9 Days, Two Dates: The Diary Of An Online Dater

photographed by Lauren Maccabee.
I've always been the Bridget in my group of friends – forever single and always searching for one of The Ones. At 33, I'm starting to dread Christmas and family events, where I'll inevitably be asked the usual questions: "Still single?" "Seeing anyone nice?" Don't get me wrong, I love my single life – I have brilliant friends and a fulfilling job – but I do feel there's something missing. So I decided to take the plunge and try uk.match.com. Here's how I got on...
Day One: I Am Not Alone
Flanked by my friends Lily and Sara, I start my subscription to match. First we choose my pictures. Lily and Sara plough ruthlessly through my Instagram posts, embarrassing Facebook photos and hundreds of iPhone selfies. Once they're happy with their selection, they give me their blessing to upload them to my profile. Sara wants to take an extra picture so I obligingly pose, smile, pout, look up, look down, look left and right until she finds my best angle and we upload that, too.
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My philosophy is less is more, so my description reads simply: cheese and red wine. (I'm French, can you tell?) Now to fill in the finer details; rather than being a long, drawn-out process, it's actually really intuitive and I'm finished in no time at all. Lily and Sara are chomping at the bit to start looking for potential future husbands, so we up the pace.
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Am I ready for a relationship? Yes, please. What I'm looking for: 28-42 years old, no height or weight criteria. In an ideal world, I would love him to be tall, with short hair and green eyes and a sensitive, generous personality but I know I've got to be real so I leave it to faith/match to decide.
Day Two: Love Requires Dedication
"What about him?" "He looks cute!" "Mmm...favourite him!" "Nahhhh." "Argh!" "Ohhhh." Lily, Sara and I are behaving like kids in a sweet shop. I 'wink' and favourite a few but quickly realise I have some deal-breakers: selfies in bed are a no-no, gym selfies an even bigger no-no, one picture only – they must be a murderer.
As my views, winks and favourites increase, I get a big ego boost. It's amazing how a little attention can improve your day. Since it's a level playing field on match and anyone can message first, I bite the bullet and contact a few of my favourites. I start typing "Hey, how are you" before Sara grabs my phone; apparently a simple greeting just won't do. She suggests: "You had me at [insert funny thing from his pictures]." I roll with it and message five guys.
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Days Three And Four: Patience
It seems love requires patience as no one messages me back. I get a few messages from other guys but I'm disappointed – my ego has plummeted and I'm feeling a bit knocked back. I make an effort though, and reply to a couple of the new guys.
Day Five: Shuffling And Juggling
A proud moment: I am now shuffling on my own, swiping left and right to my heart’s content. My day job is full on so I find managing the app while juggling multiple projects a challenge. Suddenly things start to move quickly; I get two guys' numbers and start chatting to them on WhatsApp, while talking to another potential match in the app. It's all a little overwhelming but it's fast becoming my new obsession – I decide to limit myself to checking the app three times a day.
Day Six: Date One?
I have a date! I'm jumping up and down, I'm so pleased with myself. Newbie me is terrified, though. Terrified. I feel totally out of my comfort zone. I feel like I can't remember how to date. What do I wear? How do I even greet him?
Day Seven: D-Date
John* suggests a coffee (I'd rather wine but it's too late to say that now) so we decide to meet in a cute coffee shop not far from work. I'm already shaking and feeling extremely anxious, wondering why I ever agreed to this. I tell John I have a dinner later so I have an escape route should things go wrong. When he arrives, I kiss him on both cheeks and make a joke about being French; it breaks the ice the tiniest bit. He's shorter than I expected but at 5'4 I can't complain too much. It's all a bit awkward until he brings up that he's new to match too and we bond over the perils of online dating. We talk about music and family and conversation flows a little more. It's clearly not love at first sight but he's a lovely guy and we get on well enough. Conversation starts to dwindle so I mention dinner and we get the bill. I insist on splitting, we kiss again (on the cheek!) and leave. I feel totally drained but it was fun meeting someone new, which can be rare in your 30s. I pick up a pizza and head home to bed.
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Day Eight: Date Two
I'm chatting with Simon*. We have good banter and even send each other a few voice notes (which give me the fear but I do like to hear the sound of his voice). He proposes dinner and I suggest a cute Mexican place near me. Sara and Lily are shook, claiming dinner is a terrible idea for a first date. Obviously oblivious to any dating rules, I begin to wish I could turn back time... The day of the date comes around quickly and I feel exhilarated and nervous; the girls propose a 'personality drink' before dinner, which helps me relax a bit. We chat away and I end up running late (oops). When I arrive he's already there and is even cuter than his pictures, and has a glass of wine waiting for me. Conversation flows and he's so attentive, he charms me. We leave the restaurant and I walk with him to the station where we have a little kiss! Later that evening, I get a message: "Can we meet again?" Yes!
Day Nine: Second Dates?
Both dates have messaged me and I feel like I should meet them both again. I want to give John a chance over wine and see if Simon is up for something equally fun for round two. I check match when I get back home and spot a few more potentials... but decide I want to stick to Simon first and foremost and see how it goes. I can't wait to see what next week will have in store for me on uk.match.com.
*Names have been changed
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