Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dating 101 by ME!!!

Feature article from the February Issue of Cityscape!! 

More people seem to stay single these days than they ever did in Grandad’s day, despite us having cars, telephones, jobs and computers. It seems that all the social networking in the world won’t help in this area. Desperate and dateless might seem like an amusing state to the attached, but for a lot of people Valentine’s Day rolls around every year with still no partner in sight. Fear not – there are some avenues that even the most hardened serial dater won’t have tried. Read on and begin to put some of my ideas into practice – you probably won’t find love in time for this Valentine’s, but there’s no harm in getting started for next year!

My grandparents keep saying to me that if I don’t want to meet a guy who only wants to hang out in bars and get drunk and grope you, stop trying to meet guys in bars! As much as I hate to admit it, they’re right. So, if this is the case, where does one meet eligible singles in this city?
Since moving back to Christchurch three years ago, I have had a string of unsuccessful relationships and disastrous dates. Whilst the tales keep my friends amused, the experience leaves me wondering whether there are any decent single men in this city who don’t have a ton of baggage – if so, how do I find one?
When trying to find a partner, there are various routes to take. The most tried and true is to get a friend to introduce you to someone they know. That way you’ll hopefully avoid finding out that he or she is a raving lunatic – although this is not guaranteed! Personally, this hasn’t really been an option for me. Most of the people I know are foreigners or out-of-towners, or only know couples (why does everyone get married so young in Christchurch?) or 30-year-olds acting like they are 20! If you find yourself in this situation, don’t despair, there are more options to explore.
There are several dating agencies around. For a fee you join their database and they match your qualities and what you are looking for to find you a suitable partner. The upside is that someone is weeding out the dead ends before you even see them. The other bonus is that they only take professional 30-plus people who are serious about finding someone for a relationship. Unfortunately, there are often not enough men on the books to meet the demand of the ladies. Note to decent single men: get yourself registered with one of these companies and you may win the lady lottery! Companies to try are Bonjour and Xpose or Club Evolution.
A slightly different approach is attending singles events such as speed dating or singles dinners. This way you meet a number of people in a relaxed atmosphere (speed dating is actually a lot of fun once you are there – not at all scary like I thought it would be). Companies to try are M Factor Events or Distinctive Dining. The plus side is you get to meet more than one person during the evening, including one-on-one time with potential partners. This means not having to go on lots of individual dates before finding someone you’re interested in. The downside is that you’re competing with everyone else there – and let’s face it, no one likes to be the underdog! The one I attended at Boogie Nights was great fun and people were having a fantastic time, though I’m not sure how successful it was for long-term relationships – by the end of the night people were way too sloshed to chat and it was mostly groping and grinding on the dance floor with a bit of tonsil tennis thrown in to boot!
There are pros and cons in internet dating. Lots of success stories but lots of disaster stories too (I, unfortunately, seem to fall more often into the latter category!). A large part depends on what website you join, so before signing up to anything, do your homework and check them out. Do a quick search to see if there are any potential targets and if the site feels right for you. Keep an open mind but remember that people may seem perfect on paper but in reality they can be far from it. Sound advice from my grandparents (and I hate to admit it, but they’re right) would be that if you do agree to meet people, make sure you tell someone where you are going and what time you’ll be back. Always meet in a public place (ruling out any stalkers finding out where you live) and remember that if it doesn’t feel right or you want out, just make a polite excuse and leg it! I have bravely gone on a few dates with guys from various sites but so far these have been disasters and only served to highly amuse everyone when I retold the stories!
First there was the extremely short guy who, even before the main course had arrived, told me I could buy an $85,000 engagement ring and had planned the layout of our house. Then the hung-over and unresponsive guy who, after having a hair-of-the-dog beer, proceeded to tell me he was awaiting DNA test results to see if he was the father of a one-night-stand’s child! Next was the one who took me on a first date to Denny’s and told me I wasn’t allowed to order anything but the cheapest thing on the menu – and freaked out when I got a second glass of orange juice (he had the full-on cooked breakfast incidentally – oh, and I wasn’t there by the time the food arrived – SOS call!). Then there was the married guy who was apparently separated, but who I happened to see a few weeks later on a family holiday with his wife and kids! Finally, the man who took a glass of ‘fine wine’ off me because I had just eaten a mint, then somehow had me clearing out his freezer (I still don’t know how or why I even started that!). His over-inflated opinion of himself meant he thought he was God’s gift to women (think short, podgy, middle-aged, balding!).
Now, my grandparents would be proud of me for suggesting this next one (and again I hate to admit it, but I think they are right). The way to meet someone nice with common interests is to take up some sort of hobby. I’m not talking about stamp collecting or anything like that, I mean taking classes where there are likely to be eligible singles around. I know quite a few people who have met the partner of their dreams through dance classes, for instance. Personally, the high-heeled, flared-pants-wearing guys at salsa class don’t float my boat, but there have been a few hotties at swing dance. Granted, a lot of guys come with their partner but the odd one is single (or the person you thought was the partner in fact turns out to be just a friend!). Other things to try would be martial arts, a computing course, photography, surfing, sailing – or anything, really, that you have an interest in – whatever the activity, you’re already one step ahead with a shared common interest (I’m guessing you won’t have much luck in knitting club, however).
Although I have had some bumpy dating experiences in the last few years, I am forever the eternal optimist and hopeless romantic. I love to go out on dates and meet new people, and have made several good friends through the various websites, clubs and classes I have been to. So although I haven’t found the man of my dreams there are benefits to trying different options  – as I always say you can never have enough friends. There is still a little glimmer of hope that I may one day find my Prince Charming (send a postcard if you know of any you can pass my way!), but I have to admit that for the time being, I have better things to concentrate on than worrying about being single – and still I wonder if I was right when I was 5 years old and told my Granddad that I would never marry a kiwi.

just a click away …

Findsomeone [] My favourite of them all. Free to join, but you have to be a member to email people – although you can reply to people even if you are not a paid member. There seems to be a better selection of people on here than a lot of other NZ-based sites. I know several people who have ‘found love’ on this site, including my Mum, so there is hope for us all yet! It’s good to see that it has space for people to actually voice their opinions on subjects like children, commitment, love, etc, rather than just the drop-down boxes on a lot of other sites. Really easy to use as well, which is a bonus! [] Not as big as some of the other sites in New Zealand but huge overseas (always good if you want to find yourself an international lover!). You don’t have to pay to place a profile on the site but you do if you want to read or send emails. Be aware that fees are charged in Australian dollars. Match has a good selection of people and because it’s paid for, people seem to take it more seriously and are not just looking for a quick roll in the hay. A great site, and I love checking out the South American hotties!
Matchfinder [] I’m unimpressed with this one. There is a large selection of people on the site, but none seem to be what I’m looking for. Each to their own so you may find the man of your dreams on there. You can reply to emails without being a paid member but you need to pay to send them first.
NZ Dating [] I think this site is the worst of the bunch! It’s free to join and although ‘gold members’ get more search options and privacy controls, anyone can email anyone at any level. I have to say I have had little or no luck at all on here – and not many people I know have either. I am frequently presented with ‘interesting’ photos of guys’ nether regions – seriously, do you really think we like looking at them? – as well as offers to have steamy sessions with a guy and his seven mates, or to watch some guy that looks like he was dropped on his head at birth have some fun on his webcam! Hence I am not holding out much luck for the man of my dreams to suddenly appear on this site.


Nicky said...

I love your honesty. Reading your writing is like listening to you talk. xo

Katherine said...

Thanks hon. Had fun writing this.