There’s been a revolution in sexual practices that passed me by (have you seen Tinder? I’m a dinosaur – a missionary man in a reverse-cowgirl world. Inane openers do break the ice, but stop you from reaching anything deeper. I crave male company so go home and watch Expendables II. I discover that coffee dates can work when you’re not in the office headspace. I tell her I was running late and had to elbow a granny out of the way to get off the train. The scatter-gun concept works: by the time I meet my fourth woman, the jitters that can ruin a more conventional date are gone.
I meet a former colleague, C, who I’ve been lusting after for years. It’s a pretty good pie, too, but she doesn’t go over.
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Are we now so dependent on apps and online dating, and just how do you navigate the app-happy dating pool of today? I used to, and I think at times I might even have enjoyed it. S from Tinder is smiley and chatty with faultless social skills. Wine with M from Lovestruck – the first date I’ve really enjoyed, and the first woman I found attractive just by looking at her photo.
One staffer was set a challenge to get as many online dates as he could, to play the numbers game and come out the other side. But after one romantic disaster too many, I reviewed my dating history and concluded there was something wrong either with a) every girl I’d ever dated or b) me. R from Lovestruck is Japanese – lovely, totally incomprehensible. When she was a baby she was kissed by Marshal Tito. She’s Italian, sort of like a sexless Sophia Loren. The algorithms that sites such as Lovestruck use to match people seem somewhat redundant post-Tinder, where appearance is everything. After a couple of false starts, I unwittingly use a blinding opener to attract C: “Nice bracelet.” This half-arsed hello is, remarkably, golden.
The best way to boost those odds is to join a dating website. But with more than 1,400 dating sites in the UK alone, choosing one is almost as hard as choosing the right person.
The study was commissioned by dating site e Harmony, so you might say it had a vested interest, but you don't need maths professors to tell you online dating works. To make it even harder, most dating sites hide their subscription prices until you've waded through a long sign-up process. We created temporary profiles on more than a dozen dating sites and tested their features, user experience and value for money.
If it works, I’ll be cruising through meet-ups on a kind of irresistible autopilot. My four o’clock, J from Lovestruck, is an attractive career woman in her forties. Arranging dates in a small geographical area is vital if you’re stacking, but timing is a minefield. I dribble out the same chat and by the fourth date, I just want to go home.
But there’s a lot of catching up to do, as I discover when I sign up for a dozen sites, apps and singles nights. A couple of hours beforehand I have a pep talk with dating expert Hayley Quinn, who warns me that coffee dates often seem like job interviews. Not a single one of my marathon dates contacts me for a second meet-up. I head to a Mayfair nightclub for speed dating (originaldating.com), counting each four-minute contact as 0.25 of a date.(Related: a lunch date with the most exciting woman in food - Gizzi Erskine) I spend Sunday evening with F, a petite Spanish peasant from Lovestruck.She’s furious about the amount of tax she pays in the UK; I pick up the bill for her three large Merlots and head home alone.There are pros and cons to narrowing down your search from the get-go.Niche dating sites tend to be cheaper than mainstream sites, for starters, but the biggest advantage of a specialist site is the feeling of being among friends.A Tinder girl cancels, as I’ve failed to “banter” on Whats App.