I was in two minds whether to share what happened a couple of weeks ago. I posted it, and then took it down. I am now posting it back up again because 1) I have told a few people what happened already, including my mother, so feel more comfortable putting this up, and 2) two weeks later, it still has comedic value.
On Thursday, my throat was killing me, I had a cold and felt quite achey, so took two sick days off work. I would never have envisaged what happened in the next few hours.
N.B. Just to let you know before we start, I would only date a man who loves Jesus, is plugged into a local Bible-teaching church, whom I’m attracted to and is not more than 8 years older than me. That’s because dating amongst Christians is ultimately to see whether there is a possibility of you marrying that person – and as marriage is a very intimate relationship, the man would have to be someone who also loves Jesus and wants to serve Him too. Otherwise, it would be a very difficult relationship in all sorts of ways. Trust me, I have tried to be persuaded otherwise by various people, but I’m sticking to my guns, and think that these are non-negotiable standards for me. With that in mind, it’ll make sense of what will follow…
9th October 2015
It is 12.30 in the afternoon – I am in my room, tucked up in bed with my laptop (obviously), a mug of hot water with honey and a slice of lemon, and balsam tissues
I’m not sure why I’m doing this. But I seem to be typing in ‘Christian Connection’ into Google and entering my details. Probably out of curiosity. Despite most of my insides screaming ‘noooo!’ at the prospect of online dating, I still manage to make an account. Then cringe. I concede that it is probably because I am ill enough to be unpleasant to work with and it is painful to use my vocal chords, yet well enough to still use my brain.
13.00 – I am still in bed with the laptop whirring
I cringe in embarrassment as I see two emails, one saying ‘One more step to activate your account’, and inviting me to click on a link to confirm my account. I do – I mean, I click the button.
14.15 – a bit later…
I dragged myself out of bed to eat something (the last hunk of home made bread and a slightly dodgy piece of chocolate cake), and then drag myself back into bed to check my online dating account.
Only one person has checked me out(!?), and I feel a bit sad. I feel self-conscious of my profile – nonchalant one word answers and my compulsory profile picture with greasy hair scraped back, glasses on and eyes half closed. Heart racing, I change my answers so they are less obnoxious and exchange the recent photo with one which is more than two years old – rather different from what I look like now.
The inner struggle of it all finally gets to me, and I fall asleep.
16.15 – still in bed…
I wake from my nap, wonder why I am still in bed and not at work and my mother comes in to ask how I am feeling. I remember that I have now made myself an online dating account, and cannot bring myself to tell her. I feel like I have done something dreadful, even sinful. After she leaves, I open up my laptop and see if anyone else has looked at my account. A few more men have – their average age is around 31. I inwardly shudder and feel a bit strange. I then search for men nearest to my post code, seeing if I can spot any names which look familiar, and reminding myself that this site is like Linked-In – you can’t just click on people’s names without being seen by them.
I click on someone who looks nice, and discover he is intelligent and educated… and then I spot his photographs. He is an usher in one photograph, and then I recognise another usher in the picture. And then I realise where he probably goes to church. And that I probably met him when I was a teenager, and we were friends on Facebook for a couple of years (until I ‘unfriended’ him before university). And when he logs in, he will have seen that I have looked at his profile, and might recognise me too.
Now I feel slightly panicky and my embarrassment heightens. I try and forget about it and look at other profiles. There’s an option to wave at men, but I cannot bring myself to do that either. And I find it bizarre that there are eighteen year olds on there. Too young, I tell myself, they really are too young. But then I realise that I am also too young to be doing this. I try and forget about this situation, but it’s hard to shake it off.
My phone buzzes, and it’s from ‘ChConnection’, and it says I have a message from an Owen*. I log back into my laptop and read it:
‘Hello, trust u are doing well!!! I am Owen*, gentle, easy going and devoted lover of God. I like your profile, your commitment to God and would like to meet and know u better.’
I check out his profile: he only seems to be interested in wrestling (hmm..), he is 35 (12 years older than me), he has a poor grasp of the English language (‘I am a gentle, easy going and lovely person who love Jesus Christ and is being amazing thing for me loving Him[sic]’) and he does not smile in any of his photographs.
Nope, not replying to him. Feel a bit weird again, and go downstairs to make myself some more hot water with lemon and honey.
My phone buzzes again, saying that I have had another message from ‘ChConnection’, from a Matthew*. Again, I log back into my laptop to read it:
‘Hi so what’s going on in your world? I have just been chilling and working. I am not perfect I have not always had a great smile like this haha.’
Huh? What is that supposed to mean – you have not always had a great smile like this?? Surely that is not something to say if you want to make a good first impression. Oh dear.
Trying to see past this blunder, I skim his profile. He is 29, smiley in his photographs and seems happy. But then he states he hasn’t been to church for months, and does not desire to return any time soon, he has a massive and horrific tattoo on one of his arms, and he generally looks a bit gormless.
Decide not to reply to him either, and head downstairs to have supper with the parents.
Having finished watching Friday night TV with the parents (and leaving my phone in my bedroom), I head upstairs for bed. I see that I have yet another text from ChConnection, saying I have a message from Sam*. With an equal helping of curiosity and dread, I check my account again.
Sam* is 30, into Blackadder, laughing and History (as am I). However, like Matthew*, he has also not been to church for months, and wants someone who will help him feel close to God again. (Alarm bells are figuratively pounding in my head). Equally, his photographs are not very flattering, and unfortunately, he is the nerdiest man I have ever seen. And I have got to know quite a few nerdy men in the last few years. But not as nerdy as him.
My assumptions about online dating have been justified. Just ten hours into my free trial, I have felt judged, have harshly judged others without even meeting them and realised I would prefer to deal with awkward meetings with men IRL, rather than this.
I receive an email confirming that my account has been closed, and I am elated.
Christian Online Dating – The Verdict:
Ever since I heard about it, I had a gut feeling that it wasn’t wonderful. It takes away some of the mystery around romance and makes match making seem like an auction. From actually experiencing it, it makes me want to be single and not feel burdened by this need to put a heightened spiritual version of myself on the internet for strangers to drool/spew over. Yes, God can use online dating to bring marriage about and perhaps I should have given it more of a chance. But if I did meet a wonderful godly man through it, I still do not think I would be comfortable admitting to my family and friends that I met him on the internet. Probably because of the stigma surrounding it, and because I lack the maturity to not feel embarrassed by it. In ten years time, if I am still single and want to be married, I will probably give it another go, in earnest and not in a jokey manner. In the mean time, I am scarred for life. You have been warned!
Would love to know your thoughts in the comments below!
*Names have been changed