As I mentioned in my last blog, this one is about my adventure into the world of, "Internet Dating "
If you have read my first blog you will have seen that I was living alone in my old house in rural France. Now I don't want you to think that I didn't have any friends. I had, still have some wonderful ones who saw me through my darkest days. Still, in the middle of winter I was felling very lonely.
A friend came from London to stay for a week and it was he that suggested that I go, "Online". I had this idea that there was something weird, not quite the done thing about it. I wouldn't say that I thought it perverted but something desperate people did.
He had met his wife online, (they were in the process of getting divorced at the time, funny enough) and also his current girlfriend. Not quite the best advertisement for the process but what he said made sense: No way was I going to meet anyone living in the area I was and really could I see myself going to Toulouse, the nearest city, to hang around pubs and bars?
He showed me the site he was on and as he was scrolling through the females‘ profiles At first, I felt like a voyeur, a peeping tom. But, as I read the profiles I realised that these were ordinary people looking for friends, some hoping that it would lead to love and long term relationships.
I thought let's give it a go, I wasn't actually sold on the idea, I didn't tell anyone as there was still some embarrassment in my mind.
What site to choose? Dating sites all say that they are free. Not one for reading the small print, I thought, well it's not going to cost anything. Let's see what's available.
I choose a French site, living in France it made sense, since I lived there. The next big hurdle was filling in their questionnaire and writing a profile. How hard do you sell your self? Is pushy good or the more modest approach? Then of course comes choice of photos--ones that flatter leading to massive disappointment if you actually meet someone? Or true to life and fear that it will be a deal breaker.
I posted my profile in both French and English. The photos were recent ones and were actually of me, not of Brad Pitt. I sat back and waited for a flood of hits! It doesn't quite work like that, of course I got some woman interested in me, however as my expertise in online dating increased I realised that these initial contacts are generated by the site as part of getting you hooked into it.
You see 99.9% of these sites are not free, they are free to register but to reply to a response you have to pay. Each site has different ways of parting you with your cash. Some charge just a simple fee, while others break it down-- so much to send cyber kisses, more if it's cyber bouquets etc.
Of course you want to respond. That’s why you went online and of course the ego wants to see who you have pulled!
I started to send messages to various people that I liked, mostly based on their profile but human nature as it is I couldn't help putting a lot of store in the photos.
On the French site, which was pretty terrible though at that stage I didn't realise it, I received lots of spurious contacts. The old adage, " if it looks too good to be true it is" is worth remembering. When you are getting messages from 20 something year olds with a photo looking like a super model telling you that they have fallen madly in love with you from reading your profile, something is not quite right! I had quite a few of those, as well as the normal scammers trying to get you to send money.
The site was poorly policed that's for sure, though amongst all the sort of crap that was going on I did meet up with some nice ladies, I suppose they were coffee dates, allowing us to check each other out. Very low key dating but at least it was getting me out of my rut. It was giving me a reason to put on smart clothes and interact with other humans.
As I said it was all low key. No love at first sight-- n fact no one really floated my boat. An initial contact some emails, phone calls, coffee and goodbye.
One of these meetings taught me that though a picture might paint a thousand words it might not be accurate! The case in point was a lunch date with a lady in Toulouse. I arrived at the restaurant early and took a table that had a view of the car park. That way, I would be in a good place to abort the operation if necessary. I was sitting there when this old lady joined me. I was about to say, "Sorry I'm waiting for someone", when she said my name and introduced herself. Being the perfect English gentleman I kept a stiff upper lip and engaged in polite conversation til the opportunity arose to mention that her age and look didn't match her profile. Her reply without a hint of embarrassment was,
• "La photo est un vieux mensonge d'one et tous les femmes sur leur âge, ils ne sont pas"
• The photo is old and all woman lie about their age, is that not so?” Difficult to argue with French logic!
These were my early days of online dating and I was on a sharp learning curve, the other problem is that a lot of the dating sites are owned by one parent company so you get inundated with three other sites trying to get you signed up.
In part two I will explain how I found a wonderful truly free site that changed my life . You won’t believe the crazy experiences I had!