Online dating update – my shameful confession

I’m supposed to be on a date right now.

I chickened out.

I feel bad about it, ashamed, like a child who’s scared to make new friends, especially given all the hard work everyone put in helping me create my online dating profile. The trouble is, although you got my requirements spot on, you missed one crucial ‘must-have’ for my ideal man.

‘Must creep up on me slowly, catch my eye in a bookshop, be the last person in the world I expect to fall in love with.’ Pathetically romantic I know, but there you go.

Tonight I was having dinner cooked for me by a man I met for lunch last week. This was going to be our second date. He was a perfectly nice, normal man – attractive, French, a musician, nothing not to like, and yet all day I was just overwhelmed by the desire to instead spend the evening lying on the sofa eating crisps and watching repeats of Jonathan Creek.

So I sent a text and cancelled. (A text. I’m not even brave enough to pick up the phone). “I’m sorry,” I said, “I’m just not ready for the whole dating thing. I hope you meet someone lovely who’s not so flakey.”

“But you are lovely,” he replied, “I agree with the flakey bit though.”

I had a lunch date on Wednesday too. I cancelled that three hours beforehand, with an excuse about work. I have been busy this week, that bit’s true enough, but I could probably have found the time. If I’d been brave enough.

My friend Suzie says I’m just not the online dating type. In my most self-destructive moments I wonder if the prince was right, if I’m just too fickle.

I know deep down that I’m being too hard on myself. If it doesn’t feel right it doesn’t feel right, right? I should stop trying to force it and someone will come along when I least expect it. But will they? And if they do, how will I know, if I can’t even get as far as a second date?

I’ve hidden my online profile, and now I’m hiding at home on my own eating toast.

Maybe I’m not ready. Maybe I didn’t like him enough. I’m not sure. I don’t trust my judgment – am I being sensible, listening to my heart and following my instinct, or am I just a big cowardly custard, terrified of making myself vulnerable, of opening my heart to someone new?

Photo credit – Contando Estrelas

46 Comments

  1. 9 July, 2010 / 7:42 pm

    Good for you for having the strength to choose to stay at home!

  2. 9 July, 2010 / 7:43 pm

    This is a hard one, if you were someone that was asking me (which reminds me I need to email you) then I would say you need to get out more but I think this is more than that. You know what you want and you know that you aren’t going to get it through online dating.

    Bet you a fiver though that someone comes in before the end of the year, not in a book shop though. Maybe a news agents!

    • 9 July, 2010 / 9:06 pm

      A fiver eh? I might hold you to that. It can pay for all the magazines I end up buying from hanging around too much in newsagents :-)

  3. 9 July, 2010 / 7:48 pm

    Don’t beat yourself up. If it didn’t feel right, why waste his time and yours. I myself are a crisp and Jonathon Creek lover too – so I see your dilemma! Although, I would have to throw in a few vinos for good measure. You will know when you’ve met the right one because of that chemical pull. That butterfly feeling in your tummy. Where you can’t settle or concentrate on one thing. You remember you’ve had it before most likely with the “Prince” but it will be different, because you’ll be in a different place. Enjoy Jonathon Creek and your crisps – incididentally what flavour?!

    • 9 July, 2010 / 9:05 pm

      I couldn’t find any crisps, so I went for toast in the end. One bit with marmite and then one bit with lemon curd. (For pudding).

  4. 9 July, 2010 / 7:54 pm

    Josephine,

    I normally feel compelled to write something that is aimed squarely at your funny bone, and though I did laugh at several points in your post, I don’t think you are feeling like being teased right now.

    There is nothing, I repeat nothing wrong with having high standards. The first step has to be finding someone who, when sitting across from you, over some fish and chips, makes you feel a warm glow deep inside. It should be easy. If it is to be a person who peeks through the shelves, past Jack London’s ‘Call of the Wild’, and then makes a funny comment, then that is where you must set the bar.

    I am not one to give dating advice. I don’t date and haven’t in years. I simply lost interest. I found a rhythm to my life that suits me and I have never been happier. The dating for me, just filled me with grief, because I was trying to fit a square peg into a dodecagon hole (I like the name for 12 sided polygons…saying it out loud makes me laugh…go ahead try it.)

    I think that you will be fine and will find a lovely person to hang out with, have a bit of tea, and to take long walks on the beach while discussing your similar hatred of cliches in romance novels.

