Date 2: The Married Woman

So, my 2nd date. I'd convinced myself that to keep the blog interesting, I should split 50/50 between "dating sites no-one in their right mind would go on" and "dating sites that are in theory normal, but are probably full of weirdos anyway". I've currently got dating profiles on 10 "sensible sites" and 8 on "weirdo sites".

Sadly, my first date (with the Biter) was from OK Cupid, a fairly normal site. So... date 2 has to be from my list of scary sites. Now, I'm not quite ready to go on (Dating ladies in prison) or (Dating for people preparing for the Apocalypse - tagline "Don't face the future alone"). I thought I'd go for weird, but not *too* weird; that's how I ended up on - the dating site where married people go to look for affairs (tagline - "Life is short: Have an Affair").

As you can imagine, it's a pretty seedy place. It's not cheap either - for men, anyway. Women join for free, and message for free, but men have to pay about £40 for the privilege of being able to send 100 messages; when you run out of messages you have to buy more. You can also spend more money for being moved on to the front of the search results, being advertised in emails - you really can sink quite a bit of money into it, if you want to. Fortunately, I spotted a cheap deal (thanks, google adwords) and got a free day as a "Priority Man". I might add that to my business cards:)

Filling out the profile was challenging - as well as the normal essay entitled "Women should date Willard: Discuss" there's a fairly exhaustive list of sexual checkboxes (illustrated below). I wasn't even aware "Erotic tickling" was a thing.

As this is partly journalism, I was tempted to turn all the dials to "extraordinarily opened minded pervert" and see what rolled in, but instead, bearing in mind I do actually want to go on nice dates, I checked "Cuddling & Hugging", "Kissing", "Conventional Sex" and "Open to Experimentation", or as I like to think of it, "Vanilla is the most popular flavour FOR A REASON".

Anyway, I saved it all, pressed send, and unlike most dating sites, I started getting messages right away - within 2 minutes of my profile being approved. It seemed being a "Priority man" was working. I replied, and was repeatedly complimented for my ability to spell, and also the fact I was interested in actually talking to women, knowing their names, you know, that sort of basic human interaction. It turns out, in the world of Ashley Madison, if you don't instantly segue to asking to see a woman's breasts in text speak, you are quite the player.

So after about an hour of chatting, I arranged a date. She was a "professional, 39, attached but seeking men". The only thing she liked that I hadn't listed was "Bubble Baths for 2", so I figured I was likely to come out of this date unscathed, at the very least (it's only writing this I've realised she could have been "the drowner", but hey, she wasn't). We had similar interests, and to be honest, if she hadn't been you know, married, I would have probably have been really excited.

Instead, on the day of the date, I left work with a leaden weight in my stomach. Was I really going to do this? Go on a date with a married woman? But I girded my loins, and turned up to the bar. She turned up, obviously having come straight from work, in a very sharp, very expensive suit, and we immediately got down to a good chat. She was lovely, very entertaining, extremely smart - the very definition of the successful career woman. We shared life stories over a couple of Gin & Tonics. 

Inevitably, the subject of her family life came up. She had three kids with her "apelike" husband, and after the birth of her first child, he'd largely lost interest in her. They now slept in separate rooms, and hadn't had sex in three years, but both were relatively traditional, staying together "for the sake of the kids". That said, she wanted a bit more in her life. We got talking, stayed in the pub for dinner. She told me about other people she's met on Ashley Madison - apparently, being a woman on a dating site largely populated by men is not at all pleasant.

She gets plenty of attention; as many as 250 messages a week (meaning, by my calculation, she generates about eighty quid a week for the owners of Ashley Madison), but the vast bulk of them are, as she put it, "total creepers". She was very good looking, so got a huge amount of messages that were explicitly sexual. She said she'd been sent hundreds of keys to men's private online photo galleries, but had learned not to look, as almost all of them would be walls of pictures of cocks and torsos. She showed me a few (I explained, for the blog), and some men will literally write messages on their penises in marker pen, then take photos of them, and send them. It's very odd, this online dating lark.

It was all in all, a pleasant evening - right up to the point where her phone rang - I could see from the display it was her husband calling. She made a clearly well practiced excuse, and it wasn't like he turned up brandishing a fire axe (a shame, for blogging purposes), but it left an odd taste in my mouth. We both agreed that while it had been fun, and we'd probably stay in touch as friends, I wasn't the man to have an affair with.

