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By Gill Alexander on Oct 6, 08 03:12 PM

I know I extol the virtues of being single but I will admit, at times it can be hard. Nobody to empty the bin for starters. And there isn't, apparently, any totty left for those of us sad saps the wrong side of, ahem, 40. This directly contradicts my own personal experience, which is, yes there is and I should know because I've had a lot of them, but nonetheless, there is definitely a shortage of suitable date material. Men over 40 can pull from a pool of women aged 25 and upwards. So the competition for anyone eligible is fierce.

In fact it is a rare and beautiful week when a Smug Married (yes I know Helen Fielding (hyperlink www.chicklit.co.uk/authors_helenfielding.asp) aka Bridget Jones coined the term) doesn't pull a regretful face and ask me pityingly: "Oh dear Gill; still not found anyone?" "I'm not even looking, ha ha!" I generally trill back with false bonhomie, "I'm perfectly happy as I am!"

And I am, really. I won't deny that the falling in love bit is wonderful. The tummy flips. The hours spent texting dreamily. The thrill of just being in each other's company. It's the falling out of love bit I can't stand. When it's not just their snoring but their breathing that annoys you. The misery of being left to survive on nothing but an overwhelming feeling of rejection. I don't want to get hurt again, but what do I do? Sit back and wait until the menopause, at which point I can breathe a sigh of relief and grow a beard?

I'm sick to the back teeth of watching the Match.com (hyperlink http://www.match.com/matchus/) ads on the telly and hearing probably apocryphal stories of people who met their soul mate via a dating website. I had a good old look at these sites this week. Man, it's a scary world out there.

First off, which website? There's tons of them. Most suggest you complete a personality test in order to ensure compatibility, but what's the point of that? Surely the point of internet dating is to hide all your ghastly faults until you've successfully ensnared your prey? And some sites are right out there on the fringes of 'dating', that is, they're intended purely for those looking for sex. These sites are populated with photographs of their upstanding members, many without faces to accompany them.

Mind you, back on the normal websites, the profiles are a hoot. Most photographs have a jaunty alias attached, usually along the lines of "Funkindaguy" or "Happy2shag". Some even have the disembodied arm of their girlfriend slung protectively round their shoulders. I really thought I was onto something when I found a very good-looking chap until I saw he had given himself the rather startling moniker of "Tinseltits". With hindsight I suspect he hadn't paid close enough attention to which box he had ticked in the Sexual Preferences section.

Some of the less confident candidates seemed to feel their looks and personality didn't quite cut it, and so included a photo of themselves with their car, a Ford Focus presumably counting as the clincher should any fair maiden be dithering about. Actually given the price of petrol at the moment, they should be pictured on a garage forecourt filling up if they really want to boost their profile. Another puzzle was why a large number of men posted photographs of themselves in Thailand, often pictured with an elephant, or, more worryingly, a small boy.

At the less glamorous end of the market was a hopeless-looking chap photographed in what was presumably his allotment. Bless him, his face was plain but his begonias were magnificent. If I ever move out of my flat to a house with a garden, he's the first person I'm calling. Not as a boyfriend you understand, just someone to do the weeding.

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