    Though I don’t know you well, I know from your writing, that on a scale of 1 to 37, you are one of the rare people who gets a 37. If you realize this, and focus on that feeling deep inside of you, it will lead you to the perfect (which means perfectly flawed) Prince.

    Hang in there.

    Sincerely,

    Brian

    • 9 July, 2010 / 9:04 pm

      Brian, you are always welcome to poke fun. I think I need it sometimes – someone to just say ‘get over yourself!’
      Thank you for your lovely thoughtful comment though x x

  5. 9 July, 2010 / 8:20 pm

    Brian, you are very wise. Jo, clearly people have the same view of you as I have. You are not fickle, and you are indeed a 37 (where did that number come from Brian?!) and there is a male 37 out there for you somewhere. But I bet he doesn’t go on an online dating site, and I bet he doesn’t have most of the cooking done by lunchtime…..

  6. 9 July, 2010 / 8:22 pm

    Oh I don’t blame you. There is something terribly prescribed and unromantic about online dating. Typically people fall for each other *after* spending quite a bit of time in each other’s company. With online dating you have to create an artificial environment for that to happen. I did it a while back. Now that I’m going to be single again I’m not sure that I want to return to that. We’ll see. It’s just so… (cringe)… I don’t know… non-spontaneous maybe?

    • 9 July, 2010 / 9:02 pm

      I totally agree – it’s like ‘here we are then – what do you think?’. I love the feeling you get when you *like* someone and neither of you know how the other feels, and you’re just friends or colleagues or something. You just don’t get that with online dating. You both know why you’re there, there is no mystery.

  7. 9 July, 2010 / 8:49 pm

    Oh, Sweetie! You ARE experiencing a crisis of confidence.

    Here’s the thing about online dating (or any kind of dating, really … but especially online): you can’t be projecting yourself too far into the future before you’ve even met someone (or when you’ve just met him). This doesn’t mean you lower your standards; it just means recognizing that a different dynamic is operating.

    Because you already know way more about a potential date online from his profile than you’d ever know about an intriguing-looking man across the bookstore (unless you’re a mind-reader), you FEEL like you should be farther along emotionally when you meet him … but really, he’s a complete stranger. And it feels too much like you’re making a conscious choice … but really, the only choice you’re making is to be open to finding out more about someone. You’re not heading to the altar (or even to bed) just because you “make plans” to meet.

    People do “sneak up on you” in the most wonderful of ways … and sometimes that takes a conversation or two or three. I remember meeting one potential date at the door and thinking, “Okay, he’s not very attractive; I can relax.” Several hours into the afternoon, I was thinking, “This man is adorable!” Just take it slowly, go easy on yourself, and be honest about how awkward and new the whole experience is for you. Anyone who really likes you will respect that and go slowly as well. And make sure you have fun!

    By the way, if someone cooking dinner for you feels a little intense on the second date … and I can certainly understand why it might … then just suggest another activity that keeps you both outside and occupied. How about a picnic? A boat ride?

    Just remember: Try not to compare every experience you’re ACTUALLY having to the one you THINK you should be having. Okay? Now, take a breathe, wipe the toast crumbs off your mouth … and go out there!

    • 9 July, 2010 / 9:00 pm

      Oh Jane I know! I know all those things! What is annoying me most is that I can’t just go, have a good time, see what happens – I have to THINK so much about it, be so bloody self-indulgently analytical! I know so well from experience that a good relationship takes time to develop. I just can’t get away from the fact that the online dating scenario feels so forced. There is much more pressure to make a conscious choice much sooner than you would normally – you do it as soon as you look at a profile.
      *breathes deeply*

      • 9 July, 2010 / 9:31 pm

        Please don’t take this the wrong way, but … have you ever tried taking an anti-anxiety medication? I happen to be on one at the moment (while dealing with unemployment and other issues), and it helps me stay calm in a lot of situations that might otherwise throw me for a loop right now. (I thought I’d be a nervous wreck in the MRI tube last year, but no … totally relaxed and even reassuring the technician, who was used to people panicking!) It might help you fend off all those thoughts racing around and just approach online dating as an interesting experiment.

        Three good friends (who are way more naturally calm and confident than I am) met their husbands online in the last two years. I’ve met two of them, and they’re terrific guys. In all three cases, it took one person a long time to meet someone, and the other person hardly any time at all … so there’s no “expect it to happen this way.” I’d be trying it myself if I weren’t unemployed; in fact, I WAS just starting to try it when I lost my job, and looking for a new job is tough and time-consuming enough right now.

