Love + Dating

Dating In The Digital Age

December 29, 2015
Dating in the Digital Age

As a 30 year old woman who has made her career out of online publishing I’m on Social Media a lot. This is perfect – I can basically sit on Twitter all day banging on about lipstick or what I had for dinner and call it ‘building my audience’ or ‘honing my voice’. HAHA to that careers advisor who said I’d make a great Lawyer.

Hitting my teens as the internet hit our homes meant my formative years were spent getting to know the world wide web, back in the days when it was a penny a minute and being online meant forfeiting the home phone for the duration. Do you remember asking your mum to call Linda back later because you said you’d meet your pals on MSN Messenger at 6pm? Or this gorgeous noise that signalled the start of your evening’s social life? The internet back in the late 90’s/early 00’s really was a sexy business.

As such the online world is second nature to me and, if you’re reading this blog, I imagine you, too… I Instagram what I eat, I tweet my thoughts on current affairs (by which I mean The Kardashians), I arrange Wine Fridays with my girlfriends on Facebook. I love my hyper-connected life; It’s a scary thought but I’d struggle to live it any other way.

This was all fine when I was married. I was 18 when we met so MySpace was king and the only online history I had was in a locked LiveJournal and a FaceParty account (which now seems to be a hookup site?). If my memory serves me correctly the ex and I joined Facebook at the same time – 9 years ago today! –  so it was a place I was never single. Twitter followed in 2007 followed by Instagram in 2010. Happy (online) days.

But then I got divorced and realised just how much my active online life was affecting my non-existent love life.

Digital Dating

Because of the solitary nature of my work and the fact that I don’t really get out that much I tend to meet men via dating apps. Usually Tinder, because I’m lazy and swiping is easy. But it means that the men I meet have no backstory on me, they don’t know anything about my life at all. Lighthearted non-committal flirting on your phone is all fine and dandy until you get chatting to a guy, swap numbers and start thinking about arranging a date.

I always think revealing my single mother status is a delicate conversation – when am I supposed to do it? The fact makes some men back off immediately yet to others it’s no big deal – either way I’ve never got comfortable with it so I’m always a bit hesitant to lead with a conversation about having kids.

I try and drop it in on the casual but this is a work in progress; “HAHA NO I HAVEN’T SEEN STAR WARS BUT I HAVE GIVEN BIRTH TWICE!!!”

The first (and only time!) I went on a date without revealing I had kids was a disaster. I’m very up on my pre-date due diligence via Google, Facebook and LinkedIn but didn’t expect many men to be the same; until I went out with an IT security expert. Apparently if you Google my first name  + hometown you can find me and my entire digital history. Oops. Do I really want potential suitors reading about thrush, sex and my kids on my blog before our first date? Probably not.

Like I said, due diligence is a must before I date someone in real life. I google them to death, use their phone number to find them on Facebook (it’s a genius tool), skim their Twitter feed and log out of LinkedIn to privately view their professional credentials. This isn’t me just being a bit OTT, though: I’ve learned the hard way how careful you must been when meeting men who are essentially strangers, particularly when children are involved.

In my first single summer I met a man in a London pub – he seemed nice enough. He asked if he could take me out for a fancy dinner and, being unused to being taken out for fancy dinners, I said yes please. A week passed, the day of the date dawned and he emailed me from his work email address as his phone was out of battery, to make arrangements for meeting later. I hadn’t known his full name previously so, my interest piqued, I Googled him.

And found a ream of news stories about his internet paedophilia conviction. He’s still on the sex offender’s register now.

Of course I immediately cancelled the date but that was me told – I would never go on a date with a man without feeling comfortable that I knew as much as possible about them beforehand.

And so I snoop.

Snooping can bite you in the bum, though. Recently I got chatting to an Army Major (swit swoo) on Tinder and managed to find him by Googling his name, location and profession. Out of more of an interest in men in uniform than anything – Police Officers, oi oi – I looked at his LinkedIn, only to realise I was logged in. Therefore he saw me looking. How embarrassing.

The Social Media awkwardness doesn’t end once you find yourself someone to date on the regular, either. I once went out with a semi-famous comedian who chatted me up via Twitter but then refused to acknowledge I existed on the platform. I’m guessing either because I was funnier in 140 characters than him, or had more followers (STILL DO, HAHA). I should have known he was a no-go when he asked me to be his girlfriend in Nandos.

But I wouldn’t be without my Social Media life, whether or not it upsets my love one. For one, I wouldn’t have a job (and that bit’s kind of essential). For another, who would give me compliments on the shade of lipstick I wear out on dates (thanks, Instagram). And where would I go if I couldn’t tweet my way through the awkward encounters?

So for now, it stays. And who knows… one of these days maybe that will be how I’ll meet a really great man.

