Gone fishing: a modern tale of finding love

Filling in the blanks: Summer 2013


Back in the game.

I guess the logical place to pick up the blog is where I left off: I had recently stepped away from my courier business to work more with the college and had just completed the gruelling West Highland Way ultra run. The increased financial stability and promise of more free time over the summer allowed me to consider addressing my dire love-life. A combination of life-inflicted emotional trauma and self-inflicted angst didn’t put me in the best of places for any relationship in my early 20s. Thereafter, time and money were short and I struggled to meet single women who I connected with. The best I managed was a few months before we had to part ways.

I wasn’t desperately unhappy with the situation. I continued to live life to the max, but we all know that as cool and exciting as Pepsi Max was, it was missing something…just wasn’t quite the same. So, aware of my more favourable resources and improved focus, I decided it was time to dip my toe in the water again. I believe things happen when you are ready for them, but it helps to be looking.

The traditional way people hook up in Northern Ireland involves large doses of dutch courage, meeting at church, or nobody knows…they’ve just always been together. That all ruled me out. In addition, asking a nice stranger for their number will generally cause you to luck out and feel like you’ve broken some social clause: this is not the USA when it comes to casual first dates. My opportunities to be proactive appeared few, save for the common ground that unites us all… the internet.

Finding love in a hopeless place.

I knew internet dating existed, but for a long time thought it was for divorced people or other such niche groups. However, some friends spoke of surprising success (for themselves and others they knew) in finding longterm partners via the web. Plenty of Fish was the site du jour, so I jumped in to try my luck. After detailing myself, my wants, and desires, crafting interesting text and selecting photos that best described ‘me’, I had a live profile. Computers then used science and past data trends to show a selection of potential matches.

I decided there was a chance I had become unrealistically particular, wary, or judgemental so opted to cast a wide net and contact every match who I might possibly get on with and allow actual conversation to reveal the truth. No response. I refined my profile, rotated my main picture, and tried a wide variety of message styles from humourous to insightful to thoughtful questioning. Still nothing.

I wasn’t expecting miracles, but after a few months the summer was drawing to a close and I hadn’t even had a coffee with someone. As a medium, the internet excels at connecting us to a wider world, but my expectations of its powers were solely based on lightning access to information and two-day product delivery. It can ask us all those big questions up front and put us in a bigger pond to better our chances, but at the end of the day we humans are still the limiting factor.

She got her hooks in you.

Chatting to a few friends revealed some insight and hope. As frustrating as it is for guys getting no replies, women on dating sites are inundated with messages every day… and a lot of them are stupid, crude or creepy. Their inbox is a nightmarish mine-field that is often ignored. From the known experience, most relationships that went anywhere stemmed from female first contact. As a new playing field with opportunities for new rules, it seemed plausible. Frankly, it also sounded like a lot less work so I was more than willing to give it a shot.

I never even saw Deirdre in my matches before she contacted me (she had a private profile). After a few messages, I suggested we meet in a nice coffee shop for a real chat… no St*rbucks with me, even if it was a low pressure first date. Suffice to say we’ve now been together for two years and are both still living life to the max. You sometimes really don’t know who is out there!

The internet is ever evolving and the current dating buzz is the Tinder phone app, where users swipe left or right to show interest in each other based mainly on profile pictures. It competes with the frustration of regular sites by offering simplified setup, interaction and expectation. The relationship psychologists will be having a field day comparing the tactics and results of these various platforms, but while the results may be some time coming, the stigma has certainly long gone and internet dating is fast becoming as regular as drunken dancing and “my mate likes your mate”.

It’s the choice of a new generation.


A couple's feet dangling over a bridge, viewing towards the water.

Leave a Reply