Online Dating

Online Dating in Ireland 2019

I see myself as somewhat of a pioneer in the online dating realm. I met my ex-wife online back in 2002, not only LONG before online dating became cool but almost before the internet itself! Or at least before broadband became widely available. I had to do all of my online courting via dialup. I’m still paying off the phone bills. I remember hiding the fact that we’d met online for at least 10 years afterwards. The shame! But it seems everyone is at it these days whether they’re in a relationship already or not!

The website we used back in the day was RSVP.ie, long since gone but it had some decent features for 17 years ago. There were profiles with photos and bios, search facilities and the infamous chat room which is were I ran into my wife to be initially. I paid my subscription fee for one month only and didn’t need to extend as I found what I came for within that short period!

So fast forward 17 years and 2 breakups later and I’m back online dating again. So what’s changed? Well for a start there’s an insane amount of websites and apps dedicated to online dating these days. Most people know the main ones or one at least and that would be Tinder but me being me I wanted to do a bit of research into the best ones depending on what you’re looking for so I ended up on the following 7 concurrently!

Tinder

This seems to be the King and Queen of the online dating sites and the first one you check out if you’re going down that road. For me it’s a little too simplistic and I always heard and thought it was for hookups only. It’s mostly based on looks. You swipe right if you like the look of someone and left if you don’t. If 2 people swipe right on each other then you get to message. There’s room to input some bio text and stats but most profiles don’t seem to bother so it’s purely looks based which makes it hard to see it as anything but a hookup site. I managed one date so far in 2 months on Tinder and it was pretty crap. No hookup and no second date!

Plenty of Fish

I’d heard about this one from a friend of mine who seemed to be having great luck with it. The best thing about it is that it’s completely free to message people. Each profile has a list of specifications such as height, hair colour, age etc but also a bio section where people get to sell themselves properly so it feels more like proper dating that tinder. You can get more features such as swipe matches ala Tinder and the ability to filter connections, see extended profiles etc, but free messaging is all anyone should need really. I’ve had 2 or 3 dates from this one so it’s been the most successful for me so far.

Badoo

This one is pretty much a clone of Tinder with a few more features but it’s mostly swipe based with little bio information too. I’d say it’s the place to go if you want to hook up with an Eastern European! Messaging can be free depending on the recipients settings, ie – you can choose to be only contacted by premium members which gives a little bit of quality control.

Match.com

This one is the most expensive and you can do very little if anything with it in free mode. However, it has the most advanced features and possibly the most mature user base. It’s got the yes/no swiping/clicking thing that tinder popularised but also Winking, Favouriting, a very advanced search system and a “Virtual Coach” who helps you find a match! I’ve yet to have a date from here though!

Academic Singles / Be2

This feels like a bit of a scam site to me. You sign up for €20 but the small print says that from the second month on it’s €50 per month. And to cancel your subscription you have to FAX or post a cancellation letter to some address in Luxembourg. I faxed and emailed them and got no reply so I had to get my bank involved to request a charge back and cancellation of any further payments. I’m still waiting to hear the result of that.

Having said all that I’ve actually managed a date from it and it’s a fully functioning dating site, albeit fairly basic. As the name suggests it’s frequented mostly by professionals including teachers, doctors, vets etc.. Very few girls have photos up for some reason though and there’s no phone app.

Bumble

This is an interesting one. It’s works along the same lines as Tinder and Badoo re swiping but if you match with someone only the girl can message first. That seems to be a filter mechanism against the dick pic brigade but I’m not sure it works well. The users seem to be mostly young professionals. It also has a Best Friend and Business mode.

Connecting Singles

This is a fairly basic, old fashioned and slightly buggy site but mostly free with free messaging. I had very little interest from anyone Irish. It seems to be mostly foreigners on it. I had a girl from Finland express a real interest in me for example but considering an hours drive down the road is putting me off some girls, Finland is a bit much in terms of distance. A lot of the girls on it havn’t logged in in years so this site is basically pointless. There’s no phone app either.

Facebook!?

I just wanted to quickly mention Facebook at the end of this article. Yes I know it’s not a dating site per say but effectively it can be if you like! If users indicate their relationship status (or lack thereof) then why not try connect!? Also, I had the brainwave of maybe running an ad that targets every single girl in a certain age range and certain location who have “Single” in their profile! Too desperate!? I dunno..

I should also mention that Facebook are introducing a dating element to the site soon which could be a game changer. The USA initially then Europe at some stage in 2020. More info here:

https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-dating-in-the-us/

Final Thoughts

Best Site/APP

So I’ve been online dating now for 2 months at the time of writing. How has it gone? Well, I’ve had roughly at least 1 date from nearly all the sites I’ve tried so it’s hard to say which is best although Plenty of Fish is slightly in the lead.

