Before that social tsunami called internet dating, there was conventional dating. No carefully crafted profiles to research or much practiced selfies to catch your eye. Just chance encounters followed by an awkward invitation followed by a date.
Pre-internet, I thought I had already endured my worst date. Having been whisked off to the Glenfield pub in a geriatric Daihatsu Charade on karaoke night it was looking fairly grim from the outset.
I was serenaded with a rousing rendition of You ain't seen nothing yet complete with all the "na na na na" bits. My date made it very clear to everyone that this performance was just for me, with much pointing and gesturing in my direction amid the sniggering crowd.
I later discovered that dating online has much the same potential for train wreck encounters, perhaps even more so due to the sheer volume of willing partners the internet offers up.
Despite best efforts to weed out the scarier candidates through carefully perusing profiles followed by some meaningful messaging, it's not until the first date that you really know what you're dealing with.
This is where expectation and reality meet head on with varying degrees of carnage.
Dating online, when taken seriously, can be likened to an endurance sport. It requires dedication, focus and commitment to the end goal. Notwithstanding that this goal may be anything from a life partner to a free drink it may be wise to avoid certain "types" that lurk about the net, hiding behind witty one liners and passable photos.
On offer are all manner of unsavoury experiences, mortifying moments, and blissful disregard for social protocols, all readily available thanks to that beckoning behemoth that has taken over all our lives: the internet.
Here are my top 10 crimes against dating, all of which began online...
1. Perfect Hair Guy
Think Lego figure with clip on hair. A symmetrical masterpiece that defied both logic and high winds.
Perfect hair is not in itself a crime and a few dates later I was invited to his house for dinner. That's where the real crime was. Doilies. Lacy, fussy little creations whose natural habitat is your nana's place. They were everywhere, infesting every surface, lovingly placed under every item. The perfect hair now made perfect sense.
2. The Bad Kisser
Let's not be coy about this. Most of us are going in for a snog after the first date. If your date's a dodgy kisser it's best to know sooner than later. Life's certainly too short to settle for someone who pecks like a chicken or ties knots in your tonsils. My worst kiss can be likened to having a large, dripping wet sponge inserted in my mouth which then flapped around like a dying fish.
3. (Very) Recently Bereaved
A common interest in old cars drew me to this man who actually looked just as nice as his profile picture and was thoroughly pleasant in person. He mentioned his wife had sadly passed away late January. It was early February. I politely sought clarification that he meant January of last year. He didn't. I resisted the urge to ask him if the hearse had dropped him off on the way back from the funeral.
Call me old fashioned but "let's hit the pit babe" are not words I want to hear on a first date. I especially don't want to hear them from a very large and very naked man calling out from my bedroom, having arranged himself seductively on my bed.
"Get out" were the next words spoken, and a lesson learnt to keep first dates offsite.
5. The Dodgy Dresser
Is it ever a good idea to wear board shorts and dress shoes? I'll admit to being superficial enough not to need an answer to that, and chose not to stick around to uncover this guy's inner beauty.
Another date turned up in paint splattered clothes and made unprompted and defiant comments about people "taking him how he is" and how he doesn't give a toss (he actually said something a bit stronger than toss). I decided to leave him and his awesome wardrobe choices for someone with more depth and understanding than I.
6. The Ageing Virgin
Lives with mum, over 40 and carefully guards his virtue by choice apparently. He has strong views on why he has kept himself nice and apparently does so despite the legions of women hell bent on his deflowerment.
One look at his profile picture and repeated references to mum will quickly reveal that his virtue is in fact very safe. Saving yourself for marriage is one thing but mummy issues is quite another.
7. Captain Crazy
There are all kinds of crazy and not all of them are bad. A twenty something friend of mine told me his story about the aftermath of a Tinder date and swears it's true.
The evening must have been somewhat successful as the story goes that his date awoke at his house at which point she hijacked his computer and changed his Facebook status to "in a relationship". She then made several gushing posts about herself on his behalf and wrote messages of love all over his sleeping form with a vivid. I suspect there may have been a clue in the pre-date messaging that crazy is in the house.
8. Mr Pottymouth
I'm told there is such a thing as a "nervous swearer". I'm not sure this excuses my date as his delivery was supremely confident and eye wateringly articulate. It was also very loud, and spread offence to all four corners of the restaurant where we met. Even the most forbidden of four letter words was flung about with reckless abandon, visibly connecting with fellow diners like a slap in the face. Presumably his profile had been sanitised prior to publication.
9. The Crim
I'm always impressed by those brave enough to take a risk on a business venture and smart enough to make it work. Seeing "self-employed" or "business owner" in a profile is a definite plus for me.
My date proudly outlined his business throughout the evening which centered on supplying certain substances to certain organised groups. Although this is certainly up there with risk taking, it's not something I can get on board with.
10. The Spitter
There's something quite mesmerising about flying spittle. This fascination quickly ends however, when it is aimed directly at you, tracking a course over your glass of wine or plate of food. Nobody wants their tapas, or indeed their date, to come with a side of spit.
Before you righteously add your own stories to these, check your own behaviour. Are you guilty of crimes against dating? Always be yourself, but be the very best version of yourself with generous helpings of good manners and decent presentation. Have a little consideration for the person you presumably hope to impress and leave them in a state of eager anticipation of your next meeting. Perhaps the words "you ain't seen nothing yet" are quite apt, just without the mortifying karaoke experience.