My date with Laura seemed to be going well – we were both relaxed and having a fantastic time. But something was missing already at that point – and I knew that she felt that way as well.
The rest of the day passed in much the same fashion. We tried a few more Oxford pubs and continued to talk about everything from our experiences at Glastonbury festival to each other’s favourite Stephen King book. There is little doubt that we had the friendship vibe – we got along like a house on fire – but the romantic edge was just non-existent.
Whenever I have described Laura to any of my friends since, they have told me that she sounds like a perfect match for me, yet it just wasn’t to be. Following the date, we texted each other, agreed that we both really liked each other and that we had a wonderful time in each other’s company, yet neither of us really felt that the day was to be the start of a majestic adventure.
The greatest flaw in online dating was clear to me: dating websites, such as match.com, try to artificially manufacture something that is natural, and that can’t be created from nothing – the romantic spark.
Every single time I have had that special connection with a woman in the past, it hasn’t been because I was trying to make it happen; it just happened. I found that the online dating experience tried to force this ‘spontaneous’ magic too much. I got on exceptionally well with both Laura and Sally (the two women I had face-to-face dates with through match), but it just felt like something was amiss on both those occasions.
I’m not saying that it is impossible to meet someone that you feel a romantic connection with through online dating. Yet I went into it expecting it to remove the awkward obstacle of not knowing if you and a possible partner were interested in one another. That this obstacle has been removed made online dating even more awkward, because the elephant in the room is that you are both angling for a relationship with each other from the first instant. You feel under constant pressure to make that relationship happen and to make it work.
There is no sense of spontaneity in online dating and it is in those spontaneous moments that the happiest relationships are made.
I don’t rule out ever doing online dating again – it was great fun and I met some excellent people. I just feel like at this point in time, I would rather venture out into the real world and see if that spark with someone happens naturally, rather than pay £20 a month to try and force it.[Ed – Liam’s next romantic adventure will take place on Tinder. He may or may not be aware of this yet.]