Annoyances

You see the same people across most of the sites and it always amazes me how bad people are at writing and selling themselves. Photos are mostly diabolical. Despite the proliferation of very good camera devices in everyone’s pockets these days people don’t seem to be able to simply point their phone at themselves and take a reasonable picture. A lot of profile photos are either blurred, too dark, have daft SnapChat filters (40 something year old women!? Come on..), are group photos where you’ve no clue which one they are or worst of all there’s either no photo or a photo of someone’s pet as the only profile pic!?

The single worst thing about all the dating sites though is “Ghosting”. It’s a new term I’ve learned since getting back into this lark and it happens when you match with someone and message them and either you get completely ignored or you chat for a while, even get on well then they go mysteriously quiet, without even the decency and manners to tell you they are no longer interested or have met someone or whatever. I remember this happening 17 years ago when I first tried online dating so some things never change!

The only thing I’ll say in defence of girls who ignore contact is that it seems girls, if they are in any way pretty or nice sounding, will get inundated with messages from all kinds of eejits just looking for a shag, to the point where most girls profiles, rather than using the space to sell themselves use it to request no dick pics, hookups, one night stands, liars, cheats, married men, etc…the list of “what I don’t wants” is endless which just puts an annoying negative spin on everything. Basically, seen one profile and you’ve seen them all. The rare positive and interesting ones that stand out are what attract me but I still get ignored when I message!

The best thing about Online Dating

I have to say that online dating is probably the best and most efficient way of meeting a potential partner in this day and age. It’s just a very efficient, easy and logical way to meet people with similar interests? Yes it’s a bit like online shopping for a partner and feels a little weird initially but you do actually get to meet people in real life eventually and many people have met their life partners online. I’ve not met “The one” yet but I’ve met some cool people, made friends, learned a lot about myself, had some fun and good experiences and I’ve no doubt I’ll meet someone compatible at some stage!

If anyone’s interested, here’s my profile on Plenty of Fish 😉

https://www.pof.com/viewprofile.aspx?profile_id=145943520

Leon

The end of a Summer

Shadows lengthening, growth slowing, sun weakening,
Signalling the end of another summer.
The endless, merciless cycle of the seasons.
Time you cruel bastard!
Why do you play with us so?
Why do you tempt us with the beautiful promise of Spring…
Only to leave us in despair with the breaking of that promise?
Give and take, give and take – it’s just a cruel game.
If there is a God, he’s laughing at us….

Written by me about 20 years ago.

Life, The Universe and Nothing..ness

I’ve just been out for a 10,000 step, 7.14km walk. A new route which is a combination/grouping of various old routes I used to walk locally. I bit off a bit more than I could chew to be honest. I arrived home in pain and feeling like a hip transplant. The things I do for serotonin hits.

I went for the walk for these reasons – I didn’t have anything else to do, was feeling down and it was sunny…ish. A familiar story these days, except the sun bit, as work is very quiet and I spend four to five days a week totally alone, desperately looking for constructive things to do and the motivation to do them. On the way back, as I flirted with tractors, trucks and cars on a small stretch of the road with no footpath and listening to the unhelpfully morose but brilliant music of Lana Del Rey, I stepped over two bees in quick succession, crawling along the road, nowhere near any flowers and struggling to survive. I didn’t bother helping them like the cool, caring people always seem to do these days before sharing it on Facebook. Gotta save the bees. I don’t feel too bad about it though as I didn’t have a spoon, sugar or water about my person but I suspect that even if I did, I wouldn’t have bothered. Each to their own really, I can’t be taking on bee’s or the world’s problems. It’s a case of survival of the fittest, which is pretty much how my own life struggle is panning out these days. Surviving seems to be getting more difficult but at least I’m kinda fit. A little more so after my 7km anyway. More on the bees later..

So where am I at these days? I’m 43 and I’ve realised recently (it’s taken this long yes..) that life, mine at least, is a cyclical, repetitive affair. Sometimes shit happens. Sometimes it’s good, others, not so good. Then sometimes, nothing happens at all. Despite your best efforts, nothing seems to go your way and you have no luck, either good or bad. There’s just “nothingness”. Where once, the same effort bore fruit, now it just doesn’t for whatever reason. It’s tempting sometimes to surmise that everything or everyone is against you or that there’s some master of puppets controlling your every minute and ultimately, your destiny. It’s far easier to think like that than face the harsh truth that the buck stops with you and you may need to dig in occasionally and just keep yourself going and that life is just…well, random. This is essentially the driver of depression. Not quite having the resilience to let life’s low points or bad luck wash over you and be patient for better times or blowing small issues out of all proportion. Attending several workshops and completing an online course in life skills over the last two years confirmed the same to me. But even though I know the enemy now, am doing all the right things, keeping myself busy, etc.. I’m still struggling. It’s been a pretty common theme in my life and it’s getting a little tiresome at this stage to be honest.

