Posts tagged ‘Online Communities’

Just A Bite?

Scenario 1:

I invite a friend round for dinner. The doorbell rings, I answer, we hug and I invite them in. We enjoy our meal while catching up, conversing, engaging, laughing, etc. I’ve made dessert too. It’s all very enjoyable. We even arrange to do it again.

Scenario 2: The doorbell rings, I’m not expecting anyone but I go to answer it. Standing there is someone I don’t know very well but have gotten along with in the past. Before I know it, they’ve pushed past me, they’re in the kitchen and riffling through my cupboards. I’m in stunned silence. This isn’t what I expected when I answered the door. I return to the kitchen and I’m yelled at to sit down. I’m suddenly scared so I do as I’m told. My fight or flight instinct has chosen to freeze and I can’t override it. They make a sandwich, all the while yelling at me. I’m frozen to the spot, I daren’t move for fear I’ll feel their rage via their fists. They scoff the sandwich down, leave the place in a mess and storm out of the house.

Still with me? Now, let’s say I want to make a complaint to the Gardaí about this? Let’s say I take it to trial? Why does my ability or willingness to engage in scenario 1 sully my testimony while his previous convictions for scenario 2 are inadmissible?

Because I opened the door, is it my fault? I should have looked through the peep hole. I should have been a better judge of character. I should have yelled back. I should have used my words and my fists to get them out of my house. Is it my fault because I had fresh bread in the house?

So it’s all my fault and now I’m afraid to open the door to anyone. I live in fear. I jump every time I hear a car slow down outside.

If this seems ridiculous to you, you’re right. It is ridiculous. Yet that’s what happens to rape victims daily, both by society and by our legal system. We fail them.

The purpose of Tinder is to meet and engage with new people. How can we do this is we don’t take people at face value? How has anyone ever found a new person to add to their world without an element of trust? This is not the fault of Tinder but equally, it is not the fault of the victim.

Enough is enough. Let’s blame the rapist. Are you with me?

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Decency

There are some people in our everyday lives that seem to unconsciously use us and manipulate us to satisfy their own selfish whims. They will of course tell themselves it’s justified. They don’t see the self-centredness in their behaviour,  to do so would be to admit they are not good at the core and let’s be honest, nobody really wants to face up to that.

My example is of my most recent ex-boyfriend. Bet you were all wondering where my dating blogs had gone. The summarised version is that he did all the chasing, he pursued me tirelessly but as it turns out most of what he told me was a fairy tale. They were small plausible lies that made him feel good about himself and were devised to reel me in to his duplicitous and twisted world. It all came to a head when he stood me up one day. What astonished me was the fact that he actually tried to blame me for the events of the day. I’d never encountered such arrogance and unwillingness to see outside of one’s own head in all my years. Some might call me gullible for not seeing this trait sooner but I’ve always seen the best in people. I will always take someone at face value until they prove otherwise. Well, surprise surprise, he proved otherwise. I also believe that how you treat people reveals everything about your character that anyone needs to know. The lies began to unravel once I was in a position to examine the relationship more objectively. Each lie when taken alone seemed innocuous enough, such as saying he was on strong sleeping pills when he wasn’t. Why lie about something like that? What’s the point? When did these stories begin? I’ve no idea, but it just takes one lie to call everything he ever said into question.

We’d only been going out a few months, that’s no big deal. What really got me riled was that we’d started out as friends, we’d been close friends for 12 months before the relationship began. I now doubt that our friendship was built on anything other than an elaborate tale of fiction and manipulation designed to massage his fragile ego. Why did he behave so appallingly, both in general and on that particular day? I’ve no idea and I really don’t care what his motives were. All I know is they are not characteristics befitting someone deserving of my time and efforts.

What I would love to know though, is how long he thought his stories would last? Was it calculated or was he making it up as he went along, falling deeper into the morass and trying to bring me with him? Did he even go so far as to believe his own stories?  Did he have an endgame? What was the point of all this? Was it  driven by malice or simply a pathetic attempt to seek affection?

