A friend of mine’s daughter Katy runs a website called All Sweetness and Light http://www.all-sweetness-and-life.com which broadly covers online dating. Katy is a witty, sassy woman with a no holds barred, outrageous attitude to sex . It makes for fun reading but on a deeper level does Internet dating work?
It’s obviously one important way of meeting. Yet I have my doubts. The essential problem is you only know what your date chooses to tell you. If a friend acts an intermediary you have a third party that knows both and can provide helpful information. The consequence of Internet dating can be an asymmetric relationship: one party may just want sex under the guise of a relationship, the other wants a secure relationship for which sex is offered to launch. Katy amusingly is critical of us men and our dating techniques but I suspect this asymmetry is at the heart of it.
There is also a new breed of post-feminist woman out there epitomised by Bob Tickler’s p/a Polly and her best friend Grania. Both are highly popular achievers in both their athletic and professional careers not least for their polite, considerate attitude to one and all but significantly neither seeks a secure relationship which they see as inhibiting ther ambitions and life style. I would think that both are happier than the Internet dater.
My concern with the Katys of this dating world is that if the relationship goes awry you would finish up derided on her website. Grania a counsellor specialising in Internet harassment says that malevolent posting, of which I am certainly not accusing Katy, is a source of deep unhappiness. One of the sadnesses for me of the modern age where courtship has fallen by the wayside is the lack of discretion: photos are put up on Facebook, blogs written, texts sent about intimate matters better kept out of the public domain. I am told there is a popular app called what’s app where parties do not just exchange intimate thoughts but photos too. This has replaced “would you like a coffee? ” at the end of a date.
The other consequence which I do not appreciate is that since I have been following Katy’s site and enrolled for it I now get unsolicited emails promotting Internet dating sites.
Sometimes I think our parents’ – or in most cases grandparents’ – generation had it right by taking a more up front attitude to controlling introductions. My mother used to say that you marry a family not a person. I cannot resist ending my post with another of her sayings to a friend who after a year of marriage confessed to her it did not meet her aspirations and she was unhappily contemplating separation
“You don’t get married to be happy, you get married to be married …” she replied . When she passed away two years ago the friend wrote a letter of consolation informing me that forty years later mindful of the comment she was still married.