So my thoughts on the world, society and my place in them are thus. If you have a problem, you can either just surrender to it or you can investigate the cause and find a solution that stops it at source. Upon my self investigations and various visits to counsellors over the years into why I’ve struggled with happiness consistently, there are now a few things I’ve learned about myself that hover at the forefront of my consciousness always:

  • I have Abandonment issues
  • I’m introverted and socially unskilled by nature
  • I’m overly sensitive
  • I’m a perfectionist and overly controlling
  • I’m a hopeless idealist
  • I crack up if I’m on my own too much

Problems like these can be crippling and I HAVE been crippled by them but when you identify problems, that’s the first step to solving them right? In my attempts to solve some of the problems above I’ve learned to try real hard not to overthink, not to try control things I cannot, let go of people that have let go of me, get out and about and try to be more sociable and giving. I’ve been practicing these things for a long time now. I’ve done about 7 courses locally in the last 2 years, I’ve got back into recording music, I’ve moved house to somewhere less isolating, I see my kids a lot, I’m still playing football and going out for walks, etc.. I’ve also attended many workshops on anxiety and depression as I said above. But I’m still falling down again. Why? Best case scenario for me at the minute is that I’m just having a lean, bad luck period that I just need to weather. Worst case scenario is that I’m weary and not meant for this world anymore.

Then there’s the problem of society these days. I feel that the world has become an insanely busy, cold, competitive place. People avoid each other and occupy themselves with “quick fix” activities. I read something recently written by a regular foreign visitor to Ireland over the last 20/30 years. He said he’s noticed a huge difference in the “Ireland of a thousand welcomes” of the distant past to today’s hustle and bustle, essential communications only reality. People are desensitised to the world in general and to each other. No one has the time or inclination to send that “How’s things with you” message to someone they havn’t seen in a while. No news must be good news.

Today is the 19th anniversary of my mother’s death by suicide. It’s appropriate so, in a black humour kind of way that we would both have appreciated, that I was in the Doctor’s this morning on the strong advice of several people I know and I’m unhappy to report that I’m now back on happy pills. I always think it’s like admitting defeat at life when you put your trust in medication to get you through the day but it seemed to work last time so here goes again. It’s the mark of a strong person to admit defeat though and to continually rise above their problems and the problems a sick society presents and find happiness on the minimum amount of rations. There’s no better man than I though. I’ve dug deep before on more than one occasion and managed it. Truth be told, I’m happiest when I have a big challenge but it would be nice if more people held a metaphorical sugar and water filled tablespoon out to people who are struggling, just like they do for the bees?

If you need help, there’s some available here:

Aware
Pieta House
The Samaritans

And here:

Travelling Observations

Her yawning, reflected mouth requires a fleshy encounter,
I fantasise.
Neatly shaped, shining legs extend as she climbs the stairwell.
Our mutual angle almost reveals private land,
But she slips out of sight in time.

The warm-legged girl beside me keeps catching my eyes in the glass partition.
An ironic, emotional connection give our proximity.
On another occasion I sit centre aisle at the back.
Two uniformed schoolgirls enter,
One blonde freedom, the other brunette reservation.

They sit sideways, close to me, straddling the aisle,
Blissfully unaware of my trouser contents,
As I eagerly overhear their conversation.
Old creatures shuffle slowly and clumsily past,
Reminding me of my surroundings.

An annoying young child receives my feeble smile.
An obese woman boards, to create panic,
In the minds of single-seated passengers.
My destination is reached and I slowly disembark,
Returning to madness.

Written 20 years ago.

Another day in the life

Birth sounds a lot like sex,
Another life shagged!
Infants gush forth into existence,
Carried on a stream of blood, perhaps leaving likewise.

All the shapes and sizes of people,
Rushing to an unknown destination.
In my mind I project a downward view,
And think of slave ants scurrying aimlessly.

On the bus and old drunk shuffles,
Onto a seat beside the young, pretty girl.
Her face portrays the anticipation,
Of awkward moments to follow.

I share the experience when another drunk mumbles to me,
“I buried my brother today
– cancer took him away.”
All the while clutching his brothers memorial card.

I said I was sorry to hear it,
Without actually feeling any sorrow.
I didn’t care about his troubles,
And was content to judge him.

A stranger stopped and asked me was I a Christian man,
I said “No – Atheist”, he asked why?
But I had no answer for him.
I think I have created my own destruction.

Written 20 years ago.