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Charlotte’s Ultimate Guide to Online Dating

Dating Guide

Now I have consciously coupled myself, I feel I should open up about all the different methods of dating that I tried. I did the whole online dating thing because meeting new people takes a lot of time and effort, and since I move about so much, there is little chance of me being set up with friends of friends and so on.

Before we start, I want to tell you the best advice I can give you – don’t actively look for a relationship. It may look like I did a whole lot of looking and that I wanted a relationship really badly, but actually I didn’t. Even when it came to dating bfnd, I had a moment of “holy crap this is a relationship you’re getting into. This was not the plan ABORT ABORT!!”

When you super want a relationship, you stink of desperation. It’s something I should have known when I was in Japan and wanted nothing more than someone to love. Just chill out, enjoy yourself, have fun, HAVE YOUR OWN HOBBIES, and things will work out.

For the most part, I kept up the dating profiles for shits and giggles, and to have something to write about on the blog.

So, here is my guide to online dating in 2015:

I went through a number of dating websites and methods. The whole process is slow, mainly because there are so many utter penis-faces out there – probably in both genders. After a while I got better at picking out guys who I thought would be suitable to me.

I think it’s a good idea to make a checklist, or at least have a good idea about what you want in a partner when setting out. For example, my checklist was:

  • Progressive thinker (no sexist guys, or people who use “gay” as a negative adjective, for example)
  • Someone who enjoys his job, or at least has a passion
  • Someone who has his own life and hobbies and won’t rely on me completely for social interaction
  • An ex-expat/non-Brit/someone who has done a lot of traveling

However, it is always worth keeping an open mind. I’ll tell you more about that later, how I had to have an open mind to start my relationship.

So, what websites and methods did I use?

OK Cupid

I used OK Cupid the longest; while I was in Frankfurt still and then in the UK too. I stopped because, due to it being free, the number of penis-faces was very high. I have a wonderful collection of screenshots from the kinds of things guys said to me there.

Verdict: A good place to start, the questions that you answer are great for weeding out weirdos, but since everyone can message you, you can expect a high level of hassle there. Great design and very easy to use.

Plenty of Fish

After I quit OK Cupid I started on POF. The interface isn’t as pretty or as well organised as OK Cupid’s but I felt the level of people on there was a little higher. I didn’t get nearly as many penis-faces contact me, though I feel there were slightly fewer people on there in my area. It’s free, and anyone can contact you.

Verdict: Probably the best of the free sites. It takes a while to get used to how the site works, but is a good site at the end of the day and worth keeping a profile up just to see what’s out there.

Match.com

Match.com is not free, and I selected to try it for one month just to see what it’s like. I found it ridiculously stressful to use, as the tab text is constantly flashing YOU HAVE 10 MESSAGES!! 100 PEOPLE HAVE VIEWED YOUR PROFILE!! LOADS OF PEOPLE HAVE WINKED AT YOU!!

I found that the quality of people on the site was OK Cupid-level. I didn’t find anyone on there even remotely interesting. It just seemed that this was the place people go to when they are getting pretty desperate and want to start paying to find dates, but don’t want to pay too much.

At the end of the month, Match.com renewed my subscription without warning. I emailed them and said that if I wanted to go for a few months, I would not have selected the one month package. They explained that I had been told that the subscriptions are rolling and so they would not refund me. Being angry that I had to pay another £30 to use their stressful site, I went on a date with the only guy who looked mildly interesting on there, and it was a pretty crap date.

Verdict: No. Just don’t. You’re worth more than this.

Speed dating

I did speed dating twice and it was actually quite fun. I think it’s important that you go to an event near to where you live, though. This may sound a little obvious, but for example, if you’re living just outside of London and go to an event, you might find that everyone else also live just outside of London, just the wrong side. I am not going all the way to Essex for a guy. Nope.

I am not a fan of long first dates and had a rule that the first few should be no longer than 40 mins, so I really liked having just a few minutes with each guy. That way, if there is someone in front of you who you really don’t like, it’s not long before they’re out of your way. Anyone you do like, you can get their number afterwards at the bar and contact them further.

