I’m back on the dating scene. In earnest. And there must be something in the water because all the new clients that I’ve had in the last month have wanted to partly, or exclusively, talk about dating too.
When I told my mother this fact she looked at me quizzically and said: “And you’re the right person to be helping them with that?”.
Do I feel super confident about writing this post? No.
Do I feel like an expert on the subject matter? No.
Do I feel like I have this dating malarkey totally sussed? No.
Do I ever feel any of these things about the posts I write? No.
So I shall just carry on regardless.
My intention is that this gives something useful or interesting to another single person out there. For them to, perhaps, see the world of dating through a different lens, to choose to approach it with a different mindset or perhaps even, god forbid, an added smattering of optimism.
My experience to date (pun intended)
Of the last 13 years, I’ve been single for 10 of them. And I was single with the mainstream advent of online dating.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on and off various dating sites. Definitely way beyond double figures.
I would get to a point where it felt like the right thing to do. I would enthusiastically fill out or resurrect my profile (some were rather lengthy in those days but, fortunately, I do love a good questionnaire), dig out the best pics, make myself ‘live’, refine my search criteria (how short is too short!?) then spend the rest of the night busily reviewing hundreds of men, merrily sending off likes/pokes/messages in the knowledge that I’d soon be swept off my feet by Prince Charming of Wandsworth (ok, I’d stretch to Clapham at a push).
I’d wake up the next morning with the butterflies of anticipation and very casually reach for my phone wondering whether I’d even have the strength to lift it due to its burden of messages from eligible suitors.
“eric1963 from pinner has sent you a message”
(No offence to anyone from pinner. I’ve never been. I’m sure it’s very nice. Was the first place that popped into my head. I’ll make sure I go very soon.)
Where are the details for match.com customer services? I must report that there is a major fault with my profile. The settings must be wrong. There must have been a technical problem with the messaging functionality because all my replies have disappeared.
I exaggerate a tad.
I made it to a date with big James who told me “The date might have been more fun if you’d been drinking”!
I made it to a second date with little James who, when I told him there wasn’t going to be a third date, burst into tears and said: “But I’ve told my mum about you”.
I went on an extremely painful date with a short bald man, whose name I can’t even remember, who told me that I wasn’t allowed to ask any boring questions like “Tell me about what you do for work?” or “What do you do at the weekends?”. I might have been ok with that if he hadn’t been a total wassock who had nothing interesting to say for himself or ask me in return.
I was wanting to ‘do’ this dating thing whilst also on an equally turbulent journey to work out why I might be experiencing depression. The two were not particularly amicable bedfellows. I’ll leave it at that.
So several months ago, when I chose to be single again, I was filled with a sickly mix of excitement and dread at the prospect of getting myself back into the ‘festering carcass of mediocrity’ that is online dating (those are the words of a rather eloquent chap that I went on a date with last week).
So, what happened next?
I threw myself back into that carcass with wild abandon (not too wild mind).
A true baptism of fire.
I have four different apps.
I went on five dates in one week.
I met one chap who lived down the road for a drink within 90 mins of matching.
And, most surprising of all…..I’m enjoying it.
I now find it fun and interesting, as opposed to depressing and soul destroying.
And what’s changed?
Fundamentally, my mindset.
I have gone from begrudging to enthusiastic – I feel genuinely grateful that this technology exists and that I don’t have to go traipsing round bars trying to find suitable fellas.
For the most part (not sure I will ever completely get rid of the mild whiff of cynic), I’m optimistic about my chances of meeting someone online.
I’ve rid myself of the self-endowed label of ‘not being good at online dating’ and now consider that I have a reasonable level of both success and competence (albeit, I’m not sure what being competent at online dating really means!?).
I know that rejection isn’t about me. Well actually, in some cases, it might be. But if someone doesn’t like the fact that I have a business called The Mental Movement and that I openly talk about my experiences of anxiety and depression then, quite frankly, they can jog on. (Yes, this did happen).
What am I doing differently now?
1. Like I said, I now see online dating as an easy channel and fantastic opportunity to meet interesting fellow humans.
2. I’m accepting that it’s a numbers game.
80% of them will very obviously be unsuitable from the get-go.
50% of the remaining 20% that I think might be suitable, won’t like me back.
