How I Ended Up Giving Online Dating A Go – Revisited

Like a lot of people it was boredom, coloured by the occasional flash of loneliness, plus a deeper urge to re-join the push and pull of humanity that led me to online dating.

After the end of a two-decade-long marriage that included raising two primary-school-aged children, a secret part of me craved excitement: ideas, fun, laughter, the thrill of new friendship… and sex. The heady early years of mothering my babies had waned and loving them intensely and passionately didn’t fill me up quite as much.

I didn’t feel anything for months, least of all an interest in sex or men. I wasn’t grieving the loss of the marriage, because in my head I’d wanted out for a long time. It was actually a relief, and I loved being alone on those rare moments when I was kid-free.

But life and work and kids were complicated, and I needed to reground myself. Thinking back, I see now that I was emotionally numb – until I discovered a dormant interest in the opposite sex. It was something of a shock to find a throbbing heart in my chest and all the symptoms of a love-struck teen. I probably embarrassed myself by my all-out pursuit of this geeky tech manchild, ohso my type back then!

It was a total accident that I opened the door to online dating. I blame my friend and colleague – I guess if it wasn’t for her, I’d never have met my beloved.

Dating sites

Dating apps were intoxicating at first!

I committed myself to giving online dating a go for a year, to throw caution to the winds and explore what I’d been missing since the age of 21 when I’d got hitched. It ended up being a lot longer than a year, what with at least one six-month enforced celibacy block and some on-again-off-again app cancelling and re-subscribing. I think everyone does this – dating just gets too much at times.

I’ve always been idealistic and romantic – diving into the lows and floating blissfully with the highs – yet after so long in the one relationship, at first my wings felt clipped. My confidence was at rock bottom. Most people in long-term relationships feel this way, I’ve learned. Often, the complacency or invisibility sets in and you forget what sexual attraction is like. I’d thought I’d forgotten how to flirt and a part of me wondered if I’d ever get it back. (I needn’t have worried – it’s like riding a bike!)

Online dating messes with your head

I think that, the world over, we all agree about this. Its very nature encourages intimacy between strangers. It cloys confessions and drags declarations from us before we even know what we’ve revealed. Everything about the shopping-aisle of faces, swiping and texting is artificial. Online dating is the ultimate headfuck.

It’s so easy to rashly type something and then hit send with little thought for the consequences. After only a few days texting we can feel as if we’ve shared our innermost depths, and yet our minds gloss over the fact that we haven’t even met this person of our dreams.

This is because we’re ancient beings adapted to a very different life – one that’s lived in air and flesh, not one that’s conducted digitally via swiping keypad and quick-clicked images. And so what’s texted, whispered or messaged is real to us. It’s normal once we step through the doors of digital dating.

And ‘normal’ is about to get a whole new look.

 

PS – I’m revisiting and revising some of my earlier posts from 2017 when I only had a very few curious visitors. I hope you enjoy these stories if you’re a new reader.

About The Apps I’ve Used

There is no denying that social media has changed our lives. As I write this, at least 12 million Australians log onto Facebook every day, and seven in ten Australians use Facebook, one in two uses YouTube, one in five uses Instagram and one in six uses Snapchat. On a global scale, Facebook alone has 1.86 billion monthly users.

This growing reliance on social media has fuelled an escalating interest in digital dating.

I have only ever used the ‘free dating apps’ or websites, of which there are plenty to choose from. You’ll find some listed in the glossary. Paid apps/sites include RSVP and e-Harmony. It’s interesting to note that despite the large pool of dating app users, only one fifth have opted to pay for premium services. Also noteworthy is that 10% of dating sites users leave within the first three months online.

Who Uses These Apps?

The clientele of each app varies a lot depending on the population of your city or state. I sometimes read reviews on app store sites, and usually don’t install an app unless the rating is above four out of five stars.

Check that the review comments don’t reveal irritating or dysfunctional elements. Be prepared to sign over your personal information, location, contacts and access to your photos and usage patterns though! If you read the fine print of the terms and conditions, you might wish you hadn’t.

I used to hold active profiles on several apps or sites. When I was first single again after a long marriage, I aimed to meet someone every week and for a long while, I achieved that. Most of my spare time was spent messaging, meeting and exploring intimacy on several levels. That’s a helluva lot of effort and time though, and life naturally deals us peaks and troughs, so let’s just call that the peak of my interest in online dating!

Some apps are blatant ‘hook-up’ sites and others have broader appeal for people seeking more conventional ‘relationships’.

With any site, its pool of ‘talent’ depends very much on the size of your city or region. In a big city you might have seemingly endless choices, whereas in my city, many sites have fifty or fewer potentials.

There’s a subset of clientele seeking just one-offs (although they’re surprisingly rare), regular connections (friends-with-benefits being the phrase of the era), extra ‘fun’ outside of an open marriage or similar, and those blatantly seeking illicit ‘affairs’.

Later, I’ll explore the topic of infidelity, and the online world as a pervasive enabler.

Is It True That Only Weirdos Do Online Dating?

Some people still believe it but I don’t think so. Just like the smorgasbord of humanity, the world online is populated by people from all walks of life, and they all have their own tale about why they’ve joined a dating site. I’m not a weirdo, or then again maybe I should proudly own that tag?

Statistics tell an interesting story from several perspectives but it’s hard to go past the fact that 80% of Americans now agree that online dating is a good way to meet and 15% of all adults have used a dating site.

Recently Tinder claimed that 15% of Australia’s population – almost 3.5 million people – use their services! But according to Nielsen Research, 74% of singles in Australia are content with their relationship status, although 63% were still hedging their bets with online matchmaking.

Forbes cites data gathered by research company Pew that over the past two years, online dating has increased for every age group, with a notable rise in use by ‘middle-aged and older adults’.

Combined, people over 35 make up the highest users by age of online dating services. And in this age bracket, one in six people found love online.

Who Is The Average Online Dater?

Well, the average male online dater has never been married before, but the average female dater is searching for a new romance after going through a divorce. And because she has already been in a relationship, she also typically has multiple children and says she isn’t interested in having any more.

The average man, on the other hand, is not a parent and says he may consider having kids some day. Already the statistics show that men and women aren’t necessarily after the same thing.

And so I’m clearly in the ‘average’ bracket in this regard! My own experiences have led me to re-examine what might appear to be an innocuous form of social media. I’ve learned about online norms and lingo. I’ve expanded my social confidence and tested the boundaries of my desirability and sexuality. I’ve thumbed my nose at age conventions and the holy grail of society, monogamy.

My experiences have changed me, that’s for sure. On this blog, I will share some of my experiences and discoveries. Frank and fearless, that’s me.

 

PS – all stats from http://www.datingsitesreviews.com  (2017)