With references to the Royal Wedding now moving to the rear of the women’s magazines, we can all finally go back to worrying about our OWN relationship statuses.

It’s 2011. It’s the future! And what was once the future of dating is now very much the present, with more and more Australians turning to the Internet in search of love.

But the politics of online courtship are quite bizarre. In a way it’s a throwback to those old school rules of romance.

On most dating websites, in order to initiate communication with a potential date, you must first send a ‘contact request’. It’s almost like sending a letter to your sweetheart’s father, ‘may I write your daughter?’

That rigid system of gentlemanly intention faded out with the invention of the telephone, the motor car and Germaine Greer.

Funny then to think we’ve come full circle.

On Oasis Active – Australia’s most popular dating site – lonely hearts have several standard one-liners he or she can attach to a contact request, including ‘we have common interests’, ‘I think you are really hot’ and of course the old favourite: ‘I like your profile and hope to learn more about you.’

The receiver can then take a gander at the sender’s profile and decide whether or not to open a channel of instant chat. If yes, then let the IM flirtations begin!

If not, there are a helpful selection of gentle let downs, including ‘sorry, but I don’t think you’re my type’, ‘you don’t match my seeking criteria’ and ‘I’m too busy right now.’

Could you imagine if this happened in real life social situations?

A guy approaches a girl (or vice versa) and says ‘I would like to tell you a little more about myself’ but further interaction is immediately blocked with the response ‘we don’t share the same interests.’

And that’s it. There’s no opportunity for rebuttal! Move right along.

Although something men can do online that they can’t do down the pub is approach thirty single women in the space of about three minutes. And this happens, much to the annoyance of female users who are instantly bombarded with dozens of contact requests the second they log on.

At least on these dating sites you know the people are probably single. And looking. It takes away some of the guesswork.

The rest of the guesswork can be taken away via a quick browse of the personal profile: a brief description of the lonely heart with some key stats and an even briefer description of what they’re looking for.

But here’s another problem. Everyone describes themselves in exactly the same way: easygoing, down to earth, love going out or sitting at home watching a DVD.

And if someone isn’t like this at all, obviously they’re going to lie and list these qualities anyway. I mean, who’s going to advertise themselves as hard-going, head in the clouds and really hates watching DVDs? Everyone loves watching DVDs!

As a guy, to have any chance of success, you need your profile to stand out from the crowd. And it’s probably not a good idea, when you do finally get a contact request accepted, to follow it up with a request for sex. Patience guys. Take it easy.

Even if sex is all you’re after, for God’s sake don’t open with it! Would you do that at a bar? Certainly not immediately after ‘hello’. See what I mean?

Of course, there are specialised sex-focused dating sites out there just for you types. Fling Finders for example. But even then, a little small talk goes a long way.

Online dating is a strange mixture of old style courtship with super-charged technology.

I’ve heard many a female user complain the Internet is full of dud guys who are boring, terrible conversationalists, or who just want sex.

Likewise, from my experience it’s full of women who don’t know what they want, over-analyse and who don’t want to talk to me.

Sounds like a pretty accurate reflection of society, I reckon.

That’s not to say the whole thing isn’t a lot of fun.

And who knows? You could even meet a prince or princess, tired of their tedious upper class circles, who’s looking for romance with a simple commoner. You could even be the next Princess Mary. Or King Ralph.

Kind regards,
David M. Green
If I wrote a funny opinion article for MX on “online dating”, that’s what it would look like.

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