50% of the remaining 10% that like me, won’t reply to a message.
50% of the remaining 5% will reveal themselves to be unsuitable within the first few messages (“lol Hannah your funny hahahahahaha lol” – Hana is not lol’ing).
50% of the remaining 2.5% will chat away happily and then disappear for no known reason.
50% of the remaining 1.25% might agree to go to second base – the holy land of whatsapp.
50% of the remaining 0.625% might agree to go on a date.
50% of the remaining 0.31% won’t be as tall/confident/intelligent/funny in person as they were on whatsapp.
50% of the remaining 0.16% won’t want a second date.
50% of the remaining 0.08% might say they want a second date but then disappear.
And I haven’t got any further than that yet.
So I’m very accepting that I will end up getting together with 0.04% of a man. (And apparently, the average height of a man in the UK is 5’9” so my fragment of a man is going to be just shy of 7mm tall). Got to take what you can get.
Or, if my maths is right, I’ve got to review the profiles of 2,500 men in order to possibly get one of them to a second date.
Quite honestly, that feels like it could even be a bit of an underestimate.
Essentially, I’ve got to keep swiping.
3. Everyone I meet is human and will come with their own shortcomings, insecurities and baggage (specifically, now at the grand old age of 38, it’s likely they’ll have children and/or ex-wives) and, most of them, are going to be more nervous than me to be on a first date.
4. I try to be as open and non-judgmental as I reasonably can without compromising my values. If they raise a red flag in one area (as long as it’s not a deal-breaker e.g. they’re a complete chauvinist who expects to make ‘all the important life decisions’ – yes this happened too) I give them the benefit of the doubt.
5. However, if they raise several red flags then I wish them luck and let them go on their merry way.
6. I have a policy of not getting too excited about any one particular chap until we’ve met face to face.
7. Leading on from that, I know it’s all about the pipeline and I’m willing to invest time and effort in filling my pipeline (30 mins a day is my aim). If I’m chatting to someone that I’m vaguely hopeful about then I don’t stop tending to my man-castle because there’s a good chance that I won’t like him when we meet and then I’ll go back to my castle and be disappointed that it’s empty.
8. I try to be playful as often as I can but, of course, without dumbing myself down (a suggestion that was made to be the other week, apparently I might come across as less alpha female if I dumbed myself down occasionally – W T F!).
9. Keeping some sense of mystery about myself by not spewing my life story in the first 48 hours….those of you who know me will know that this is a particular challenge.
10. I try to find a balance between demonstrating that I know what I want and showing a little bit of vulnerability by sharing how I feel (when appropriate).
11. I know what I’m looking for – someone who matches my values of kindness, openness, success (by their own definition), who is smart, playful and strong but gentle. I know I’m going to work best with someone who matches my energetic frequency (I know that sounds a bit woo-woo but I know what it feels like).
12. I’ve discovered that some camaraderie on this journey is a massive bonus. I have a select group of brilliant single girlfriends who are going through the same trials and tribulations and I have never laughed so hard as when we’ve shared our stories and experiences of dating with each other.
13. I know that every bad date is a bloody good story. So none of them are a complete waste of time.
14. Perhaps most importantly, I know myself and love myself a whole load more than I did the last time I played this crazy game.
So there you have it.
The world of dating according to Hana.
Who, at this moment, is still single and fascinated by the microcosm that is online dating.
My very personal opinion is that if you’re single and you’re keen to meet someone then you’re missing a massive opportunity by not being online. I know how scary and depressing it can feel. And I also know that it’s possible to turn your mindset around to enjoy the experience.
And, Prince Charming of Wandsworth, if you’re reading this?
Fancy a drink?
Hey there, in case you didn’t know, I’m Hana and I could be your Personal Mindset Coach.
I’m occasionally known to my clients as ‘the lovely stranger’.
I’m here to help you see things from a different perspective, to choose a different lens, to find different ways of thinking, being and doing – so that you can get out of your head and just get on with living a bloody great life.
If you’d like some support exploring this or other fascinating things about you further, then drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can arrange a cuppa some time to find out if we might like each other enough to work together.
If you like what you’ve read and want more then how’s about downloading my free ‘Where’s your head at?’ ebook – get it right here.