So what is it that drives people like this to lie compulsively to others? Do they consider those around them unworthy of basic honesty and decency? Do they even think about the other people they affect? I appreciate each of us are essentially selfish at our core, that’s simple self preservation, but to cause harm to another for no apparent reason beyond personal gratification or ego-massaging is something I cannot quite get my head around. Surely such a blatant lack of empathy coupled with a fragile ego is classic narcissism, how did I not see this sooner?

Most importantly I refuse to let this change me as a person; elaborate revenge fantasies aside! I will continue to be warm, honest and open to everyone I meet. I will continue to believe that truth is singular and the most valuable gift you can bestow upon anyone. I will continue to maintain a positive outlook in all my dealings with people and in potential relationships. To do anything else would be to let him under my skin and he’s proven that he’s not worth that. But a word to the wise, don’t ever dare lie to me or break my trust: what is it they say about a woman scorned?

And so I’ve returned to Tinder, where for the moment at least, I’m new and interesting. I might even be referred to as fresh meat. And the first date dress is out in force again.

Until Tomorrow

She’s been doing this for over three weeks now. She gets up, puts on her mask and goes to work. Her colleagues can’t tell the difference, or at least she believes this to be the case. She’s more detached than usual, less likely to partake in daily banter but on the surface little seems different. She’s probably just busy or distracted, they think. Her attention span isn’t what it used to be but she thinks she’s hiding this pretty well too. She makes a note of everything because she’ll forget it if she doesn’t. Her ability to make tough decisions has all but disappeared so she tries to avoid them at all costs and eagerly takes guidance from colleagues.

Once home, the mask comes off. Aah, that’s better. It’s been smothering her, it’s tough work keeping it on all day. In fact it’s utterly exhausting. At least she’s at home now, she shuts the door and is safe from the stress of real life for today.

She should make dinner but feels no incentive. The only value in eating is to quieten the grumbling sound in her abdomen, so she goes straight to bed, eats 2 bars of chocolate and that does the trick for now. Not even chocolate tastes good anymore so why make the effort of real meals. She’ll be hungry again in an hour and will make another poor dietary choice. She’ll eat better tomorrow, when the real world hasn’t felt like such a struggle, just not today. Maybe tomorrow.

She’s deleted her dating profile for now, it’s such hard work interacting with the people she knows and likes that there’s no way she’s in a position to converse and get to know new people. It’s only online but it still requires wearing the mask. It is easier than real world interaction, she knows that but she just can’t be bothered for now. Maybe tomorrow.

What if she went for a walk? Get some air in her lungs, she’s been told repeatedly that exercise is good when she feels like this but she can’t seem to face up to it. The prospect of 30-45 minutes alone with her thoughts while out in the world, is terrifying. She’s tried all day to not let those thoughts in, she’s certainly not going to let them waltz into her consciousness now. The far preferable option is to stay indoors with a box set, away from her thoughts. Her attention span is dead so she can’t risk a movie but she thinks she can manage a TV episode or two. Surely she’s not that much a victim to her own cognition.

Why doesn’t she just go to the doctor or call that person she used to go to when she last felt like this? Well, she can’t even write this in the first person yet so she’s clearly not ready to be proactive in dealing with these feelings. Besides, she just might feel a little stronger tomorrow.

Maybe talk to a friend then, wouldn’t that be easier? Her friends are busy with their own lives so she won’t inconvenience them with something intangible that they can’t fix anyway. Besides, she’d only be whinging. They’ve real lives with real problems. She’s just feeling sorry for herself, it’s not like there’s anything really wrong with her. And maybe it’ll pass, it could all be gone tomorrow and it’ll turn out she was whinging for nothing.

She does know that only she can fix this but she just doesn’t have the energy today. Besides, she’s got to put that mask on again tomorrow and without a good nights sleep that’s going to be tougher than today. So she clings to the hope that she’ll get a good night’s sleep, that tomorrow will be magically better somehow and she won’t have to face up to dealing with this.

How Do You Spell Single?

Online dating is a bit like a left handed wank. It feels weird and unnatural but if you put the effort in, you might just get the result you seek.
With this in mind, perhaps a cursory check of your profile is a good idea, it’s the only thing your prospective dates will have to judge you on. Remember folks, spell check is your friend.

