A regular feature of Wikizine: read Matt's 'Day in the life as a 30 something Singleton'...
When you are a kid and imagining what your life will be like in 20 or 30 years time, I imagine most people have the same things on their list; a good job, a decent home, wife and children. Ok, due to the credit crunch, I know that the first two are in short supply at the moment but still the majority of people will be married and probably have children by the time they hit their mid 30ís. Not me!! Nope, not even the hint of an aisle, parents dancing like loons at the reception or having to invite all of your facebook friends. Lurching from one relationship to another throughout the years, hurting some and being hurt by others, I find myself lone amongst my peers, no Juliet to my Romeo, no Cleopatra to my Anthony, not even a Waynetta to my Wayne.
There are plus sides of course to being single, you can do what you want, when you want, with whom you want, if you want but we, as humans, are generally not loners, we want to find that life partner. Traditional values of the Man being the protector and provider while the Woman is the homemaker, are less common as the roles become more even and shared but thatís evolution and also a sign of the economic and political times. But less of the ins and outs of mankind, what about me?
Why am I single? You could sum me up as Mr Joe Average really, nothing to stand out amongst the crowd, a generally decent guy with a GSOH, likes the usual things, sport, films, music, reading, going out and having a laugh, you see what Iím doing there, itís the template for many a lonely hearts column! My last serious relationship lasted 5 years and ended amicably 2 years ago, we realized that we both wanted different things from each other and have remained good friends. I hold no truck to the theory that exes canít be friends, of course you can, if you were friends during the relationship as you should have been then there is no reason why that canít continue. Since then I have had a couple of short lived relationships which didnít end so well but you donít give up. Iím not desperate to be with anyone for the sake of being with someone as I am quite happy with my own company.
So what am I looking for? Well ideally someone with a good sense of humour, a decent level of intelligence, a cheeky smile is always good and an adventurous streak helps too, I have found that looks slip less down the pecking order the older you get, trophy girlfriends hold no appeal, give me someone who you can chat to all night and then realise that the sun has come up and it only feels like you have been talking for an hour! So thatís what I wantÖ..now where do I find women like thatÖanswers on a postcard toÖ..
Hands up who can define dating or even the rules of dating, itís a minefield out there, is it acceptable to date more than one person? When does a date become a relationship? Does the man pay, do you go dutch? Simple answer is there is no definitive guide to dating but one thing I have learned, be honest, both with yourself and your date otherwise itís a very slippery road back to singledom again.
So after a period of not looking for anyone and getting over my last relationship, the time came to dip my foot back into uncharted dating waters, where to look then, well my social scene was the pub, my local, very few single women, even fewer under the age of 60 and Iím sorry but Iím not granny bashing, or sport, playing cricket and hockey, hmmmm again bit barren on the female front there. Options therefore limited unless I explore further afield, the town where I live seems to be inhabited by pensioners and single mums under the age of 18, having ruled both of those age groups out and not wanting to look for a needle in a haystack and inspecting the ring finger of every woman I come across, I thought Iím a modern man, there isnít the stigma surrounding internet dating any longer.
If anyone is new to internet dating there are a multitude of sites out there catering to every requirement, whim or fetish you may have whether itís for a Russian bride, casual sex, or a good old fashioned romance. There are two main types of site, subscription ones such as Match.com or free to use sites such as Plentyoffish.com. Once you have filled out your profile, you are ready to surf and find your dream partner, sounds good in theory doesnít it? As I mention before the stigmas of online dating have gone now so you are likely to find a wide range of people on there, from skilled professionals to bored stay at home mothers and everyone in between.
Settling down in front of my PC one night, profile filled, and looking to see who was around in fairly close proximity to my town, I learned a couple of things on the first night, you are far more likely to get a response to your ad if you put a photo on there (no cheating, Brad Pitt does not live in Mansfield and work as a trucker) and for every ten messages you send you will be lucky if you get one reply. The sad news for us men is that there are far more of us on these sites so the lucky ladies do get to pick and choose. Top tip number 1, try and stand out from the crowd, jazz up your profile, make it quirky and interesting so it doesnít look like thousands of others.
Over the next few columns, I shall be telling you about my experiences of dating both online and, shock horror, in the real world. What I have learned and what advice I can give. I'm not a relationship guru by any means, but you name it and I've been there and done that and, hopefully, you will want to carry on reading!