        • 10 July, 2010 / 6:36 am

          lol – oh dear – I have totally made a big deal over this haven’t I? My doctor did actually offer me some a few months ago – but that was before I had my implant out and I am generally very happy and calm now – honest! I think that’s why I was so spooked by the whole dating anxiety, and why I cancelled. Normally I take things so much in my stride that being anxious about this was like a massive flashing sign for me that something wasn’t right. I don’t know if it was the guy, or the whole set up, but Marketingtoilk is right – it is supposed to be fun, and most things are for me, but this just wasn’t.

  8. 9 July, 2010 / 8:51 pm

    That’s “take a breath” … remember to breathe!

    : )

  9. 9 July, 2010 / 9:46 pm

    Too much pressure, pressure, pressure! You’re right not to go, it’s not being a chicken though, it’s brave and honest. But I do wonder if it’s maybe less about giving someone a chance and more about giving yourself a chance. Any of these guys may not turn out to be your Mr Firth but you might have a good night, easy company and a laugh. He may even give you some compliments and tell you how cool you are. I think the Dark Prince has a lot to answer for; douche bag.

    Oh and I think French Man’s ‘You are lovely’ response sounded pretty sweet. Now. Who’s on Jonathan Ross? :) x

    • 10 July, 2010 / 6:38 am

      I think you might be right Caroline. Every keeps saying it’s fine to have high expectations and set the bar high, that it’s good that I know what I want, but I think often it is less a case of having high expectations of the other person, and more about having unrealistic expectations of myself – what if I’m not pretty enough, not interesting enough, not funny enough…?

  10. Lauren
    9 July, 2010 / 9:48 pm

    I tried online dating for a bit. And it IS fun and for some people it COMPLETELY works – but I’m afraid it just wasn’t for me. I have to admit, my heart really wasn’t in it. Which is why I think I took the piss out of my dates on the blog I did! I just preferred to meet someone a bit more… organically (sorry wanky way to say it, but best way to describe). And I was aware that might never happen when I decided not to do online dating any more, but I thought I’d take that risk. Just do what feels right. Even if that does mean no more Frenching with the Frenchie.

    • 10 July, 2010 / 6:41 am

      Organically is a good word. Despite having a bit of a reputation for being terribly organised and driven, I’m not actually much of a planner. I can take an idea and make it happen, but I don’t think in advance about what those ideas might be, or when I want them to happen, I prefer just to go with the flow and suddenly be inspired. I guess it makes sense then that online dating doesn’t really suit me.

  11. Lauren
    9 July, 2010 / 9:52 pm

    Oh and PS – remember there are always flashing dancefloors on which to meet men when you have completely called off the search…

    • 10 July, 2010 / 6:42 am

      lol that’s true! *plans night out in dodgy club down the road with flashing dance floors in the hope of meeting handsome Irish boy*

  12. 9 July, 2010 / 10:33 pm

    Dating is supposed to be fun. If it wasn’t feeling fun for you, then you were right to cancel.
    Jane is so right when she said people can sneak up on you, but it might take a few conversations first.
    I married my best friend, who i’d told i was never going to be interested in anything more than friendship.
    It often happens like that.
    So don’t expect the prince tapping you on the shoulder, but do do it your way, without pressure, when it feels right.

    http://marketingtomilk.wordpress.com

  13. Lucy
    10 July, 2010 / 7:20 am

    I agree with Jane. You need DRUGS. Some horse tranquilisers and you’ll be leaping into bed with Geoff Capes without a worry in the world. That’s always worked well for me.

  14. Lucy
    10 July, 2010 / 7:20 am

    I may not have quite captured the heart of Jane’s advice to be honest

    • 10 July, 2010 / 7:43 am

      Hmmm… got quite captured the essence, no. You’d have me in bed with every man I saw though.

  15. 10 July, 2010 / 7:34 am

    I think, also, dinner at someone’s house is a tough one to negotiate from an intimacy point of view (not to mention the whole s..e..x.. thing which looms rather larger next door to a bedroom than in a public space). You need to know someone quite well, in my view, to stand in their kitchen helping them or watching them cook.

    And maybe it’s that that brought the exhaustion on? I think keep fishing. and well done for following your instincts.

