In 2005, back when the internet was still fairly new and smartphones were but a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye, Lucy was 26, single, and terrible with men.
Guys she fancied never seemed to fancy her back, and the guys that fancied her were all rubbish. In her whole adult life she’d only ever had one boyfriend, and that ended badly when he decided he was in love with his best mate (who was female, thankfully, but that doesn’t make it much better).
So a friend suggested she try online dating.
Back then, online dating was still mostly the preserve of geeks and weirdos. But Lucy’s friend was doing it, and she wasn’t all that weird, so Lucy decided to give it a go.
Over the course of the next few years she met dozens of men, including:
– The guy with the incredible blue eyes but who was a bit odd and got very drunk on the date. When he asked if they could meet again Lucy said no. So then he asked if he could come back to her place for sex anyway.
– The famous TV presenter’s son who had only headshots on his profile. When he turned up on the date, he had the biggest gut Lucy had ever seen close up. She spent an hour squished up against it in a crowded bar before fleeing.
– The guy who gesticulated so widely when speaking that he sent a passing waitress and her tray of drinks flying across the room.
– The chef who decided to take Lucy on a date to a photography exhibition outside London. Lucy was rather unnerved to find herself getting on a train with a total stranger with no clue where she was going. (They ended up going out for 7 months, so it was ok in the end).
– The bloke who turned out to be a friend of a friend. He hadn’t told his mates that he was doing online dating, and Lucy inadvertently ‘outed’ him.
Eventually, at the age of 30, she met The Ex on Match.com. He bowled her over on the first date and by date four they were a couple. The relationship lasted five years before The Ex decided he fancied a girl from work rather more, and within two weeks he, and all his stuff, were gone.
Lucy found herself thrown back out into a very different world. Most of her friends were now married with babies. She herself was no longer a catch, but (whisper it) over 35, and therefore pretty much undateable. And smartphones and dating apps had been invented, with swiping and ghosting and all sorts of confusing behaviours. The relatively calm dating pool had become shark-infested waters.
But Lucy’s never been one to shy away from a challenge. So she held her nose and jumped back in. Four years on and she’s still swimming, and there are still plenty of sharks circling, but she’s much better at dealing with it all now. She’s not drowning nearly quite so much, and sometimes she even kind of enjoys the exercise. Though she’s still hoping for a lifeguard (or possibly a merman) to come and rescue her. She just wishes he’d hurry the fuck up.