Verdict: One of the best options. Have a google for good events in your area.

Tinder

Tinder was a difficult one at first. You may think that it is just for hookups but I actually found it, after a while, easy to pick out guys wanting something more. I even had to politely apologise to a few guys I’d been messaging for a while when I unsingled myself.

For those not in the know, Tinder is an app where you swipe right or left to decide if you are interesting in someone. If you both swipe yes to each other, you can contact them. I’d say 80% of the time I got matches and nothing was ever said between us, but like I said, I also had quite a few good matches on there.

Verdict: Once you get good at being judgemental, it’s nice to be able to weed out people you don’t want to talk to. I think Tinder is another one of my favourite date-finding methods.

Guardian Soulmates

Guardian Soulmates is one of these “make a profile for free but you’ll need to pay to actually do anything” websites. I recommend giving it a go – I never paid because my area had nothing but tumbleweed.

Protip: If you make a profile and want to pay, leave it a few weeks at least; they’ll email you with money-off codes and even free trials.

Twitter/Random setups

My wonderful mate Kate tried to get the Twitterverse to find me a date, and I actually went on a Valentine’s Day date with someone else I’d been matched with. It’s fun but ultimately not really the best method.

I like setting people up very much, so if you have a cupid friend then they’re pretty good to go to. I’ve got a number of successful couples under my belt – and even a married couple now!

Verdict: Hit and miss.

Meetup.com/Falling for friends

Firstly: MEETUP IS NOT A DATING WEBSITE.

I have to say that because I do get tired when I get random guys message me on there. Meetup.com is my favourite website; join local groups, go to events and make friends. I’m a member of a number of groups, and do all kinds of things from wine tasting events, badmington and volunteering with the groups there. Without this website, I would not have the social life I have right now.

I met bfnd through meetup.com. We both were on the same pub quiz team, and lived in the same direction so walked home together. When I met him I thought he was pretty hot, and really interesting and the more I spoke with him the more I fell. But he’s a year younger than me, and I have a strict “no younger guys” rule. Mainly because I find that younger guys cause drama, are scared of things like commitment and are just not all that good. We stayed as friends and went to loads of different meetups together, but there was something that changed a few weeks ago and I needed to get over my “no younger guys” rule in order to let an amazing guy into my life.

Verdict: Meetup.com is my favourite website; but don’t go in it stinking of desperation. Make friends, get to know people and fall slowly.

Original Speed Dating

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You may remember that I went Speed Dating a while back for your pleasure. Well, I was invited by the dating events company Original Dating to attend one of their events in London, in exchange for an honest review, so I got to have another shot at this whole thing.

Firstly, there are SO MANY events to choose from with Original Dating. Sadly, they are only based in London right now, but there are enough events around town to keep you very busy. I chose the event taking place at Dion, because it’s very near to where I’m working right now. Dion was a great choice because it was a hip, buzzing bar full of 25-35ish year-olds – just the right scene for this kind of event. We were taken downstairs away from the regular guests for the actual speed dating, though.

The difference with Original Dating events is that they use this app called Mixeo. I found it a lot better than the previous event’s system because 1) you can easily upload a photo and a bio and stuff and be done with it and 2) RANDOM GUYS COULDN’T CONTACT ME. It’s in caps because that’s just how important that is to me. The previous event ran from a website where you could easily find other people registered and then contact them. This was highly annoying.

The Original Dating event itself was hosted by a lovely guy named Charlie, who was very good at running round the 40 or so people, making sure everyone is in the right place. As normal, girls would sit down and guys would move around to sit with the next girl, with each “date” being 4 minutes.

I didn’t get to speak with many of the other girls, but the crowd was pretty diverse. I was expecting loads of City type people there, but the guys were mainly IT professionals, with a few firemen and journalists and lawyers thrown into the mix. One negative thing I have to say about the event is that the age range was pretty large – 23 to 35. I’m 28, so felt that about half of the guys were a little too young for me.

