If in doubt, ask…


So, as I may have mentioned once or twice before, online dating is kind of awful. And by ‘kind of’, I mean it is a hellscape nightmare-inducing shitshow where dreams go to die. There is something so toe-curlingly awkward about walking into a bar/restaurant/clown-orgy not really knowing what the person you’re meeting will look like (because it turns out that that picture of him hang-gliding off a cliff on a pterodactyl wasn’t as accurate as you had been led to believe), only to spend the next two hours of your life realising that you don’t like hang-gliding OR pterodactyls, and you have absolutely nothing in common.

We’ve all been there.

But there is one thing I will say in defence of online dating – it sure does know how to put the big issues on the table straight out the gate. This is, of course, dependent on people answering the questions that the likes of OKCupid ask honestly; but in my experience, said levels of honesty are staggering. I don’t know if it’s the relative anonymity of it all, but filling in an online questionnaire gives rise to all sorts of useful information about your potential date, and my god does it paint a picture. Eg:

The people who are completely open about the fact that they’re racist. Questions that amount to the equivalent of that person saying ‘no non-whites, please’, occasionally accompanied by an attempt at explaining that ‘they’re not racist, but…’ Champions who should under no circumstances be kicked repeatedly in the nadgers with a steal toe-capped boot.

I have come across, on more than one occasion, guys who have answered that they are ‘very interested’ in rape fantasy. Now, people experimenting is grand in my book. If it floats your boat and everyone is on-board and consenting then, by all means, have at it. But the key here is ‘consent’ which, as you may or may not be aware, is completely at odds with rape as a concept. I get that some people might have a consensual fantasy of rape, but any man who is ‘very keen’ for this rings all the alarm bells there have ever been.

On the marginally less horrifying end of the spectrum, there is the question of whether, in a certain light, nuclear war would be exciting. A surprising number of people felt that, yes, being incinerated by a nuclear explosion would be a cracking way to spend the afternoon. I would definitely agree that it would be different, in a fleeting and explodey kind of way, but it’s not my number one choice for how I’d like to leave this planet. They say that the best question to gauge compatibility is ‘do you like horror films?’ I would humbly suggest that this question is a fairly close second.

While all of this opens doors that most people prefer to keep shut at the early stage of a relationship, I’m all for it. It’s fine and dandy to pretend that you don’t pee with the door open when no-one else is around. This is not a deal-breaker for most people. But I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that ‘I’m secretly a closet-racist with fantasies of raping people as the world goes up in a mushroom cloud’ probably is. That’s definitely not something you want coming out at the wedding rehearsal.

So if there is one thing I would take from the world of online dating into the heady world of ‘nervously meeting random people your friends scraped off the street in an ever more desperate attempt to save you from the world of online dating’, it would be this. Go through the dating sites and dig out the most awkward questions you can find. Roll them out on the date, like one of those cartoon character lists that reach the door of the bar/restaurant/clown orgy that you’re at, and just go wild!

What’s the worst that could happen?

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