I’m not a complete autocrat, there are some errors I will forgive. I’m also perfectly ok with a lot of text abbreviations. I’m sure I’d never get laid at all if I didn’t forgive the occasional typo of the your/you’re, there/their/they’re and the then/than variety.

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On one site in particular, one of the questions you need to complete is your occupation. Here’s a selection of occupations of my prospective matches in the greater Galway area:

Pumber
Capinter
Tower cane
Diector
Factoty
Free lancer

I’ve found men on this site in the past few weeks describe themselves as follows:

I am cearing (I can only assume he means caring).
I am toaled am funny (Well I laughed).
People say I am a GD man (No idea what he’s trying to say here).
Will fill dis out later (Can’t imagine how he’ll improve upon this insight into his character).
Could of (Just how difficult is “Could have”)?
Searious (Seariously?)
Simular (Like is far easier to spell correctly).
Looking to meet the wome of my dreams (What’s a wome?).

The pickings are slim, even when I’ve conceded to accept the more forgivable typos. The world of online dating is a very bleak place indeed when spelling skills become a basic requirement in a suitor.

I am also learning quite a lot of peculiar text speak lately. Did you know that bbe means babe? I mean who’d see a need to type an extra letter to make the subject matter clearer? Never mind the fact that we’ve never met and I’m wincing at being called babe, in any format.

I’ll bet you couldn’t guess what wbu stands for? No? Well that’s because the letters in this particular acronym don’t even represent the words within it. It stands for ‘what About you’.

Are single women just as bad? Can anyone spell correctly anymore or am I destined to drop my standards even further?

I despair.

And parents, can you please ensure your offspring never fail to get the ride in the future because of a poor attention to spelling.

Cold World

We’re rarely intentionally cruel, but we can be guilty of some very mean-spirited behaviour towards our fellow singleton. Is stringing someone along better or worse than ghosting them? Does it count as letting them down gently? I’ll let you decide.

I recently met a guy that got me thinking about this. I felt he was stringing me along for one of the reasons below (Spoiler alert: I suspect it was ‘Options’). I ghosted his last sporadic and insincere message. But which of us is worse?

I wouldn’t ever string anyone along to be intentionally mean, I’m sure very few would. But why can callousness come so easily to us? When did we become so cold?

For Attention

Dating is like waiting for a bus. It’s utterly selfish but it’s also nice to have someone interested in us to massage our ego and make us feel desirable when the pickings are slim. Even I’m guilty of this one, and I’m damn near perfect.

Cowards

I could argue the point that we’re too nice and hate the prospect of hurting anyone but that’s not it. We’re doing it because we’re selfish and don’t want to play the villan. The Nerd did this one to me and it felt awful when the penny dropped. I don’t do well with subtleties so to be quite honest, it’s a wonder that particular penny dropped at all.

Options

We haven’t yet decided if we want them in our lives so we hang on and drip feed the interaction while searching for someone better. Can they not see I’m totally fricking awesome? Seriously what’s there to think about?

Players

This needs no explanation. It’s intentional and it’s keeping you strung along with a minimum of effort for the possibility of maybe getting laid on a Friday night.

In A Relationship

They’re assholes.

So what should we do when we think we’re being strung along? The correct answer is nothing at all. If a guy wants to talk to you or see you, there will be no excuses, there will be no games. He will make it happen. It really is that simple.

Hope

After a few early messages, I usually get a sense of a person. Yes I could be very wrong about them and it can all turn pear-shaped quite fast but that early impression counts for a lot.

We get chatting; sharing stories and interests, learning all about each other and that’s when it kicks in. Hope. Regardless of how many times I’ve had this feeling before or how many times it’s been misplaced, it inevitably returns and with it comes a bucket load of confusion.

Today I’m slap bang in the middle of the hope phase. I’m loving and hating it in equal measure. Yes, it’s exciting getting to know him and I’m having lots of laughs but nestled in the back of my mind is that this is not real, and it can’t be real until we meet. Essentially I’m refusing to trust my own judgement of our conversations. What if he’s nothing like I’ve imagined? What if I’m an awful judge of character? What if he’s simply really good at telling me what I want to hear?

