A friend of mine rang me a while ago, all in a tizzy. Her excitement gleamed at the idea of her being privy to the scandal of the century. In fact she had bumped into an old mutual friend of ours, we’ll call him Ted, with his somewhat older, new, lady friend. Having been introduced to her, she asked the enamoured couple the customary: “how did you meet?” question. “Oh it was very romantic, my car had broken down and he came to the rescue”, answered the female companion. Ted, knight in shining armour, being distracted by something or other missed the response. Later, having arranged to meet for drinks, our newly smitten mutual friend let spill that the relationship had actually blossomed online, after numerous dates with others from the same site. No older than 20, Ted had seen fit to find his new amour via a dating site. Shock horror. There is still stigma associated with this increasingly common method of meeting, yet in this whirlwind society in which we live, do the majority of people have time for much more?
As a student, you’d think that there are plenty of opportunities to find that certain someone. Before university I’d created a little movie montage in my mind, complete with romantic soundtrack. I’d catch the strikingly handsome French exchange student’s eye across the lecture theatre, he’d smile, and I’d blush and look coy. He’d arrange for me to bump into him as the throng of students filed out of the lecture theatre, I’d drop my books, among which would be one of his favourites, dashing and intellectual as he was, we’d strike up meaningful conversation over cappuccinos and live happily ever after in his Parisian loft eating macaroons and madeleines. Needless to say that little dream shattered a long time ago when I realised that an awful lot of 20 something male university students are booze guzzling pillocks, a condition heightened considerably as the amount of alcohol consumed increases.
…there exist a plethora of other niche sites all with the aim of finding you your soul mate…
With this in mind, University of London has created uoldating.com. Tagline: “Are you lonely, old and desperate? Well you’re in the right place, because neither are any of our other members.” A painstakingly obvious attempt to dispel any stereotypes most of us harbour about these sites. They go further still, giving ladies free access to the whole site, “just for having two X chromosomes.” As for the other half, “guys, nobody likes a creep, so in order to show that you’re a serious member you are required to pay a small fee to access all areas” (cue innuendo you dirty minded folk). Discriminatory perhaps, it is markedly similar to most London club policies. The more girls in the club, the more guys there are willing to splash their cash in their pursuit of a committed relationship, a one night stand, or something in-between and let’s be honest, more often than not; it’s the second BOTH sexes are after.
While University of London’s dating site may be catered specifically for the London student body, there exist a plethora of other niche sites all with the aim of finding you your soul mate, Friday night partner or friend (with benefits). When deciding whether to sign up, it’s always worth considering what you want out of it, but more importantly what the other users are probably after. Let’s take for example uniformdating.com, “for women and men in uniform and anyone who wants to date a man in uniform”, kinky, I hear you cry. Or rather citydating.com, “matching busy single professionals”, which screams love from the boardroom to the bedroom.
…The stigma that these sites carry still exists…
I consider myself open minded and unprejudiced, however the idea of posting my photos and details online for the world to judge hasn’t the slightest appeal. I am a romantic at heart and want the serendipity, “awh” inducing tale of boy meets girls, happily ever after. It’s hard to deny the horror stories the media bandies about regarding dating site disasters, which is of course plays a large part in the way we perceive them. The stigma that these sites carry still exists, evident through Ted’s story, but their popularity is ever escalating as is the number of people who find romance on them.