Guardian Soulmates: The house always wins

I am one of those people who suffers from depression for no particular reason. Just very lucky, I guess. Christmas is guaranteed to bring the moving men into my brain for a sustained period of time. They have already been here for a while and seem to have made themselves comfortable with tea and biscuits. I wish they would fuck off.

I really didn’t need the added stress of my experiment with online dating. Thankfully the month on Guardian Soulmates, which was starting resemble a crawl along a country road in night fog, is drawing to a close in a few days. It has been exhausting, not terribly amusing (Tinder was far better for that particular characteristic) and about as pointless as sorting your biros into working and non-working piles. Well actually the latter gives you a sense of achievement. A working biro is a fine thing. Guardian Soulmates has played easily to my confirmation bias: it is replete with divorced men, anxious to show you they are modern with the right ‘isms’ (feminism) and none of the wrong ones (racism). As I’ve already written here, they are a judgemental lot, these lefty, non-smoking, vegan types but then I’ve increasingly come to believe that the modern lefty (unlike the more authentic ones of say 30 years ago) deals in absolutes. And has no sense of fun. My most overriding impression of Guardian Soulmates was a palpable lack of any sense of fun, though plenty of men were at pains to inform me they did indeed have adventures. But all I found were a lot of men trying to play catch up in their lives. Not a good look.

Online dating is not like dating. It is not dating at all. It is more like trying to win back your losses at a casino. Everyone around me is doing it, attempting to leave with a net gain. After every stream of messages that ends in absolutely nothing you know, deep down, that you should go home but here you are, in the early hours of the morning searching for that big hit that will obliterate all previous disasters. You get a few desultory payouts from the poker machines, a dribble of coins, but nothing you can build on. Now the place is pretty much deserted, but you still think you must be able to strike gold. You are in that danger zone,  the one where you are unable to recognise an unattractive proposition and so you keep going back for more. Clocks? What clocks?

As the tables clear you take what little sanity/dignity/respect you have left and head for the cloakroom. There are already people going back in for more. It’s highly addictive, this promise of potentially unlimited winnings. It just might happen. But it probably won’t. While the online dating world offers seemingly infinite potential – and I would suggest that is its real attraction rather than finding the one – it’s mostly  just a fabrication of our ideals. And that is why it is so attractive both to those who are fearful of life and those who fantasise about it. The fact that very little actually happens doesn’t trouble them. As long as they can keep visiting and pretend that it will happen, they are almost doing it. And for most people, that seems to be enough.

9 comments for “Guardian Soulmates: The house always wins

  1. Nigel Brand
    December 15, 2014 at 19:12

    All very amusing and unfortunately very true. Don’t know how these people can keep playing with the sweets and yet never wanting to eat them.

  2. Nigel Brand
    January 5, 2015 at 19:30

    Talking of which, being 2015 and all that, are you testing the UKIPs that troll the telegraph dating site?

  3. woe
    January 5, 2015 at 19:50

    I think online dating was the reason for my prolonged flu. I realised that as a woman who has never made any kind of list in her life and tends to freestyle, it was never going to suit me. Most of all, it is absolutely no fucking fun.

    • Nigel Brand
      January 5, 2015 at 21:34

      Do you 1)like fun? 2)have a gsoh? 3)like to cuddle up in front of a fire with a dog and a hot toddy? I know what you mean.

  4. April 30, 2015 at 18:28

    Oh dear, our experiences sound rather similar (http://onlinedatingisshite.com/). Although I’ve begun to wonder if there’s not a decent underground sect of cynics on the site who might actually get on quite well. We just need some way of identifying each other; like burglars marking likely houses with chalk.

    • woe
      April 30, 2015 at 19:05

      You are so spot on. I’m not a natural online dater anyway: I like the heat and excitement of a random occurrence. As you rightly say, it’s all backwards. Guardian was the pits. Devoid of any passion or fun.

      Orange uniforms for ID. Though I am using those for my scheme to delineate slow walking tourists from the rest of us so that might not work…hmmm

      • May 3, 2015 at 20:06

        I was thinking maybe a badge on the tube. Like those ‘baby on board’ ones. Or perhaps we need special hand signals, like Dickensian thieves’ guilds, or masonic policemen.

  5. woe
    May 3, 2015 at 20:19

    There used to a be a group online I hung out with, people who had been banned by the mods on the Guardian for commentary online. What we need is real life meetings, for people who spent their lives doing real life and now feel lost. Kind of like AA.”Hello, I’m WOE and I do real life dating.” And people nod solemnly at first and then the evening gets seriously fun and debauched.

  6. guattarii
    August 11, 2016 at 10:00

    Can only partly agree with this – yes, a lot of online dating is pointless chasing to make people feel better with people . But the criticism of judgemental “divorced men” who want to show they are feminist and not racist is pretty unfair (and highly judgemental itself). Would it be better if dating sites were full of misogynist racists? Are divorced men not allowed to try and find a new relationship? Dating sites by their nature require people to “show off” in a sense or talk themselves up. If you went into it thinking otherwise then you misunderstood how such sites operate. That said, I do agree that they are essentially for people to dream rather than actualise.

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