Dating Tumbleweed

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It’s been over 8 months since I started on this online dating mission, and things haven’t exactly turned out quite as hoped. If you’re read my previous blogs you’ll know I’ve been using Tinder, POF and happn to search for women. Since then, I’ve also added Lovoo and Badoo to the mix. As you can guess this was due the the lack of success on the original three apps. You would have also read I’ve had a couple of dates, one of which ended up ghosting me after a promising start, and the other leaving me in the dreaded friendzone. So what’s been happening since then?

To cut a short story even shorter: sod all, sweet FA, diddly squat, nada. Well, not strictly true, as I did manage one other date, and she did seem reasonably pleasant and we got on, but she lived far too far away to even consider taking any further. But apart from that, nothing.

App success

Comparing the apps in terms of getting dates directly can be a little tricky as the type of feedback varies. In Tinder you only know about mutual matches, and never about people liking you when you didn’t like them. In POF, you are informed when someone likes you, and you receive messages from anyone. happn (I wish they’d capitalise their first letter, I hate starting a sentence with a lower-case letter!) also only report mutual matches, as do Lovoo. Badoo give some indication of who’s visited your profile and those that who have liked you.

So how much success have I had? Well on Tinder I had one match from someone who lives in a different country (must have been visiting the UK at the time to appear), and that’s it. Given I’ve been swiping nearly every day, that’s a massively disappointing hit-rate. With POF I’ve managed a couple of matches, but not had any replies when trying to start a conversation. However, I had received a lot of likes and messages from non-matches, so some women clearly like me. The downside all these women seem to be at least 10 years older than me, and look at least 20 years older. I’ve also tried messaging several women who I’ve taking a liking too from the search, but haven’t received a single reply. Sending messages can be tiring, as I don’t just want to say ‘Hi there!’, and rather say something based on their profile to start a conversation; so it does need some thought, which after a day working and dealing with the kids, I don’t much energy left to do.

On happn I’ve had one match (after 8 months of nothing!), and tried to start a chat, but got no reply. Lovoo, I had a match from someone far too far away. Badoo has shown a little more promise in that I’ve actually struck up a couple of conversations on there, but they seem not to be the most articulate women in the world. One word answers are bad enough, but one letter answers?! What’s happening to the literacy in this country?

So what next?

I know I’m not the greatest catch out there, and being a man, I’m up against a vast amount of competition, but I really was hoping for better. Have I stepped over the age threshold where I’m now considered too old by most women (except for 50-somethings it seems)? Does my profile stink? Are my photos rotten (personally I think they give a good impression of me)? Is my particular taste in women not reciprocated by those women? It’s not like I haven’t put the effort in on the apps, searching on most days, so being very active. I’m really feeling like the invisible man now, without the actual benefits of being invisible.

So what do you think I should do?

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In the Friendzone

dating8So I’ve suffered the ignominy of been ghosted, and wondered what else the world of online dating relationships could throw at me. I had met another woman via one of the dating sites a few months ago and we clicked on the first date and starting meeting up on a reasonably regular basis. Bear in mind my situation of being a working parent with little spare time, so the regularity of these were every couple of weeks or so.

From day one we seemed to get on pretty well and soon seemed to feel relaxed with each other. We’d chat on the phone every couple of days or so, and talk about everything under the sun. There seemed to be a good chemistry building and we started to understand each other’s little quirks and happy to wind each other up a bit. When she’s had some bad days I’ve tried to comfort and cheer her up, and be a sympathetic ear for her. I really felt like we were in a proper relationship where both of us could be ourselves and not have to put on a ‘dating face’ for each other.

However, there was one major thing lacking. After a few months and many dates, I had never had more than a peck on the cheek from her, usually when saying goodbye. She also seemed unwilling to invite me to her place, even though she had a place of her own. She had shown some interest in visiting me, but seemed to find excuses not to at the last minute. She seemed to show no desire to take the relationship to the next level, to use baseball parlance: to first base. I’d rather use a cricket analogy being British, so I’ve just taken the first wicket, but the second wicket doesn’t appear to be coming and the batsmen have made a century partnership. Any hint of flirtation from me seems to get an abrupt put-down. In all my previous relationships, things got a lot more affectionate way faster than this (at least 5 wickets down within a couple of months!).

