My return to dating websites this week has been like getting reacquainted with a crack habit. That familiar warm, fuzzy feeling came flooding back as I perused the legions of smiling thumbnails, luring me back into their lonely world with hot promises of everlasting love.
After a recent period of cold turkey from online dating, I was apparently rehabilitated. I had no cravings, no regrets. But now that I'm back online, chatting to a brunette from Dulwich calling herself "Sandy80", that's all gone out of the window and I'm wondering why I ever left. I've got the buzz again. And it has brought with it waves of clarity. I've suddenly worked out why online dating is so addictive
One of my long-standing issues with these sites is the amount of ugly people on them. I'd estimate the proportion of monsters at roughly 85 per cent. Very often a message will pop into your inbox, prompting a jolt of excitement, and then you'll see the sender's face and be disappointed. It stands to reason that this will happen, because the unattractive are more likely to be unattached.
But I've now realised this doesn't matter. If there are 1,000 girls online and 850 of them are butters, there are still 150 left, which is an enormous amount to choose from.
Invariably, most of these will also be culled for various reasons: poor spelling, inconvenient height, flabby arms, racist views. But as these undesirables are weeded out, you'll gradually form a fairly promising shortlist. Like X Factor finalists, they have passed numerous cruel auditions and beat off huge competition. So by definition, those that remain will be close to perfection - and it's much easier to attain perfection on paper.
That is why online dating is so addictive.
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Someone with an appealing profile and good banter is essentially flawless. Because you haven't met them.
This explains my excitement at the prospect of meeting Sandy80 for cocktails. She looks hot in all of her photos. She is articulate, well-read, intelligent. She makes me laugh, she laughs at me. She doesn't take herself too seriously. She likes dim sum. She's not mental. All of these things are apparent from our virtual interactions.
The dating website is cunningly tapping into my wants and needs. It knows I'm here to meet a nice girl, and all the evidence suggests that this girl is nice. There's a euphoric feeling pulsing through my veins. The drug I'm being sold is not crack, it's not even sex — it's hope.
That's the emotion I'll be taking with me on my date with Sandy80. I'm hoping she is as perfect as she seems. I don't really know anything about her except what she has allowed me to see online - and that's the version of her I'm clinging to. As far as I can tell, we'll get on like a house on fire, then have brilliant sex and live happily ever after. I hope I'm right.