I imagine a lot of online dates end like this - the person is nice enough, but there's no real spark. At least it was a nice evening, and hey, no wounds or infections. So, a win. 

But still, the search continues!

Date Zero: The worst date ever

Plenty of people have expressed that my first date, with the biter, represents some kind of world-nadir in dating. That at least it can't now get any worse. Sadly, I'm well aware that isn't true. Even if you leave aside the experiences of friends - a good mate's worst date involved " a guy who pretended to be a doctor. When rumbled, he pretended he was a secret agent posing as a doctor" - then I have, in fact, been on a worse date myself.

 It was a while back - when I was just starting out as a journalist. I was a student, and I was mostly reviewing gigs. I was also considerably more bohemian then than I am now. How bohemian? Well, here's a picture:

Yeah, jew-fro, and handlebar moustache running into victorian mutton chop sideburns. Ladies, I'm sure you'll agree, I was a catch.

 Anyway, I used to go to a great many gigs and festivals and things,and at one of these gigs, I bumped into a pretty lady. She was called Amy, and she was also very Bohemian. Piercings, ear tunnels, tattoos, dyed black hair with pink bangs. We met, we had a few drinks, had a laugh, and then, awkward 23 year old me decided I should ask her out to dinner. I probably *should* have just snogged her that night, because that's what she probably wanted, but I'll be honest, I'm not exactly the devil-may-care sexual chainsaw my exquisite moustache might otherwise suggest.

 Amy thought this was hilarious - so, a week later, we go out to dinner at a really nice restaurant in Bath; in fact, while we're at the restaurant she admits no-one had ever asked her out on a date before. We laughed at each other's jokes, enjoyed each other's company. I found out she was an artist. She found out writing was a sideline for me, and I was a law student, doing my bar exams. There was, it's fair to say, a spark. This was of course, a simpler time, when internet dating wasn't even really a thing. I suppose at this point you are thinking "Where's the horror, Willard? This all sounds quite nice".

 Well, the horror came after the date proper. As we walked out of the restaurant, she turned to me and said, "So... would you like to come back to my place?". I'm not going to deny it, I was very, very happy indeed that she made the offer, and thus casually shrugged and said "Yeah, ok". We walked back to her place - she has a room in a big old converted ten bedroom house. We get into the kitchen, on the ground floor. Totally normal - throw rugs on the sofa, movie posters on the walls. We chat for a few more minutes, then have a bit of a pash on the sofa before she says "Let's go upstairs to my room".

 This was when it started to get weird. She lived right at the very top of the stairs, about five floors up. Her room was in the attic. As I walk in, I notice two things - one, it is supernaturally clean, ordered and tidy, and two, everything is white. Everything. White walls. White floors. White desk. White chair. White lamp. White duvet. White bedhead. White wardrobes. Huge white 4'x4'x4' cube in the middle of the room. Aside from the whiteness, there are two items which are not white.

These are the huge 6 foot long stylised knife sticking out of the weird white cube, like some kind of kitchen-sink version of King Arthur, and the 5 or 6 metallic magnetic strips running over the white bed. They are the kind of magnetic strips really professional chefs use to keep their knives on. And they are covered in a vast array of big, shiny sharp knives.

 It was fair to say, I was pretty shocked by this - it instantly registered as totally weird - but here's the crucial part - I was also a 23 year old bloke who thought he might be about to have sex. Even if she had her mother's skeleton in a rocking chair, I probably would have made 100% sure she wasn't a serial killer before carrying on. So, I ask about all the er, sharp things. She replies, with a slightly crazy glint in her eye, "Oh these are artworks. I work mostly in the medium of knives." Oh! That totally explained it! IT WAS ART! I knew she was an artist, and thus the massive psycho blade collection was totally cool. I was so relieved I burbled about Marcel Duchamp for about a minute
before we started to kiss again.

 So, anyway, to cut a long story short, we're on her bed, in the midst of the physical act of love, and mid-way through she reaches over my head, and pulls down the biggest, sharpest knife I've ever seen. I scream in the manner of a cheerleader about to be murdered by a hook handed psychopath, cringe, and bellow "Don't KILL MEEEEE!".

