Mr SB and I met on the internet. Having each convinced ourselves of our own inability to attract a mate in the ‘normal’ ways, most of which involved Actually Talking to Someone, we had both signed up to a dating website in an attempt to shop for a partner in the same way we were accustomed to shopping for CDs, but without the assistance of reviews from previous purchasers.

Back in 2005, it was still a bit embarrassing to admit that we’d found each other at the online equivalent of a livestock auction; but six years later, internet dating seems to attract far fewer raised eyebrows. Regular TV adverts promise a money-back guarantee to idealistic singletons who fail to find Mr or Miss Perfection in six months*, which seems ludicrous; but if the matches are based on compatibility questionnaires and photographs considered rationally in the cold light of day, rather than irrationally in the hot, sweaty light of a nightclub after eight Flaming Sambuccas, then why shouldn’t it work?

I’ll tell you why not: because questionnaires don’t ask the right questions. A typical dating profile will include information about your prospective partner’s taste in music, their occupation, their hobbies, their religious beliefs, their political opinions. None of that matters. Not many couples split up because one of them likes Stravinsky and the other likes ZZ Top, or because one goes flower arranging on a Tuesday night while the other prefers snowboarding at the local dry ski slope. In fact, differences like these can be a good thing.  Who wants to live with someone who brings them no new horizons to explore?

He might look lovely, but do you really want a man who makes you sit on the floor?

What actually matters is not similarities between arbitrary hobbies and interests, but similarities between non-arbitrary, immutable aspects of each other’s behaviour. And so what the compatibility questionnaires should really be asking is:

1. You see a pair of dirty socks on the living room floor. Do you: a) sigh, curse under your breath, pick them up and put them in the laundry basket; b) roll them into a ball, spend ten minutes playing basketball with them, then accidentally leave them in the yucca pot when the phone rings; or c) what socks?

2. You are preparing for a romantic night out with your partner. Would you prefer to: a) go to a smart restaurant with creative, adventurous food and an extensive wine list; b) see something challenging, yet ultimately uplifiting, at the theatre, then have a few drinks at the champagne bar next door; or c) spend an hour and a half rummaging through your wardrobe for an outfit that doesn’t make you look like a premenstrual hippo, then burst into tears, put your dressing gown on, and demand that your partner orders a Chinese?

3. You are booking a holiday.  Is it most likely to be: a) a relaxing all-inclusive break on a tropical island; b) backpacking in the Himalayas; or c) a three week caravanning tour of The Historic Churches Of Northamptonshire?

4. You need to find your driving licence. Which of the following is most likely to describe the search: a) no problem – it’s in the fireproof safe under the stairs, the key’s at the left hand side of the third drawer down in the sideboard, under the Travel Scrabble; b) it might take a few minutes – I had it the other week when I collected that parcel, so it’s probably still in my handbag, or I might have put it back in the box on top of the wardrobe; or c) fuuuckitmustbeheresomewhere?

5. You are grocery shopping with your partner. Are you most likely to: a) take a list printed off from your computer – after all, you buy pretty much the same stuff every week, so it’s easier just to tick the things you need than writing it down every time; b) buy food for the week according to what’s on special offer when you arrive, with a few little treats for the weekend; or c) take the trolley and wander off to look at the electrical items while your partner carries armfuls of toilet rolls and economy carrots round the freezer section like a bewildered, irritable Sherpa?

6. Is your perfect partner: a) a true soulmate – someone who shares my dreams, ideals, and love of nineteenth-century Ukranian poetry; b) someone with the face of George Clooney, the body of Rafael Nadal and the mind of Stephen Fry; or c) someone who doesn’t smell like too much a dead badger and who might be willing to put the bins out sometimes?

See, all you really need is a little honesty.

(*for the record, it took me three years, and Mr SB one week. It’s just possible that one of us is much pickier than the other.)


~ by somethingblonde on February 27, 2011.

One Response to “WLTM”

  1. Oh-Mi-God… Thank you for this post… it was just what I needed today… I almost peed my pants laughing at the irritable Sherpa comment, and the thought of my partner smelling like a dead badger!! You have made my day!!! And just to comment on the actual post, so true, there are much more important things that these sites should be asking… I agree!!!

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