So it seems I’ve ended up in the dreaded friendzone and that’s where the relationship is stuck. Now, I can understand the friendzone phenomenon when you’ve met someone in ‘real life’ where there hasn’t been the pre-selection of a dating website, and the mutual attraction isn’t clear. But I met this woman on a dating website, where she has chosen me as someone she finds attractive. So have I turned out to be unattractive to her, but just pleasant company to be with? Have I done something to be be a turn-off? Is there something in her psyche that prevents her showing affection and desire?

I’m confused and dejected over this, and not sure whether to stick or twist on this one. We seem to get on well and enjoy each other’s company, but I’m keen to have more than just another friend.

Ghosted

dating7Where’s Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray and the other two when you need them? For the uninitiated, ghosting is when somebody stops communicating with you and they just disappear off the face of the Earth. But unlike ghosts, who may come back to haunt you, these people never return.

It appears I’ve become a victim of ghosting and it has affected me more than I would have imagined. I’m a pretty pragmatic and realistic person, who never takes much for granted, but this particular ghosting was quite unexpected and has left my questioning my own personality and judgement of others.

The Beginning

I managed to get myself a very rare match on one of the online dating apps, and after striking up a conversation with the woman, we organised a first date. All went surprisingly well on the date, she was extremely attractive, intelligent and good company. Too good to be true I thought, so I was expecting that to be the end of things. If you’re going to get ghosted, it’ll be straight after the first date; but no, she’s kept in contact afterwards. We met for a couple of further dates, and we began to enjoy each other’s company and I began to feel more relaxed with her, and we had plenty of messaging between us on a daily basis. So things were looking good.

Busy Lives

We were both busy people, both parents with full-time jobs, so finding time to meet up was difficult. But we both understood that, and she always seemed keen to meet again once we’ve got our various distractions out of the way (usual things like winter bugs, weather, work and so on). There was even talk about maybe meeting at either of our houses, which of course would be a major step forward. That idea certainly got my interest up! It was just a case of finding a suitable day to do this, and in the meantime we kept the messages going, discussing our daily lives, and learning more about each other. Everything was going well, and I really felt we were forming a good relationship that had serious potential.

The Silence

She sent me a message one morning, which was nothing unusual in content or timing. I replied to it a couple of hours later, and said nothing particularly unusual, just something benign, but the sort of the thing that would normally be answered. We were never quick repliers to messages, as we’re busy people, so not getting a reply for several hours was normal and fine. However, I’d noticed by message hadn’t been read, which was less usual. I followed up with a couple more short messages to check if she was fine, but they weren’t read either. I was now starting to get worried, as she would normally reply within a day, and would have at least read them, but not this time. I decided to call her in the evening the next day, but it either went straight to voicemail or just rang unanswered.

The Concern for Her

After a couple of days of no response to my messages, which were still unread, or to my calls (just a couple of them, I didn’t want to appear overly persistant), I assumed she was having some problems. Maybe a family problem? One of her children was ill? Was she ill, or worse? I was now getting very worried for her. Why hadn’t she even let me know?

All I had was her phone number, I didn’t know her address, and I didn’t even know her surname (she did casually mention it, but I didn’t really mentally take note at the time). So there wasn’t much I could do. So all I could was wait and hope she’s get back to me. So I waited and waited…

The Realisation of Ghosting

After a few days, it began to dawn on me that I’d been ghosted. She clearly didn’t want me contacting her as a later attempt at a message didn’t even get delivered, so I seemed to have been blocked. Her profile on the dating app has also been blocked to me. I wasn’t just been ignored, I’d been actively blocked off from her life. I tried to recollect what may have triggered this, but there was nothing to suggest she wasn’t interested anymore. She never read the reply to the last message she sent me, so it’s not like there’s anything I said that would have caused the sudden cutting off. Maybe she had another man (or men) on the go from her dating activities, and decided to plump for one of them instead of me. It would have been nice to know where I stood, but I was just left hanging for days on end without knowing. In fact, I still don’t know the reason.

This rejection really hit me hard, as we had been on a few dates and really felt we were gelling and getting closer. On the last date, she was getting quite flirtacious, and the body language was very positive, so I things were really heading in the right direction. She was always on my mind, and I hadn’t felt that way about anyone for a very long time. I simply do not meet women like her, so I didn’t want to miss out on making something of this. So when I realised she had rejected me after such a build up, it felt like the last fish in the ocean had been hooked away from under my hose.

