the only nightclub approaches I’ve witnessed have involved one person dancing seductively towards another and attempting to rub their genitals on their leg. This is exactly as sexy as it sounds, i.e.: not.

So where else but the internet? The internet is by far and away the best place to locate people who seem like your type. What’s more, it’s useful for screening out those who definitely aren’t your type, those who’d either annoy or terrify you. No more bombshells at 2 a.m., when you’ve been chatting up what seems like a hot person for an hour only to hear them say, ‘I actually find sex hotter when neither of us orgasms.’ Or ‘You know, I think it’s important that the man retains the role as head of the household,’ or even ‘You know, you’d be really pretty if you lost a bit of weight.’

You can cull people without having to go through the tedium of an initial conversation. Did you shorten ‘your’ to ‘ur’? We’re probably not going to get on. Listed ‘clubbing’ as one of your hobbies? No thanks. Included a hilarious joke about how ‘fat chicks need not apply’? Even if I’m not having a fat day, you’re definitely on the ‘no’ list. Sure, I’ve probably ended up ditching a few potential partners with whom things could have worked out, but there’s nothing like a search list full of new opportunities to make one realise that there are plenty more hot nerdy guys in the sea.

And, of course, the same is true from their point of view as well. No man I meet online need worry about whether I’m too tall, too loud, or, as one guy rather excellently put it, too ‘drinky’—I most definitely am all of those things, and I state it up front in my profile so as to avoid that awkward moment when we meet in a bar and he looks around for a discreet window to escape through.

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