When I first started writing about Friday’s life, I had no idea what form it would take except that I knew I wanted to write about a woman whose marriage falls apart after almost 20 years – showing Friday’s journey from married to separated and bewildered.
What happened next? I really didn’t know.
But around the same time as I was writing, It Started with a Kiss, it seemed a number of acquaintances and friends were going through relationship break ups and found themselves alone, perhaps only with married or ‘coupled’ friends to hang out with.
So, I asked myself, ‘As stay-at-home mothers, working alone or employed in small businesses, how did these women go about socialising again and meeting new people?’ If they didn’t belong to a church, gym or community interest group such as a wine, sky diving, or gardening club…how did they meet potential love interests? How would Friday meet new people and recover her battered self-esteem?
Generally, single women aren’t going to walk into a bar or club by themselves; they will go with a group of friends. But if all those friends are in relationships, it is more likely that women like Friday will be invited to restaurants and dinner parties as opposed to clubs.
I didn’t set out to write about internet dating but the more I spoke to people, the more I realised that this was the norm, especially for woman between the ages of 25 and 60, who were looking companionship – at the very least.
In It Started with a Kiss, online dating takes centre stage when Friday joins KissMeCupid.com and that leads to a few humorous and embarrassing scenes. I loved exploring this aspect of the story and will admit I joined RSVP and e-harmony – purely for research purposes.
In the main, I was upfront with people and told them what I was doing. Some people were really generous with their time and experiences, others shut me down immediately. I was fascinated by the number of people who happily admitted to posting photos of themselves that were at least ten years old, who lied about their age, height, and occupation, to the point of totally reinventing themselves. And to what end? Surely the facade couldn’t continue once they met their ‘dream’ man or woman in person.
Overall, when it comes to internet dating – and I preface this by saying that my experience is limited – You really have to sell yourself and go on a lot more dates than you thought you would. There are thousands of people online and they’re all looking for ‘the one’ or at least for ‘the one who will do for tonight’. It’s a numbers game. In a way it’s like a job interview, you have to present your best self, be positive, and turn up thinking ‘this could be the one’, because if you don’t, you might miss out. Having said that, your ego can really take a battering and often does.
The men and women I spoke with were specific about what they wanted. Initially, it’s all about appearance. And then? Well, some women only wanted to date guys who were ‘wealthy, live in a ‘well-to-do’ suburb and own a yacht.’ But maybe the love of your life will turn out to be a simple guy from the country who is kind and loves animals.
Some of the men I met lied about their age to get into a specific demographic group. I met guys whose profile stated they were 44-years-old, and when I met them they admitted to being 52. The reason they lied?
‘I don’t want to be lumped into that demographic. Anyway, everyone lies about their age.’
It’s the same with photos. Men posted photos of themselves ten years younger and doing outdoorsy activities like hiking, skiing, mountain climbing or fly fishing. In reality, these guys wanted to eat cheese, drink wine and watch reality television – which is fine. But they should have stated this up front. I don’t want to fly fish but drinking wine and eating cheese does it for me.
Selling yourself doesn’t mean outright lying or identity theft. Yes, you want to present your best self but DON’T post a photo of Miranda Kerr unless you are Miranda Kerr. It’s tempting because there are so many others ‘out there’ and you’re trying to get ahead of the pack, but DON’T. You will be caught out and Miranda Kerr will possibly sue you.
And really, the worst thing you can do is compare yourself to others online (i.e. the competition). It will only lead to tears and depression. Dating is meant to be fun.
I didn’t go on Tinder, but the concept intrigues me. ‘Tinder is how people meet. It’s like real life but better.’ Sounds good, hey? And you can download the app for free to your phone. Apparently, you swipe right to like a person or left to pass. If someone likes you back, it’s a match! Again, are people on Tinder showing real photos of themselves…?
Then there’s Adult Matchmaker (sex); cougar dating sites (older women seeking younger men for sex); mature dating sites (for people over 50 seeking sex, but who’s going to admit to that?), internet married dating (for married people looking for more. Presumably sex!); and Lesbian matchmaker (for lesbians…the name kind of gives it away. I assume they’re also after some intimacy.); and that’s only a small cross section of internet dating sites. Then there are the specialty sites for women who particularly like bearded men or clowns. But let’s not go there.
As featured in It Started with a Kiss, kissmecupid.com is an amalgam of all these websites and Friday meets various suitors including a 30 year old drummer, a 45 year old landscape gardener and a more than middle aged couch potato, whom she didn’t stay with long enough to find out his profession.
I hope Friday’s journey will resonate with readers and they’ll realise they’re not alone, and that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The research was fun and I’d be really keen to hear about other women’s adventures and misadventures regarding online dating.