The Undigified End

What really rankles with a ghosting like this, is that she never had the decency to let me know it had ended. Even just a message to say “I’m not interested anymore, so will not be talking to you anymore”, would have been better. At least it would have been an instant line in the sand, and I could move on. I would have preferred an explanation, so I knew what I could work on if it was something at fault with me. To me, she is just a cold-hearted coward. Does she do this to all the men she meets? I can tolerate a ghosting after a first date, as it almost goes with the territory, but not after a series of increasingly better dates.

Even now, several weeks after I was cut off I still think about her, and wonder what I could have done to not get rejected. I’m always wanting to know more about her, but I don’t want to end up as some bitter stalker, trying to track her down. That would just be bad from every angle, and I just have to move on, and respect the fact that she’s now back to being a person I don’t know anymore.

Photos that Fail

Your main photo on a dating app is so critical to get matches, but some many people seem to kill their chances by putting something on there that will just either scare people off or just get ignored. Your image is going to be looked at for just a second, so you need to make it count. Here are some of the typical mistake I’ve seen when picking my way though Tinder, POF and other sites. As I’m a male looking for women, it’s very much geared towards women’s pictures, but many of the mistakes would apply to men’s pictures too.

Distant Shot

dating5_1OK, you may be stood in the most picturesque setting in the world, but I’m not here to look at the scenery. I’m trying to see you on a 13 cm phone display, so a 1 cm tall version of you isn’t going to show me much. I can probably just about make out you’re a human, but not much more.

Bad crop

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Do you have a mouth and nose? You do? So why not show them? Some crops are arty, some are just crap photography. Either way, it would be good to see your whole face. I’ve also noticed a tight face crop is popular with the larger lady, to try and hide as much as possible. This is a shame, as there’s plenty of men who love women on the cuddly side, so don’t be shy to show that.

Body only shot

dating5_3 OK, you’ve got the Mitchell brothers tucked into your skimpy top and a tummy flatter than Holland, but why the decapitation?

Crowd of people

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So which one are you? Do I need to look at your other photos to work out which one you are? Or do I take the gamble you really are the hot one in the photo and not the one that gives me nightmares?

With another man

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So who is this man you’re with? You husband, boyfriend or ex? Even it’s just a friend or brother (which in some parts of the world doesn’t stop them being the boyfriend too), I want to meet someone where I’m the main man in your life.

With your child

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I’m a parent, and don’t mind dating women who are parents too. But if I want to think of romance and sexy things, children are a serious turn-off. Is our first date going to be in an indoor soft-play area?

Not even you

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You might love horse riding or have a few cute dog, but I’d actually rather know what you look like. Unless you really do look like that, then I suggest a more specialist website. Even worse is a photo of some location you’ve been to, or some stupid ‘inspirational’ quote.

Back turned

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I do admire a shapely derrière, but I would like to see some face to go with the bass.

Mobile phone obstruction

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I know taking selfies can be tricky, but try and keep the thing away from your face if using a mirror. You can still make it worse by having the flash go off too, so end up resembling the nativity star.

Shades

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OK, I know we tend to take more photos while on holiday and on sunny days, so you’ll have your sunglasses on. But they hide half your face and the eyes are the most important part of it. Maybe hiding a slightly alternative fact when it comes to your age maybe?

Not enough pixels

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Cameras on phones these days have plenty of megapixels, and we’re not needing to compress our JPGs down to 1k any more. So how did you photo appear like it’s been taken by a 1950s early NASA mission? Or is it just a cut-out of some photo of someone else you found online?

Duckface

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This is trend that’s been going for a year or two now. Is it a Kardashian thing (whatever they are)? Anyway, it makes you look stupid, not sexy. I like ducks, particularly with hoisin sauce.

Crown of flowers

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Another trend, which I suspect is from Snapchat (not a user myself), where a GCI crown of flowers is plonked on your head. Not only that, the ‘enhancement’ tool also does something weird to your eyes, so you resemble the lovechild of a zombie and Pokemon.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m sure there’s plenty of other types of bad photos out there, but these are the ones that I’ve seen repeatedly over the past few weeks. I don’t think anyone expects professional studio quality photos, just one which shows your whole face without any distractions, adornments or modifications. A full body shot is fine too, as long as it’s close enough up and of a good enough quality to show your face clearly too.

As for facial expressions, I personally find a smile most appealing, but don’t mind other expressions as long as it’s natural and you don’t look angry or upset. If you’re made out of Lego, then the choice of expression can be rather limited.

It’ll be interesting to hear of any other types of typical photo failures out there. Do men have different bad habits when it comes to their pictures?

