You might have heard of the phrase POF doing the rounds recently. It stands for "Plenty of Fish" and it's a free online dating and matchmaking service for singles. My friends and I set up a fake profile for a look as we had heard it was the new Facebook for singles. However, what we ended up discovering was that it was a hub for cheating boyfriends and bootycalls. Internet dating is big business. Who hasn't sung along to their catchy TV jingles? "I like old movies." or "Girl on the platforms smile." The people in these adverts are attractive and sensible looking individuals who, according to the adverts, have a greater chance of finding their perfect match online. True or False?
Okay, so curiosity killed the cat. I edited my profile and downloaded the iPhone app and had a proper browse minus any photos. Could I find MY perfect match online? The site is interesting. A mixture of people genuinely looking for a relationship, people looking to date and people simply looking for sex. Cue 1000s of pictures of naked torsos and tight underwear with not always positive results.
I set my status to "Looking to date" and struck up a few conversations. "How's POF been for you?" "Caught any fish?" etc. I wanted to find out if people actually met up or if POF was just a grown up version of MSN. I did, rather impulsively, meet up with one guy for fish and chips (an attempt at an original mini date if you will). We had completed similar degrees and happened to have a few mutual friends. The date went well but as a girl with relatively little dating experience, it's safe to say first dates are a bit of a nervous affair. I also question whether these essentially blind dates are ever wholly successful. It's easy to have chemistry with someone via instant messaging, however, I wonder whether having a spark online always results in having a spark in the flesh.
I decided if I was going to have a profile I might as well go the whole hog and put up some pictures. Even if only to compare results pre and post pictures. As a result, after a week and an abundance of emails, I deleted my profile. Messages asking for sex from men with inappropriate pictures. Messages from men nearing my dads age. Sometimes wonderfully witty messages from men who were, no doubt lovely chaps, but were certainly not my type of fish.
I think it's a bit shallow minded and probably a very Scottish attitude but there's a bit of a stigma of desperation attached to dating websites. I wonder, however, if that's just the opinion of a girl who was previously in a five year relationship and who's friends are all in coupled up? I was embarrassed to admit I was using POF. Even more embarrassed to admit I'd went on a date through it and I am fearful of anyone I know actually having viewed my profile. Nevertheless, it seems that anyone who is single (and sometimes those who aren't) is on POF. Do I need to grow up? Do I need to accept that internet dating is where it's at circa 2012?
One guy, very honestly, wrote in his "About Me" section: It's difficult to meet someone who shares the same interests as you on a night out in a club. After university, you rarely get the chance to meet new people and socialise within such a big and diverse circle. And anyway, when you hit a certain age, everyone in that circle begins to or has already paired off. So, true or false... Internet dating provides you with a greater chance of finding your perfect match? Or should we leave it all to destiny and circumstance?