Friend of a Friend
September 20, 2011 § 38 Comments
Most days people give me advice because people see a plankton and simply can’t resist, much like mothers who see pregnant women, especially first-timers, and invariably put their oar in. Just can’t help themselves. It is a form of social Tourette’s.
High on the list of advice I receive is, “You should try internet dating.” Every one of those who dishes out this gem of inspiration has a happy-ever-after cyber story. But for the time being, online searching is high on my list of things to avoid. I am not of a completely closed mind, but want to give myself a little more time yet.
I have a divorced, ex-plankton friend who worked the internet for dates for almost ten years. She came across a few weirdos but fortunately didn’t have any scary experiences. She had a couple of relationships which didn’t last but were pleasant enough, and made two or three mates out of it, something definitely not to be sniffed at. But, ultimately, she said, it was very hard work and for the most part extremely dispiriting. The greatest benefit at the time was being able to regale her friends with anecdotes of some of the more appalling dates she went on. Eventually she found even that began to pall, the whole thing too humiliating, and zapping to the self-esteem. After years of admirable persistence, she gave up online dating for good.
Since then, she has been lucky enough to meet a divorced man through some friends who cleverly helped to get their romance off the ground. Some years later, she is still happily with this man. She told me that one of the problems with internet dating is that, while you may have things in common with those you meet (the main thrust of online profiles, after all), you never have friends in common. The men you date are – obviously – complete strangers. Of course, this needn’t be a hinderance to a successful and lasting relationship, and many people positively embrace the idea of meeting someone completely removed from their own background or circle. But my friend said that after years of internet dates, the pleasure of being with someone with whom she didn’t have to start completely from scratch, as it were, was untold. They keep discovering friends in common and points of contact, and that feels reassuring and joyful rather than claustrophobic. They had a short-hand of understanding from the start which had a basis not just in that all-important “spark”, which strangers can also provide, but also in a view and/or experience of the world that was roughly similar. This may seem insular but I can see the advantages.
I’d like to give it a try first, and if I fail, then resort to the internet. Call me narrow-minded but I think, if possible (and I am under no illusions that it’s easy), it would be especially good to meet a friend of a friend.