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15 Comments

  • Reply Molly December 29, 2015 at 9:32 pm

    Oh blimey, this is a total minefield. One that, I’ll be honest, I’ve never really considered before. My husband is a total social media ignorer and completely disinterested in Facebook so when we got together I tried Googling him and he basically didn’t exist. In fact, he didn’t exist until we got together and – 4 years later – I persuaded him to get a Facebook account. A Facebook account which he literally never updates and rarely even logs into. On the other hand, the poor bloke ended up with a woman who was (then) a radio presenter in the area that he taught in, so he regularly had to go into work on a morning where I’d revealed some embarrassing factor in our relationship – and all his pupils would have heard it. It’s made me far more wary of what I post online about him or our girls and it’s one of the big reasons I don’t tend to use their names online. I actually don’t know what I’d do if I was had to date these days. I’d be a total noob, that’s for sure!

    • Reply alice December 31, 2015 at 10:57 am

      Oh wow – thinking back to school I bet that was so much fun for his students to have access to his new girlfriend on the radio. What a treat!!

  • Reply Lori December 29, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    This sounds oh so complicated but I do actually like that you can find out what you want and need to know before commiting to a date rather than an awkward silence and a quick text a friend *escape plan in action* scenario! I have a friend who is struggling whether to put the fact that she has a kid in her info…tricky one. what makes you not want to put it on? Tbh i’m not sure if i would or wouldn’t. Tinder does sound fun though ;) x

    • Reply alice December 30, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      You know, I’m not really sure why I don’t feel comfortable putting it on. I guess I worry about feeling judged on that fact and nothing else? Though I do think that if someone is worried about me having children then they’re obviously not right for me :)

      2016 is going to be the year of ignoring online dating, I think. It’s time for the real world! x

  • Reply John @dadyougeek December 29, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    Flipping heck Alice… please right a book!!! This stuff is funny and doesn’t surprise me that you are funny in 140 characters than that comedian!!

    I love this post, and am kinda thankful I am not single!!

    • Reply alice December 30, 2015 at 10:04 pm

      Ahh thank you so much John!! Believe me this is just the tip of the iceberg… there’s definitely a book-full ;)

  • Reply Alison, Not Another Mummy Blog December 30, 2015 at 11:50 am

    How utterly HORRIFYING about your near miss with that guy. I found this so fascinating to read – why was it not published in the Telegraph though?! This is column gold! PS thank goodness I’m not the only one who always logs out of LinkedIn!!

  • Reply Sarah (Grenglish) December 30, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    So glad you googled that guy before going on a date with him!! Makes me shudder at the thought. I met my husband online 10-years ago. Neither of us were on Facebook or twitter so there was no way to look him up, I just had to trust my intuition… and text my friends every hour on the hour until I got home :-)

    • Reply alice December 30, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      Me too, it’s terrifying isn’t it?! I love that you were one of the early adopters with online dating. It’s changed so much! It can make me a bit lazy I think though… definitely going to give IRL meetings a chance in 2016 x

  • Reply Laura January 1, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    I cant totally imagine how hard it is and I think in some way we all snoop. I do wonder how our kids are going to date and if dating will still be a thing in the future as not many people seem to actually ask each other out in person which in a way is good on one point and bad in another – it allows those working freelance or independently to have a social life but also skips a lot of naturally getting to know people in person – but saying that all my really good friends I have met through blogging and social media and wouldn’t change that for the world

    Laura x

  • Reply Gill Crawshaw January 2, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Oh god, that thing with the guy sounds awful – what a near miss! I think it’s just a sensible thing to do to find out anything you can about someone – it’s not snooping really I reckon, especially when it’s not just you to consider. I’m pretty sure I used to Google guys I went on dates with and that was years ago! PS I always forget about the LinkedIn thing – arghh x

  • Reply Kathryn January 3, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Having met Greig randomly in a bar 10 years ago, it seems like a ridiculously ‘quaint’ way to meet someone now although I still like to call it fate. But would we have met each other now through social media? I reckon I would use every tool I had at my disposable to find out as much about a date beforehand, with just a smidgeon of mystery left that we could discover along the way. So many people I know and love have met through online dating, I think it has genuinely transformed people’s social lives. xx

  • Reply Candy Pop January 3, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Happy New Year!

    What a great read! I met my man via Flickr but I never thought to Google him, I haven’t to this day! Social media really has changed everything, especially for us oversharing bloggers!

  • Reply Paul June 21, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    Alice I saw your article in the Telegraph this morning, having now read your blog posts and others comments on dating, it is very helpful for the unwitting but descent chap to know what not to do, keep em coming.

    *I will be armed and dangerous with the hoover, mop and Mr Sheen pronto.

    • Reply alice June 21, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      If you included those three things in an online dating profile photograph I’m sure you’d be inundated with women in no time!

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