During the event you use the app again – get each other’s numbers and then check out the bio while having a chat. Once the 4 minutes are up, you can press whether they were a “yes”, “no” or “friend” right then and there. This is what makes it truly speedy – no waiting around for the others to log on and enter their matches. The results are released the next day so you can get chatting right away in the app’s message service.

How did I do? Well, I had a couple of matches. I wasn’t feeling very well so had to leave a little after the event ended, but I think if I’d have put in time afterwards, I might have been able to spark a few more matches. London dating is also difficult because most people are commuting in, so with me coming in from Maidenhead, if I meet a guy coming in from, say, Essex, it’s going to be really tricky to have a relationship. With this in mind, I told the Original Dating guys that they really should come to the Reading area because they’d have so many people sign up there.

I highly recommend Original Dating, with two big thumbs up. Dating is scary and meeting people is a pain in the arse but these guys make it fun and simple and most importantly, speedy.

Disclaimer: Original Dating invited me to the event for free in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

So I Went Speed Dating

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There are certain things I do in my life purely because I think it would make a great post. I think if I didn’t blog, I would spend a hell of a lot more time sat at home doing things that normal people do, like spend time reading and maybe even watch that thing called TV that people talk a lot about. One of the things I have done recently for the amusement of you, dear readers, is go to speed dating.

I’m pretty much over online dating. My OK Cupid subscription (I pay for the benefits) renewed itself the other week so I hang in there to get good value for money, but on the whole I’m tired of getting 10 “hey babe”/”nice eyes”/”why didn’t you reply to the lame message I sent you 3 days ago???!!!???” messages a day.

I’ve written about it a bit before but I really feel that online dating is killing human interraction. It’s like I have a whole cataglogue of men right there – many of whom end up messaging me (no idea why, I have just an average selfie as a photo), and so I have the power to disregard someone if they use “their/there/they’re” incorrectly, for example. I have no idea whether my last 3 boyfriends could use proper grammar but seeing as two of them write for a living I’m guessing at least they do.

So I signed up for an event hosted by Speeddater. The event ticket was £14 and was held at a bar called Zero Degrees, which is famous for its craft beer and pizza. For my £14 I got no free drinks and no nibbles; just entry to this event.

I went alone. I tried to get some girlfriends to go with me but either they were very good at making excuses or they just genuinely couldn’t go. When I arrived, the host put me at a table with another single-single girl, a Chinese girl with a fake English name. She was a hoot, and we hit it off right away. She told me she was only there as a favour for a friend – all her friends were married with kids so she wanted to find someone for herself, so she could feel a part of their life. A few more girls turned up and we were chatting away about the online dating sites we used and the kinds of terrible messages we got. One girl told me she’d recently had a message that just asked her if she was shaved or not. I think that probably beats any of my recent ones. After a while a guy came and sat with us. He was wearing one of those ironically ugly jumpers – tres cool. We chatted for a bit, and the Chinese girl tried to set us up even before we’d started the event.

At long last we were asked to go upstairs, so with my elderflower pale ale (very good – highly recommend!) in hand, I joined the others. Girls were placed at tables dotted around the room and the guys were the sushi to be rotated around between us. The Chinese girl, a lethal combination of being dressed up to the nines in a tight red dress and taking absolutely no bullshit from guys, was the girl before me. This served me well because the guys came from her table to mine in a state of shock, having had her pick at them for the past 3 minutes.

Yes, we only had 3 minutes per guy, and when the bell rang they shot off to the next girl. During that change time I tried to jot down some notes about the guy and whether he was a “yes”, a “no” or a “friend”.

As someone who is often downright rude to guys who message me on OK Cupid (for exmaple, a recent favourite of mine is a reply to the message “twit twoo”; “Did you know that men who wolf whistle have, on average, much smaller penises than those who do not?”) I was so scared that I would meet a guy to whom I’d insulted in some way and would have no way to escape. Luckily this didn’t happen.

I found something strange. None of the guys were attractive when they sat down before me. If I’d have seen their photos on Tinder, I would have left swiped them to reject them. But when I got talking to them a lot of them turned into yeses. There was one guy who was a lot older, but he works as an aviation journalist, and that was pretty cool. Then there was a lawyer who was really sweet and funny but obviously shy.

