Online dating beyond the crotch shots

Last updated 05:00 15/10/2014

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I've never had a problem with talking to strangers.

When I was studying and living in central Wellington, some of the most interesting conversations I ever had took place at bus stops, queues for coffee, turbulent airplanes and even within hospital waiting rooms.

When I was younger it sometimes led to me ask someone if they wanted to get coffee sometime, or vice versa, and I met great and not so great people dating that way.

Once I moved back to Christchurch I found it more difficult to meet people, and as I was an already seasoned geek, I naturally gravitated to online dating.

At first it was fun, judging people based on such a tiny bit of information about them, but soon it just felt a bit depressing.

FindSomeone was often full of men and women much older than me, looking for a serious relationship right off the bat. I was more interested in meeting new people and potentially dating them, if we happened to hit it off.

I've noticed that in relation to other countries, we often leave very little time to get to know people before we prematurely jump in the sack with them, and/or label them our significant other. As a woman, dating was often seen as being 'skanky', even though I was very open about it and never led someone on if I felt like it wasn't working out.

I went on quite a few dates, and figured out that a good way to determine whether there was any chemistry between us was to call them up and have a chat.

Gut instincts work incredibly well on this type of dating platform. Personally, if I had always listened to them, I wouldn't have ended up in some of the incredibly dangerous situations that I only narrowly escaped.

If Facebook had been around back then, I probably would have cyber-stalked them a little too, just to feel them out a bit before meeting in public.

I once met a guy who at first seemed really nice, but as soon as I met him I knew I just wasn't attracted to him. I let him know pretty quickly that whilst he seemed like a great guy, I just wasn't feeling it.

He decided to take that as a challenge and proceeded to attempt to 'sell himself up'. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a date with someone who won't shut up about themselves, even after you've tried to say you're not interested in them. Apart perhaps from realising he's following you out the door.

I said goodbye and then he stalked me (while texting me) for a bit, gave up and I walked back to my car, looking backwards every two seconds. Sadly, that's not nearly the dodgiest situation I managed to find myself in, but it's the only one I'm willing to publicly share.

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I'd like to note that there will be no victim-shaming or sexist rants here (towards or against either sex). However, it should be understood that not everyone will be who they say they are. Once a guy turned up to meet me - his profile photo was of a completely different person!.

Whether you identify as straight, bi, gay, trans, male, female, or another label, please make sure you meet people in a public place and make a rule to stay there for the first date. It is NOT your fault if something happens to you and you decide to act otherwise, I just know that not everyone will be as lucky as I was to get away safely.

On a more positive note, I met my partner five years ago online.

Bizarrely enough we found each other, wading through the many, many unicorn proposals (a twosome wanting you to complete their threesome), sociopaths (I dated a guy for three months who lived a double life, complete with new-born baby and live-in girlfriend) and general liars on NZDating.

I met someone I never would have dated in real life, someone who turned out to tick all the boxes I never knew I wanted, and un-tick so many of the silly ones I'd naively created for myself over the years.

Despite both the horror stories and generally lovely people, (who mutually just didn't 'click'), I met someone pretty great.

I quickly knew from the insanely cute profile picture of him and his two-year old daughter, long winded, bluntly honest self-description he'd written of himself at 2AM, and effortless five-hour phone call we had before we met.

So while I don't prescribe to 'The ONE' or 'Other Half' mentality, nor do I believe we will necessarily last until one of us is dead (credit Dan Savage), I love and feel lucky to have found and have him in my life.

I discovered my family online, and I will always be grateful for that.

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