I’m getting political. I’ve decided to start a campaign to make people’s lives better. I’m sick of life being all me me me. I want to be civic minded. To fight for the issues that matter. To take a stand where it counts. I’m finally going to do my bit like a brave, fierce, towering suffragette. I’ll be sending out emails shortly and I hope you’ll join me in the struggle because, frankly, I’ve had enough. I’m campaigning to change the phrase ‘love life’ to ‘relentless terrible dating life’. Bear with me. It’s a move that will help millions of single people being interrogated about their personal lives. Now, when someone asks, “how’s your relentless, terrible dating life?” and you reply, “yep, fine, the same,” you can quickly convey the deep, yawning, knawing, soul-eroding horror of dating without shocking people or making them cry.
And it’s over. 10 days. 15 messages. I’m not even sure I can use the word over – did it ever really begin? It was all going well until I suggested meeting up. We’d ticked off friends and homes and passions with no major upsets. We’d had a cheeky flirt – just a flash of thigh, a spot of conversational cleavage – to up the anticipation. We’d swapped our real names, which in the world of anonymous internet dating is, well, keen. Then I ask about meeting up and she goes as squirmy as fish in a bucket. “I’m sure a cocktail is doable,” she says vaguely. Uh huh, uh huh, but, um, when exactly? I think. Still, I take the hint and drop it. A few days later, fresh off a bottle of Pinot, I text her suggesting we book something in.
From famine – to feast. I’ve joined a dating website and things are finally hotting up. Well, I’m talking to three people. Maybe things are warming up. Taking the chill off? I’m wearing a light cardigan in the Arctic. Either way, this is good. It’s been 4 months since I last shared a bed with someone – time to get some flesh on these pallid bones. My favourite (favourite – what luxury!) is obviously a woman who lives in Manchester. Why date someone from your home town when you can date someone 3 hours away? I wonder how far my search for ‘the One’ should go. Coffee in Edinburgh? Dinner in Paris? A quickie in the Gambia? Maybe this is what love looks like post-globalisation. I get my T-shirts from Taiwan and my orgasms from Timbuktu.
Writing a good dating profile is hard. There’s so much pressure to cram your whole self into a couple of sentences and a photo. What if you miss off some vital bit of information that could have elevated your profile from a ‘no’ to a ‘maybe’ or even a ‘yes’? What if, off paper, you and the other person are perfect for one another but none of your words fit together as they should?
I don’t know about you, but sometimes my head can go a bit…wonky. Everything might look fine from the outside – the walls have been freshly painted, the windows are sparkling – but inside the telly’s been smashed, there are books all over the floor and moths have eaten half my dress collection. I wonder if this is how people who are depressed feel. Like the inside of their head’s been vandalised.
“Go on, send her a message.” “No.” “It’ll be fun! Look, she’s a pole dancer!” “No, what’s the point? I’ll be going home soon.” “That’s the point! Or what about this one? She’s cute.” “Dammit woman, no! I don’t want to have empty sex with some stranger.” “Fine.”
I think I’ve realised why people get married so young. I always wondered what the big rush was. What’s your hurry honey? Forever can wait another year or two. Strap on a backpack and hit the road. See the world. Make love with the wrong people. Make friends with the right people. Mess up. Learn. Fill your head with memories that will nourish you in the decades to come.