A consequence to that is that this can put a lot of unnecessary pressure on a first meeting. Wasn’t it so much easier when we met in real life first? Texting with people we already know is fine but texting strangers is fraught with doubts. Maybe it’s because I see so many obvious catfish online that I’m wary of anyone who seems too good to be true. Of course it could be fine and it’s probable that I’m just overthinking it; nothing new there.

I used to be quite blasé about first dates, and mostly I still am. Once in a while though you find one that you’re really hopeful about. Who knew that hope and excitement was so stress inducing? I’m sure we’ll meet in the next few days, wish me luck!

Dating at Speed

I recently went speed dating for the first time. With no idea what to expect, I wasn’t at all nervous. It was to be a fun night out with a friend, an unusual event to talk about over the water-cooler tomorrow.  Upon entering the venue it quickly dawned on me that I was meant to arrive with a sales pitch to a very unnatural setting. I’d forgotten I was going to need to be at my best, my easy smile wouldn’t win it for me today. What would I say? How would this go? Just how awkward is an awkward silence with an awful match?

If you’ve never been speed dating, it’s like tinder but with paper and pencil. You make a list, put a tick beside any you’d like to see more of, submit to the organisers and if mutual ticks are had then you can swap contact details.

We got down to it. The men were seated and the women were to move to a new table every 3 minutes. We had to do the moving about? It felt we were being judged. I’d naively thought that I’d be doing the judging. I really hadn’t thought this through at all. Never mind the fact I’d worn heels and was guzzling wine like it was the end of days. I was sure to fall over shortly.

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The Professional Conversationalist: He asked lots of questions, I suspect he’d them written up his sleeve and his biggest fear was any moment of silence. It felt very unnatural, forced even, there was no flow to the conversation. This wasn’t a great start.

The Farmer: Bless his cotton socks, he was a stereotypical farmer from 1982. He was sweet and shy, and he wanted a nice sweet girl to take home to Mammy.

Daredevil: I have no memory of this date. I strongly suspect I wasn’t blown away by any of it.

Clare: Again, nothing memorable.

Flake: Ah! I’d met the Flake on a date before. He’s great fun to chat to so I knew this would be easy. The reason we’d never had a second date was because he was a complete flake. Great fun but not reliable or attentive and no idea where he wanted to be next week, never mind 5 years.

The Prof: Not normally my type. I’d have swiped left if I saw him on Tinder but I was pleasantly surprised. He was fun and insanely intelligent. I ticked the box to match with him.

Quiet: Rob was a very sweet kid. He was terribly shy and quiet. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more difficult conversation. When he did speak, I could hardly hear him. He seemed very uncomfortable and this was certainly the wrong setting for him.

The Gaelgoir: A nice guy, no spark, nothing in common, it was a hollow pleasant conversation.

The Accountant: He was dull, in a stereotypical accountant kinda way. Not a bad looking lad but I fought falling asleep for the longest 3 minutes of my life.

Good On Paper: I’d also met this guy before. In fact, I’ve written about him in Backwards. He was good on paper, tall, clever, interesting, ambitious, nerdy. There was just no spark at all. He’s the kinda guy I really want to see happy, just with someone else.

The Pilot: Another dull conversation. He’d a nice smile but damn, that was a difficult 3 minutes.

The Kid: Lovely guy, fun chat but I wondered what was the point of making any effort as he was all of 23 years old.

Biscuits: He was sitting beside the biscuit table, and I do love biscuits within easy reach! Fun guy, good chat. I honestly can’t remember why I didn’t tick his box.

Teacher: A hilarious Cork teacher. He wasn’t blessed in the height department so being seated was to his advantage when I ticked his box before seeing him stand.

I was quickly reminded that what Irish men lack in looks and online pitch they more than make up for with charm, wit and an easy demeanour. They’re not suave or very good at selling themselves but they’re mostly great fun. An Irish guy’s best qualities cannot be accurately portrayed in an online dating profile and a few pics. Is it any wonder online dating isn’t working for me or them?

More than anything though, what I enjoyed was the giggles had with the wonderful, smart and fun single women that were also in attendance. Take a bunch of strong single women, add wine, an awkward scenario and the result is giggles, warmth and fast friends. It was the best fun I’ve had since I last saw Dylan Moran live. I highly recommend it as an evenings entertainment.