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YOUR VOICE Online Dating: The Death of Romance?

Online dating. Or maybe the ‘Diet Coke of love’ is a better way to describe it. A watered down experience which leaves a lingering bad taste. For the generations before us, people would go to music halls to eye up their potential other half. My parents took an approach which seems unusual now in that they relied upon a chance meeting via fate to set off their union. This is an era of social media, instant communication, selling yourself publicly and, as such, you can see why and how internet dating has become so popular.

It is interesting to see how internet dating does not carry the stigma that placing the lonely hearts ad in the local paper used to. That was the preserve of the perceived social misfit or hapless type and would generate sneers of derision. ‘Lonely Hearts’.  Even the name itself breeds feelings of pity. Online dating, however, is very different.  The stigma seems to have all but disappeared from the whole process, which is a good thing. A number of my friends, both male and female, use dating sites and have found partners through it and i admit to having used dating sites myself in the past. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not looking down on anyone who does online dating and I am always of the opinion that if you want something then you need to go out and get it, instead of bemoaning lack of opportunity. It’s just that, in my eyes, the online dating world has been a disappointing experience.

As a long term singleton, I have become aware that maybe I expect too much or, more likely, have simply have not met the right person yet. There was a glorious period when indeed I thought the real thing, ‘the full fat coke’ if you like, had been found and, even though it ultimately came to nothing, I look back now with healthy regard on what were beautiful feelings. Perhaps having experienced these feelings has spoiled me or has raised my expectations too far, but I don’t think wanting a connection or rapport with someone, or the chance to care and support each other, is too much to ask?

Female friends who have tried their luck online complain of the significant number of wannabe players who get in touch. Their intentions are clear and leave little to the imagination. Long term relationship types, these guys are not. As a male casting an eye over women online, you see an endless production line of samey, barely 2D approaches to putting yourself over as an attractive proposition. It’s either the passport style picture whilst looking to come across as conventionally classy or the other perspective which is ‘looking wild on a night out’. It all becomes a paint by numbers exercise. The personal ads themselves trot out the same tired cliches – everyone loves ‘travelling’ – they don’t mention what they learnt from their experience or how it changed their perspective on life, just a rattled off list of all the places they’ve visited. Then there are the ones where it’s all how career minded they are, and now they just need the partner to compliment everything. How romantic.  If you met someone in a pub, could you imagine if they started rattling off all the places they’ve visited, what their favourite food is and then set out their romantic agenda in their first sentence.  You’d run a mile, but this is exactly what online dating does.  Where’s the mystery?

I just feel that the online approach brings with it unrealistic expectation and the serious danger of people creating an identikit partner who must meet exact specifications as if they were a sofa or a washing machine. A lot of people, in the flesh, are fascinating, entertaining, charming along with many other superlatives but these qualities are easily lost in the virtual world, where judgments seem to be made on base instincts and a couple of photos.

So two fingers to the world of winking, emoticons and bland personal statements where you are expected to say, like everyone else, that you pray for world peace, love animals and the rest of it. I would much rather take my chances and be taken for everything I actually am instead of trotting out what I think people would like to hear. My own personal journey to find love and fulfillment will take a different path and will be on my terms. As Bill Hicks pointed out, you should want your rock stars to be playing from the heart. Online dating, for me, seems the antithesis of this and on a par with listening to Justin Bieber when you really want to be blasting out AC/DC.

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