 She looks at me, baffled and says, "Oh, this isn't for's for me. I'm getting close...and I'd really like you to hold a knife to my throat, I really like it." I look panicked - fair to say, the threat of stabbing death was quite a passion killer. She adds grumpily "Don't worry, you can use the blunt side", as though that was a huge concession. This was too much for me, and I just admit the knife has weirded me out, make my excuses & leave.

 Amy, it's fair to say, is not impressed. She talks to mutual friends, tells the story, and it falls to them
to tell her that yes, pulling a knife during sex IS weird. To which she replies, "well, no other bloke has ever complained", bringing to mind the idea that plenty of blokes she'd met in bars were just like "Knife? Ok luv, cool ". We're still friends. She's now a teacher, with a lovely husband, who I assume, loves a bit of knife-play.

 So, there you have it. The worst date I've ever been on. Tune back in on Monday for actual date 2; it was better than this one, but it was still odd...

Date one: Love Bites

I never really meant to start a dating blog. But, I went on my first online date, and it was a catastrophe. How bad can it be, I hear you ask? Well, it led to this Facebook chat with a friend:

She seemed pretty normal at first. Pretty, worked in publishing. Sadly a little dull in person. OR SO IT SEEMED. 

We were in a Vietnamese restaurant and I'm terrible with chopsticks, so she was touching me a lot, helping out. Quite nice, quite pleasant. Anyway, dessert arrives, I am struggling with some piece of sugary slime, she reaches over, takes my hand... Takes the chopsticks out of my hand, starts sucking my fingers. WEIRD. But I didn't stop her. I should have. 

She then bit my fingers, really hard! I screamed at the top of my voice (default setting: loud) "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING?!", causing a scene in the restaurant. She tells me she thought I'd like it - then bursts into tears. I wrap my bleeding hand in a makeshift bandage I fashioned from a napkin, walk to the bar & say "I'd like to pay & leave, please". 

They then can't get signal on card machine, so paying takes ten minutes. While she sat sobbing in the background. It was excruciating. I probably could have handled it better; I do feel guilty about it, but she literally bit my fingers until she drew blood. I honestly thought she might bite them off. 

 It was only a week later, visiting my doctor suffering from headaches and nausea, my doctor (a lovely old posh scottish lady) asked "Hmm, have you been bitten by any animals, Willard?", and it turned out the bite wound was infected(medic friends tell me this is pretty common, as the normal human mouth is a nasty place). I actually felt quite sorry for the girl in question. I've even found the article in a glossy mag that recommends a woman “Press a fork into different parts of his body at dinner—his butt cheeks, his pecs, his thighs. If you really like him, bite him in the restaurant”.

While this was clearly one of the worse dates ever, it wasn't the worst I've ever been on, or ever heard of. 

 It was only after this experience - and hearing other friend's bad online dating experiences - that I decided to do a dating blog. My favourite friend's dating experience was a girl who told me she went on an internet date with a guy who was genuinely dreadful - a real "ahem, you had three rolls, I had none, so a I think a 35/65 split is more equitable on the bill" type. Date is over in about an hour, she heads home, thinking, what a douche. He texts her, saying "I realise the date went badly, but was wondering if you were still interested in sex. I have a massive penis. Jim. XX". And attached, is a picture of said massive penis. In fairness to him (she's shown it to me), it was huge - like two beer cans welded together.

So, this online dating business is clearly a wasteland populated by freaks, huge cocked mutants and blood crazed biting cannibals. As one of the few (relatively) normal survivors out there, it seemed like a good idea to chronicle my wander through the wasteland - leave behind a survival guide. For example, I've since discovered that the website I met the biter on (OK Cupid) is notorious for being full of what one online dating veteran described to be as a "Legion of Polyamorous Kinksters", so it was probably a bad choice for me.

Of course, looking around, I wondered how could I make the dating blog different from every other dating blog out there. I mean, how could I guarantee every date would be bad enough to blog amusingly? Then I hit upon an idea; why not try to do a multitude of different dating sites? 

So, here's the plan - 28 dates. 28 different dating sites. A mix of the most common sites, and some of the crazy ones. So. Let's see how this goes.

And with that, Willard stepped back out into the wasteland.