friendship

How online dating showed me how shockingly shallow I am.

When you’ve had stand-up fights with your grandmother over a Sunday roast about whether the word ‘darkie’ is acceptable (IT’S NOT. EVER.), and screamed to the point of tears at your dad who might, or might not, have once voted One Nation (also Not Okay. Ever.) you tend to think you’re in the clear when it comes to prejudice.

Turns out self-knowledge is not one of my strong points. I make split-second judgments about people based on nothing much. What’s more, I’m one of the most shallow people walking the earth. And worse than that, I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW these things about myself.

Well, not until I dipped my toe into online dating.

Online dating is a stressy, flattering, depressing and generally very weird space. You wonder how your profile presents. You wonder how much of the profile you’re reading is bollocks. You wonder if maybe this handsome, apparently single, 50-something GOD in a boat of his own off the coast of Greece could be Mr Oh-Yes-Please.

And then he rejects your advances and you slink toward a glass of chardonnay with a sympathetic friend and resolve to give it all away.

Tom Hanks would definitely be a Mr Oh-Yes-Please. Image: Tumblr.

Until you don't. Because you're a bit sick of being number seven at the dinner party. And you've met all your mates' eligibles and none of them jingle your bells. And binge watching TV is so much better when you've got someone to binge watch with.

So I signed up to one of the bigger online dating sites.

I learned rapidly to dispense with weeks of emails and move fast to an actual, in-the-flesh meeting.

It took longer for me to realise that I'm not really the kind of person I want to be friends with.

'John' was a lovely chap on paper, and a nice bloke in person. He even looked like his photograph (anyone who has ventured into onlline dating will tell you this can be a rarity).

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White shirt, black trousers, black cardigan (Country Road-ish, not grandpa does the garden-ish). And then, a problem.

Sandals.

I'm not opposed to sandals per se. But these were the hiking kind. And noone likes to see toenails that early in a potential relationship. That's when I met the 'I-am-a-tastemaker-who-should-be-editing-GQ' me.

SANDALS.

Next came James. He'd forgotten to disclose he was married. Hello pursey-lipped moralist me.

A few men later, 'Tim'. He was very quiet. Nothing wrong with that. But his serene silence seemed entirely at odds with the large onyx ring affixed to his pinky. A ring surrounded by quite chunky diamonds.

It was hypnotic, which might have been the effect Tim was after. But it's a problem when you're trying to fill a lot of empty airtime and there's a glinting distraction just off to the left. And it's on a man's little finger.

I'm sorry. That's just wrong.

'Terry' used words like 'uvver' and 'Coleses'. Hello, snobby me.

'Sam' was tall. Like, really tall. Six-foot-nine tall. I'm no dwarf, but I could see problems ahead, not least of which would be crixed necks (mine) and banged heads (his).

Then 'Rob'. Aaahh yes, Rob. He wanted to meet at a bar in the city at noon on a Tuesday. I ordered a white wine. He ordered a DOUBLE JIM BEAM AND COKE. Excessive? A bit. (Greetings, hypocritical me).

But the booze was just the half of it. Rob spoke fondly of himself in the third person. "Robbie likes this pub." 'Robbie's favourite thing is a Sunday barbie with a few mates."  "Robbie thinks you need another drink."

'Robbie' worked in surveillance, and was right up to speed with some very disturbing gadgets that were both hard to spot and deeply invasive. It shouldn't have been a surprise when I got a text message from him (he didn't have my number) saying 'Robbie wonders why Lizzie isn't answering his calls.'

But he eventually went away and I made the not-so-startling realisation men who drank hard liquor at lunchtime weren't for me, and that I could probably do without a man (friend/acquaintance/goldfish) who never used a first person pronoun.

So this is the prejudiced person I am: I'm shoe-ist. I'm ring-ist. I'm drink-ist. I'm speak-ist. I'm height-ist.

These could have been the nicest men in the world. Well, except Rob. But there's no way on earth I could get past these little things and embark on round two.

I've had the lectures - mostly they boil down to 'You're too picky', and maybe I am.

On the upside, I'm learning things about myself I never thought I would.

It's a shock to find I'm pretty shallow and I'm deeply prejudiced.

But you know what? I can live with it.

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