After the event, we ladies all went to the bathroom together. We all agreed that the lawyer was a catch, except for my new Chinese friend who said that he had “weird teeth”. I met just as many new potential girlfriends as I did love interests, and we all swapped Facebook details.

What happens now, the day after the event, is that I go onto their website and tick the guys who were yeses and friends. In the end I only had one “no” to give – to a personal trainer/actor who was full to the brim with bullshit. And what’s more, I’m actually having butterflies waiting to see who ticked yes for me. The guy who I was chatting to before the event started ended up driving me home to save me a train journey, and he was really nice. I wish I’d have taken his number when he dropped me off, but I guess that defeats the whole object of the game, doesn’t it.

After this event, I’m thinking of quitting online dating. I’m speaking with one really nice guy on OK Cupid right now but I think in general, me getting bombarded with unwanted messages and wanting to respond negatively to them is skewing my dating experience. What I need is to go to more events where I meet people in person, to listen to what they have to say – beause firstly I cannot judge them on their poor grammar verbally (well, unless it’s really bad) and also I reckon it would be a lot harder for a guy to verbally give me the shit lines I get in writing every day.

As a semi review of the speeddater event, the host, Colin, was pretty rude and I wasn’t a fan of his. In the break when I was chatting with some girls, he told me to go and speak with guys because apparently that’s why I was there. I was there for a good blog post story and to meet new people. If I get a date out of this then that’s a bonus. He also left without saying goodbye. Regardless of the host’s attitude, it was a good event, possibly worth the £14. If you go to an event with them and meet no one at all that you like, then you get the second event for free.


It’s now a week after the event and the guy who drove me home apparently hasn’t submitted his ticks yet, so I haven’t heard back from him. I have no idea what went wrong there – why someone would pay to attend an event and then not even play the game. Anyway. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

How to Fail at Dating Profile Photos

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 Yes those are my pajamas. No I have no makeup on. Ideal dating profile photo?

After recently reading about how much of an arse the creators of the dating app Tinder are to their female co-founder, I deleted the app in protest. But after coming back to the UK and seeing how Tinder is so widely used (more so than my good friend OK Cupid), I brought it back into my smart phone life. 🙁

After using it for a few weeks I have come up with a few things that really are NOT sexy or appealing or nice to look at when it comes to guys’ profile photos. These are just my opinions, other ladies may thing that these are exactly the kinds of things they want to see, but to me… I just wish they’d go away.

In bed/lying down.

So many guys have photos of them in bed. I’m not sure what kind of message they’re wanting to send. “Hey babe, I’m in bed waiting for you!” Nah, I’d rather, you know, talk with you for a bit to be honest. “Hey sweetie, this is what I’ll look like when you’re in bed with me!” Again, no thank you. No.

Naked in some way.

Some women may want to see half naked men. I do not.

I don’t want to see ripped torsos of headless guys. I don’t want to see bulging boxer-shorts. I do not want to see hairy muffin-tops posing in some come-hither fashion.

Weird background.

So you take a photo of yourself and it looks awesome. Great! But what’s behind you in the photo? I think we’ve all seen the photos of people taking photos in bathrooms that aren’t quite fit for human eyes. But I’ve recently had such gems as a guy using a selfie taken in Mothercare – a baby goods shop, and also one other taken in front of Poundland – the British version of the dollar store.

Other women (or other people).

“Oh wow, what a cool looking guy! But…who is that girl next to him? Is that his girlfriend? Or his ex? Maybe his sister? Hmm…she’s really pretty and skinny and probably super awesome. I’m not that super awesome maybe he won’t be interested in me. Nah, I’ll leave it.”

Does that sound lame? Well that’s what goes through my head a lot when I see a guy with a girl in his photo with him. Maybe he put that photo up to show that he has girl friends. But…I guess I’m not the only person who thinks like this?

If there is more than one guy there, then it’s just confusing. Which one is he?

Do you agree with my dating photo bugbears? Do you have any more to add? I’d love to know!

 

 

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