Share via Email Manchester must be full of normal, single men in their 30s wanting to date — so where are they all? This week's particular message-induced despair was from someone speculating on whether I did in fact have a penis.
Men of the internet dating world, please note: I had better tell you how I got here — a bit of context is always handy to blast away any initial stereotypes that I may be a sad, lonely, Mancunian spinster with eight cats that I talk to in baby voices. This time last year I emerged from an year relationship as a single mum in Manchester at the grand age of After the common reaction of a contained meltdown, wondering if I'd be alone forever and then having a stern word with myself to get a grip and get back out there, my mind turned to the fact that I was very much single.
Single, in my early 30s, and with absolutely no idea of how to be a single woman. Flirting, dating, flings … all of this was something I hadn't done for an extremely long time and I had no idea where to start or what to do. Practising making flirty eyes at the window cleaner when he came to collect his money once a week was out of the question. Just because he was the only man that called round didn't mean the poor soul should be victim to my paranoia that I was very much out of practice, and therefore subject to comedy eyelash batting.
No, I needed to get out there in the real world, with real single men, practicing real flirting with the added side effect of maybe having a nice time with some new people. Therefore with a scientific combination of the power of averages and copious amounts of alcohol, it really wasn't that hard to dance around someone at the Music Box RIP , give them the eye, pretend you could hear what they were saying, then … BAM!
Well at least that's how I remember it. Now however, they are all paired off, settled down, off the shelf and there is the added minefield of multi-platform stalkfests such as Facebook and internet dating sites to navigate.
In the beginning I turned to the only resource I had when it came to something dating advice: Sex and the City. Remembering Sarah Jessica Parker's success skipping around New York wearing something painfully fashionable such as bra made of dead mice, and still getting dates with cool, sophisticated, eligible bachelors, I figured I needed to be where they hung out. So, I signed up to Deansgate's Whitewall Gallery mailing list and decided to hang out at the art previews.
Yes, that's where they will be, art previews, just like on SATC. Now there were two fundamental flaws to this plan. Firstly, I am as far from Sarah Jessica Parker as you can get. Rather than writing this from a loft apartment in NYC, swathed in Chanel with my inner monologue booming out "where ARE all the single men in Manchester? On turning up to my first art preview, I scanned the room and noticed that it wasn't full of single, eligible bachelors.
There was no-one I could sidle up to and practice flirting with. It was mainly full of older couples, stroking their chins and looking for something to hang above the couch. So I drank the free champagne, had a quick look round, then ran away. I needed to rethink my strategy; a few of my friends had tried Internet dating and loved it. So, figuring I had nothing to lose but a subscription fee, I signed up to Guardian Soulmates and Match. That was 12 months ago, and wow has it been an interesting ride.
The messages and dates have ranged from the lovely to the out-and-out bonkers. Little thumbnail pictures of, in the Guardian's case: X hanging out with friends, or X building an African village and then X skydiving for charity. X lifting up his top to show his abs and his ex-girlfriend's name tattooed on his chest. Among all the faces and messages, I started to communicate with a few blokes that seemed nice so started to meet up for the odd date.
But a pattern emerged. All the guys I got on with and fancied didn't come from Manchester. Derby, Sheffield, Kent, Liverpool — all great dates, all who I would see again. Manchester, on the other hand, seemed to be a hotbed of dating disaster. There was the guy who left his bobble hat on for the entirety of the meal. Don't get me wrong, I'm partial to a man in a beanie, wielding a skateboard this according to my mother is a "problem" at the age of 32 but this wasn't a trip down to Nandos to hold hands over a piri piri pita then make out behind the bins like teens.
It was a grown-up date, and thus I kind of expected that when we sat down to eat, we would remove our outdoor attire. I'm sure he would have felt the same if I sat there eating my dinner wearing a deerstalker. I started to get distracted; my outer voice answered questions and tried to make polite conversation while my inner voice was crying out: We didn't meet up again.
Not long after there was the guy that got increasingly more drunk as the evening went on. On losing his ability to string together a sentence, I called time on the evening and insisted on dropping him at his door in a taxi as it was on my way home. As he got out of the taxi, to my horror, he thought it appropriate to grab my head and snog it.
Whether I was involved in this snog or not seemed unimportant to him, I froze in horror as he covered my face in slobber. Then he gracefully stepped back, fell out of the cab into a large puddle and wobbled off into the darkness. More recently there was the guy who was 14 years older.
A serial dater, he made no apology for the fact he just likes to chase women about, and internet dating is an efficient means to meet this objective. I like his honesty; I don't like his double denim. It will never go anywhere, apart from the odd visit to the Liars Club to get drunk on rum to make up for the gulf of common ground that we don't have apart from fancying each other's face. I have met some nice blokes on dates in Manchester, three of which I've become friends with and hang out with from time to time still.
So far, internet dating has been great for making friends, but sparks have only flown with people who live over the Pennines or up the M So here I am, back in my Stockport terrace, bashing my face against my keyboard still without biscuits with my inner monologue wailing out: But I also don't have a penis, want to be slobbered on in the back of a cab against my will or date someone with a mildly alarming attachment to his bobble hat.
Is that too much to ask?