This post is inspired by this blogpost from Chloe.
When my marriage suddenly ended, as they tend to end very suddenly under the same circumstances, my friend Brummie Dave bought six months at Match.com for me.
I don’t know whether he was trying to get me back on track or scare me away from girls. It was almost the latter.
I had been warned, before dipping my toe in to the Match.com dating pool, that I should be careful, and that all might not be what it seemed.
Those words of advice came from a female equestrian friend who had tried the internet dating scene, and who, after a few unpleasant experiences, had given it up for occasional dips in to the shallow (heterosexual) end of the equestrian pool.
I girded my loins.
Fresh from (and refreshed by) my visit to Texas, I entered the login details that accessed the Match.com account that Brummie Dave had set up for me.
I spent a little while completing the various profiling questionnaires, then went to bed.
When I woke up, five hours later, I had received 25 views, 14 ‘winks’ (what the actual?) and five responses. I went to work, but on the commute I mulled over the responses.
That evening, after reading the profiles of the respondees I discarded four; wrote four polite emails that said I didn’t think we were very compatible.
To be fair to three of them, there wasn’t anything specific; my decision was based more on a general feeling that all might not be quite as advertised, and that compatibility might be less than ideal. For example, no matter how well a respondee phrased their profile, ill-capitalised, text-speak response emails, littered with spelling mistakes; poorly punctuated and containing many rogue apostrophes, indicate that you’re not the person for me.
The fourth was easy to discard, the distance between the two of us was several thousand miles and although I do know there is a lot of evidence that long-distance relationships can work, and they can lead to greater things, I wasn’t looking for that kind of relationship.
That left response number five, which I liked the look of.
The respondee was an academic, working in a field of research I have an understanding. Her profile was witty, interesting, and covered a range of topics I am keen on.
Accompanying her profile was a photograph; an attractive face, open-mouthed smile, entertained by something very amusing.
I contacted the respondee and, for a week or so, we exchanged emails on a daily basis.
We were diverse, funny, and ‘spoke’ about a lot of things; discovered that we had, unsurprisingly, quite a lot of common ground.
We agreed to meet.
She doesn’t drive, so I pointed my car in her direction and pootled the mere 15 miles to her town.
Feeling very nervous, but trying to look cool, I walked in to the restaurant.
Despite being 10 minutes early, she was already seated at the table.
My first reaction, as we exchanged cheek-kisses, was puzzlement; I noticed a pair of walking sticks propped up against the wall behind her chair.
Our conversation started with the mundane, but as we talked about each other in more detail, she revealed that she was suffering from a bone condition that meant she had mobility issues; couldn’t get around without the aid of her sticks. And her condition was deterioriating.
I felt torn.
Would I have made the decision to see this girl, would I have travelled to see her, had I known these things beforehand?
I don’t know.
I tried to put these thoughts out of my head as we continued chatting over our meal.
We quizzed each other on what we were looking for.
I said I was looking for someone I could establish a friendship with, before things took a more serious line.
I also said that the person I was looking for didn’t need to be a precise match; didn’t need to be, for example, an equestrian-type.
I explained that, in my world, a little difference here and there was a good thing, and that finding a person I could be a friend with was more important than anything else.
‘Friends with benefits?’ she asked.
The immediate thought that crossed my mind was that if we attempted to engage in any ‘benefits’, I’d be too frightened to touch her, for fear of causing serious injury.
Later in the conversation, she again hinted that she would be interested in a sexual aspect to a more serious relationship.
Two and a half hours later, it was time to head home. I offered my companion a lift to her house; she accepted.
When we walked to the car, the full scale of her severe mobility issues became apparent.
I took her home, we cheek-kissed and, on the drive back to my house I tried to come up with the least offensive way of saying ‘I don’t think you’re right for me’.