Women are Like Buses

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No, women aren’t big and red, emit noxious fumes and get ridden a lot. What I actually mean is that, like buses, you wait ages for one to turn up, and when it happens two appear. Yes, I’ve finally had some sort of success on the online dating game, and found some women who seem to take some interest in me. I’ve had a few matches, but most of those didn’t really progress past the first exchange of messages, but two did actually progress into meaningful conversations. Not only did they progress to online conversations, but into real life meetings!

Before I go onto more gory details about these two, I’ll rewind a bit and describe how the searching and matching has been going.

Which site provided the most success?

So, I’ve been registered with POF, Tinder and happn; all for pretty much the same period. All three allow a certain amount of regionality to your search, so I picked similar sized areas for each. While each site lets you know about matches (i.e. you’ve ticked someone who’s also ticked you), POF also lets you know who is interested in you (whereas happn and Tinder keep in you in the dark unless you also like them). So this is quite a useful feature with POF, as it at least gives you an idea to how many women like you and what type of women you attract. On Tinder and happn you haven’t a clue, so I may have hundreds of women liking me, but they are also ones I don’t like.

So far, after about 6 weeks of activity I’ve had this number of matches:

  • POF: 3 mutual matches and 55 ‘they said yes’ (i.e. they like me, but I haven’t ‘liked’ them).
  • Tinder: 5 matches.
  • happn: nothing, zilch, nada, not a sausage (not that I’m looking for sausages!).

With the matches, I’ve started a conversation on all of them, and 2 of the POF ones matured into someone more, whereas only on the Tinder one has really got into any sort of meaningful conversation.

So I would say POF has been the most fruitful in terms of finding women I like, who also may also like me. Very disappointed with happn though; I would have hoped for maybe one match on that.

Getting to know my matches

So two of the POF matches actually started to have a conversation with me. They both started at a pretty similar time (within a couple of days of each other), and both were easy to talk to online, with some shared interests and nice conversation. With both, they soon moved to communication via Whatsapp, so moving outside of the dating site, which made things easier and also I felt some progress was being made. At this early stage I was still expecting to get blown out at some point, so didn’t want to pick one over the other. Both women had similarities and differences, but I couldn’t pick on over the other without having met them. After all, I’d read about so-called catfish, and wanted to make sure they were really who they were in the pictures. Also, as so many first dates become the last dates, I didn’t want to turn one down only to find the other one isn’t interested too.

Being a single parent that works full time means finding time for a date is pretty difficult. The two women also worked full time, so this didn’t help (however, at least I knew I was dealing with reasonably self-sufficient women, which is a plus). However, after a while I managed to fix up first dates with both, within a couple of days of each other.

The first dates

I don’t really want to go into two much detail here, as there’s also the chance the women concerned might come across this blog and realise I’m talking about them! I met up with the first woman, and she seemed to match the woman in her picture (to be honest, her photo wasn’t a very good one, so it was pretty difficult to tell!), and seemed attractive to me. It was a good date, we chatted freely, had a laugh, and it all seemed to go well. After the date, she contacted me to let her know she got home OK, and to check on me which was nice. So there was a good feeling about this one; although the pessimist in me knew not count on it being a done deal quite yet.

The date with the second woman was a couple of days later, and I was a little more nervous about this one. Her photos in her profile were pretty stunning, so I was very wary I was being duped. How can anyone that attractive show an interest in me? Well, as it turned out, she turned up to the date on time and really was the woman in the photos. Not only that, she looked even better in the flesh (I say flesh – she was fully dressed, but my imagination was ignited!)! At this stage I was expecting her to take one look at me and do a runner, but no, she was down-to-earth, chatty and soon made me feel more relaxed (I really had butterflies, it was like being 17 again). Just like the first woman, the date turned out well and she contacted me afterwards which was a good sign.

The dilemma

So I’ve now had first dates with two women, and against all odds, they both take an interest in me. Both have carried on talking to me since the first dates, and I’ve even had second dates with both. I’m now in a tricky situation:

  • Do I now choose one over the other?
  • Are they both convinced about me yet?
  • How many dates do I have before I know I’m in a relationship with one?
  • Are they having dates with other men? Both were very coy about this, and I can’t believe the second woman hasn’t got a hoard of suitors after her.
  • Do I focus on one, and keep the other on the back-burner?

I can’t even pick a favourite between the two at this stage, so I pretty torn. But I suppose it’s better to have to have the choice of two than none at all. I’m still expecting to get blown out by both of them at some stage, so maybe I may never need to make the decision.