created by Sarah Ponsford
From vampires to Luis Suarez, one intrepid, not-by-choice Londoner shares her horror stories from the world of digital dating.
I am a reluctant Londoner. I graduated during the aftermath of the recession; no university lecture or wisdom from the parents can prepare you for that. I simply had to work here. There were quite literally no jobs for which I was qualified in my hometown, spiritual abode and first love; Bristol.
While I’ll freely admit London *twinkling light and all* has its benefits, I didn't move here solely out of choice. Great transport (although Londoners still find a way to complain about it), significantly more – and better paying – jobs, and more pubs and shops than you can wave a shitty stick at are some of the ‘pros’; but I couldn't hide from the fact that I was quite alone. My support base of family and friends was 120 miles away down the M4, I was starting a job – finally – in writing, yet right at the bottom of the ladder under a boss that, quite frankly, terrified me and paying eye-watering amounts for what is effectively one room.
One tactic I used to combat the loneliness back in the day was dating.
Until recently, I had been single since the Stone Age; actual timeframe being about four years. That's not to say I haven't had 'kinda boyfriends' or 'friends with benefits' during that time, but certainly no-one special. There is also this sort-of guilt, others in the Big Smoke might feel as well, that you're not making the most out of the city. It's effectively built for extroverts, a term which cannot be applied to me in any shape or form.
So after a few wines a friend mentioned a name that would become the opening for many a funny dating story to come – Tinder
Tinder was good because I would feel like I was socialising from the comfort of my own onesie. I didn't have to trawl through the nasty expensive bars I despise to meet what seemed like funny attractive people. It ended up being an olive branch to combat loneliness, although many matches thought my view of Tinder too meek for their needs.
I've been on enough dates on Tinder – and one absolute disaster on POF – that it is inevitable a few bloopers slip through the net. Now I feel it is my duty to share for all those out there that think, "is it me?!”. No mate, it isn't just you, there are some proper crackpots out there. That's not to say crackpots are bad – everyone is a crackpot in their own way – it's just they were the wrong type of crackpot for you.
"Too meek for their needs" was my first hurdle. Tinder is still on the cusp of being a dating site and a no-strings site. It's safe to say, I like the banter. You're not going to be venturing in my cave if you can’t show a bit of humour and wit. Some chaps zoom straight for the postcode and get aggressive when you don't respond correctly (i.e. turn up there dressed in your finest Ann Summers). This is annoying, but laughable. The worst is when they don't understand the wit and humour, instead asking your tit size. You imagine one lone fly buzzing around their brain.
He Suarezed me!
After much messaging, I decided to go for a chat and a gig one Saturday with a Kiwi. From this and other experiences, I feel like I must wear a sandwich board entitled 'I'm probably better at drinking than you’. It can't be helped – any West Country soul has been weaned as a baby on proper scrumpy cider, we can drink you under the table (excluding Australians, no-one can do that and I have a broken jaw to prove it).
Well, I'm afraid this guy didn't get the memo and tried to keep up. Before long, he was falling over drunk and telling me he loved me. "At least he isn't an aggressive drunk,” I thought. Oh, how wrong you can be. To demonstrate his affection, he chose to, well, bite me a few times. This was about the same time the footballer Luis Suarez developed a fondness for biting his opponents, so this incident has become known as the 'Being Suarezed'. Nice guy, strong impressive teeth.
Warning, this story contains some stereotypes.
So one thing I found I had to ease up on was spelling and grammar – an extremely difficult thing to do given the profession – because there are approximately 300 languages spoken in schools alone across the city. Not everyone knows perfect English and the guy I’ve dubbed ‘Dracula’ fell into that category. Dracula was from, you've guessed it, Transylvania. Not a crime in itself, but he certainly didn’t help himself by switching the time of the date from 5pm to 10pm – afraid of a little late afternoon sunlight are we?
The second thing that rubbed me up the wrong way was when he decided not to eat my trifle. Before you say it, yes I took trifle on a date; it needed to be used up and no-one in their right mind would let a Delia Smith's Cheat Trifle go to waste. Next, he took me to his place of work, where he proceeded to talk to his friends and eye up the buxom bar staff while ignoring most of what I said to only use the excuse "my English is very bad". Suuuuuuuure bud. I decided not to ask for my reusable Tupperware back.
A momentous slip of the tongue
So I was seeing this chap, just a couple of dates, seemed nice, really casual. He had mentioned how self-conscious he was about his body – who isn't – but to be honest, you don't really hear this from guys unless you know them very well, platonic or not. I was very aware of this. So one day, he was complaining about it again and I meant to say "Don't sweat it, I love your body.” Yep, I stuttered through not wanting to make him feel even more paranoid and it came out "I love......youuuuuu....r?". A couple of weeks in. Mortified does not even cut it. A polite "Thank you, this has been nice but I'm really not after something serious" text followed. Oops.
Memory of a sieve
Off I trot for a second date with this teacher. The first date was okkkaaayyyyy I guess but I'm a firm believer in first impressions being a bit bullshit. The first date was in a dark pub, I had a few. These are just excuses. I forgot what he looked like. Walked straight past him. Yep. Then, to rub salt in the wound, called him the wrong name. Seriously, you guys have too many one syllable names. Heart wasn't in that one.
At the end of the day, Kiwi will discover his biting partner in crime and Dracula will find the perfect someone to not appreciate a good trifle with, that's cool and God speed to them.
That's the thing about London. There are so many people, that you're bound to have some odd stories when it comes to dating. Many do the whole “you're in London! World's your oyster!" chat. Well the world is full of litter, faeces and spittle too, and London is no exception. There is a romantic in there somewhere, and despite the London Tinder landmines, there are some nice ones and even better stories to tell.
Sarah Ponsford says she can definitely drink you under the table.
Challenge her to a drink-off on Twitter.