However, this doesn’t mean that online dating isn’t as exciting as an old fashioned romance. The second you sign up, you’re starting to write your own love story, and I promise that your search for The One will involve a little drama, some adversity, and many moments of confusion and misunderstanding. That said, it’s probably preferable to think of your own pursuit of love as a romantic comedy, for the sake of your sanity. The range of relatable role models in literature is diverse. My own romantic heroine is Linda Radlett from The Pursuit Of Love, because she could make all her lovers laugh – I just have to remember that I’m not looking for a sexy French duke who will end up getting killed in WWII. A good friend confided that when she’s on a first date, she’s always trying to channel Scarlett O’Hara, queen of the corset “even though I spend my life doing battle with uncomfortable bras and wondering whether I can stealthily unhook them and pull them out through my sleeves.”
Clicking through disappointing profiles can be made more fun if you imagine that you’re sat in a Louis XIV chair instead of your own sofa, while thinking “Nah, definitely would not get up if they asked me for a gavotte. But when you see someone you like the look of, your heart will stop, your breath will catch in your throat and you’ll wonder what it’s like to kiss them. It’s exactly the same sensation you experience when you catch sight of someone across a crowded room and suddenly fancy them like mad.
When the messaging starts, you’ll be just as anxious for the next communique as Marianne Dashwood waiting for a word from Willoughby. And when you’re behind a screen, you’re entirely free to construct your identity as you wish. You might feel a bit silly saying your most romantic lines out loud to a stranger, but our phones and computers give us the chance to compose ourselves and deliver our best work without stuttering or stammering. You can conceal as much as you can reveal. It’s like you’re peering out flirtatiously from the folds of a feathered fan. That might sound a bit excessive, but it’s certainly a magical and mysterious metaphor for typing frantically on a battered MacBook while trying not to spill tea on your pyjamas.
The best bit about online dating is that if your story isn’t working, the plot flags or you’re not convinced by your love interest, you can rip it up and start again. Every romantic writer has to work their way through several drafts before they manage to create the stories we read and adore. You might find that your main event is simply a subplot in your quest for love, or that having gone riding with your tall, dark, handsome character, he just looks too silly on a horse to be taken seriously. Being on a dating site means that you’re immersed in a ready pool of plots, and every time you hunt for a new hero, you’ve learned so much from previous experiences that you have a much better idea of the qualities you require, and of the happy ending you’re hoping for.
Ultimately I think online dating is the only way to keep the spirit of romance alive when you’re looking for love. Our heroines had to wait to be asked to dance, but it’s 2015 and we’ve been given the power to make our own moves. It would be crazy not to use it. Although the internet would probably have ruined Pride and Prejudice – as we established, Darcy would not have done well, but with her quick wit, warmth and clear thinking, Lizzie Bennett would have cleaned up.
‘Meeting Your Match‘ by Daisy Buchanan is available to order online today.
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