    • 10 July, 2010 / 7:42 am

      You’re totally right, I was thinking it was a bit full on – if I invited someone to my house for dinner it would be because I was expecting them to stay over! He was a tiny bit sneaky about it too – phoned and said he wanted to invite me to dinner. I said lovely thanks, and THEN he said he was going to practice his cooking skills on me – so suddenly I was going to his house without having realised that was what I was saying yes too. *Over-analyses some more*

  16. Bob
    10 July, 2010 / 10:23 am

    I think the whole dinner at his place thing is a bit full on a second date is there was little or no chemistry on the first date.

    But if you got on well on the first date, and he doesn’t look like an axe murdered, why not?

    Good luck on your search for the perfect guy.

    • 10 July, 2010 / 8:33 pm

      Well, he did sort of kiss me on the first date. In the street…. The whole ‘dinner at his house’ thing did feel a tad quick though.

  17. 10 July, 2010 / 3:15 pm

    I think you have to go with your gut feeling and since you had met him already, he obviously wasn’t right. I don’t think I could do the whole online dating thing because I’d need to meet someone in person to see if we would actually click. I’d find the conversing online bit difficult if I had never met them. Having said that I know people it has worked for. There are some great comments here. Trust your instinct, don’t beat yourself up but give yourself a chance, when you feel ready. That all sounded very serious. Maybe you need to throw a party!

    • 10 July, 2010 / 8:35 pm

      I love throwing parties! Especially fancy dress. I had a fab burlesque party last year. It isn’t long though since I had my Grease themed birthday party complete with hired juke box, so I think I have to wait a bit…

  18. Shireen
    11 July, 2010 / 9:22 pm

    you are so not chicken! hold out for the bookshop guy for sure…he is just taking his time, but he will arrive. romance is not dead!
    oh and we are going to a fancy dress party next month…if you feel the urge to dress up too, come with!!
    we are going as finn and rachel from glee!! oh dear.

    • 12 July, 2010 / 1:27 pm

      Haha! I do love a bit of fancy dress, I’ve never watched Glee though – is it any good?

      I went to a party yesterday but despite climbing a tree and dangling upside from a rope I didn’t see anyone who caught my eye!

  19. 24 July, 2010 / 6:44 pm

    It’s tough! I think you’re right though, there’s no point pushing it, when you meet the right guy you’ll just know – that’s pretty romantic however you meet him!

    • 25 July, 2010 / 10:35 am

      That’s what I holding out for! I’ll have to spend a lot of the summer holidays loitering in book shops :-)

  20. lily
    10 August, 2010 / 11:43 pm

    Glad to read these comments. I was just feeling the same way. I’ve tried these dating sites before and have felt the pressure. But I think the person who says you are projecting too far into the future is right. I do the same thing but it’s hard not to do it. I don’t want to “waste” people’s time and seem like I’m flakey. At the same time I feel like I don’t want to “not try” and regret it. I’m not sure what the answer is but I think the key for someone like me and perhaps you is to not spend too much time at it. If you’re like me, you already have a lot going on in your life. I hope you meet someone and if not soon, then I hope you are still having a lot of fun and enjoying those crisps. Thanks for posting your thoughts.

    • 12 August, 2010 / 8:12 pm

      Glad you enjoyed the post and the comments. I know what you mean about not wanting to waste anyone’s time or seem flakey. What I really want to say is ‘can we just go out a dozen times and you might grow on me?’ but it doesn’t really work that way does it?!

  21. jane
    21 March, 2012 / 7:16 pm

    I know this is old, but I felt I needed to chime in and say you were right not to go. Don’t do internet dating!! The men on there are all messed up, entitled, and downright cruel. It’s almost a sign of desperation and loneliness, and no one wants desperate. You’re right, meeting someone naturally is so much better, not to mention healthier. Technology helps some things, but in my opinion it really hurts some things as well (dating). Good luck to you!!!

  22. Rachel Day
    18 August, 2012 / 8:51 am

    Hi there. I am at the exactly the same place as you were then when you wrote this, I too am a single mum aged 34. I would be really interested to see where you are now 2 years down the line?

    • 23 August, 2012 / 8:13 am

      Hi Rachel, well, I’m happy to say I am actually in a relationship now! BUT, it came about quite naturally, not through any online dating or anything like that – it was a classic ‘friend of a friend’ type scenario. It wouldn’t have happened though if I hadn’t let myself get dragged to an awful gig in a local nightclub, so goes to show I think that you just have to say ‘yes’ to things!

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