It’s a familiar story. You meet a man, have a glorious wedding, move to the suburbs and have a couple of kids. You discover the man is a pathological liar who is cheating on you. Then comes the divorce and you find yourself internet dating at 40.
It’s a jungle out there, but you are dedicated to the cause and go on dozens and dozens of blind dates. Where do you begin? With the urbane financier who is a part-time vampire with purpose-filed fangs? Or the man you email for years but never actually meet? Or the ‘adult baby’ whose profile shots include several in nappies. No, you begin at the beginning…
Stage One: The optimist.
You browse through endless profiles. Everyone writes about previous travel destinations, their love of food/wine/air, and their predilection for walks on beach and interludes by the fire. The women are all ‘glass-half-full’ kinda gals, who work out but are never ‘gym junkies’. The men all list The Shawshank Redemption as their favourite film. There are many lovely men and soon you are forced to make a difficult choice between melbprofguy88 and hotdad72. You choose the dashing Irishman who runs a bank and on your first date you talk about literature all night and – here’s the thing – you never see him again. The lovely scientist who you ditched for the Irishman might have been the love of your life, but he knows he’s your second choice and you lose your chance.
Stage two: The numbers game.
Once you’ve weeded out the stalker (that guy who followed you to the supermarket), the teacher with the obsession with train timetables and the seriously depressed artist, you end up dating the IT guy who only seems to have one or two suitcases of emotional baggage. Phew. You relax, enjoy a getaway or two together and get down to the business of getting to know each other. Then he dumps you because you pick up his phone by mistake.
Stage three: The cynic.
You are a little jaded. You no longer reply to 19-year-old wannaolderbabe and you start getting serious about the details. You meticulously check the backgrounds of profile photos to see if they:
a) live with their mum or
b) live in a tent. (Both of these happen)
You work those search engines and research someone who might be vaguely suitable. You are no longer surprised by how swiftly your dates barrel into sexting and nude pics. Not much can shock you now. In the process you stumble on your first love from when you were 18 years old. You go on a fun date. Turns out he is still the same (and maybe so are you) but it’s too weird and you bust apart after two dates. You start to think you will never find love again.
Stage four: The pro.
You know what you’re doing now and you can spot a liar or a married man by the third message. You have rules in place:
1. Always meet for coffee, in public, in daylight.
2. Don’t drink too much.
3. Don’t spend the night betting on red at Crown Casino.
It’s not a perfect system – you end up getting involved with a physiotherapist who says he ‘isn’t quite ready’ to commit, then discover he still lives with his wife.
Stage five: The believer.
You can’t kill the romantic in you. Tonight you will frock up for a second date with a journalist, with a frisson of excitement and your best lippy on and you will hope for the magic. You never know, this one might be the one.
*Georgie Jones is the pseudonym of a Melbourne-based writer.