‘You’d look good in a tight shirt,’ was his opening line. Gosh, move over Byron! | #tinder | #pof | romancescams | #scams

I deleted every single dating app last week then reinstalled each and every one of them two days later. I had some kind of dopamine crash: I mean, who knew swiping through thousands of men could be so addictive? That’s dating life; that’s showbiz, darlings.

Scared to miss out on a life-changing opportunity, because surely if you spend every night checking Hinge, Inner Circle, Bumble, Tinder, Raya… anything could happen, right? Actually, I didn’t bother reinstalling Raya, an exclusive, invitation-only dating app for “influential” people.

I may be verified on Instagram, meaning I have a blue tick, but no one likes me on Raya. Almost all the women on Raya look like models, their photographs are gorgeous in a soft-porn way; think young, hot women wearing micro bikinis, playing volleyball or straddled over a pool table at an after-party in Beverly Hills. No. I am fully clothed and over 40. I have no chance on Raya.

“You’d look good in a tight shirt,” was the opening line first read on my newly reinstated dating apps. Gosh, how romantic. Move over, Byron. “Well, you wouldn’t,” I was tempted to reply, but instead decided to ignore the message as keeping one’s dignity on dating apps is all one has left in this modern age of courtship.

Over the past few months there have been some absolute corkers. Incredible messages, such as, “Hi, can you send a pic of your tits?” Hmm, let me think about that for a minute. Then there was, “Hello, Stacey, how are you?” – I hadn’t managed to read the message due to the fact I was either working, looking after my kids or having a life somewhere not on an app, so it took me a while to reply.

Approximately four hours later, “Hello?” Then an hour later, “Stacey you are an absolute time-waster.” Gosh! Apparently, I’m supposed to wait, phone in hand, for this guy to message. Sincere apologies for not replying to you within the first five seconds, or in other words, thank God for my lucky escape. I have to say, I quite liked, “You’ve pulled. Pack your toothbrush and bikini. I’ll see you at terminal 5.” I didn’t jump on the Paddington Express, you’ll be relieved to hear. I’d quite like to remain alive for a few more years.

I did, however, arrange to meet someone last week, until it came to where to meet and he said: “Let’s meet at yours, I’ll throw you over my shoulder and we can head straight to bed.” Direct? Understatement of the year. I declined. All hope not lost, I was then contacted by a man who worked in the City but had “trained” in tantra. By tantra I mean tantric sex. Paging Sting. We met over Zoom with a glass of wine, because I now refuse to venture on a date with anyone I haven’t spoken to/seen over video.

He answered the phone wearing no top and a pair of cotton trousers, the type you might buy at a hippy flea market in Thailand for £3. Baggy at the crotch, the trousers were deeply disturbing, but not half as troubling as the yoga stretches he performed as he asked, super casually, as if enquiring after my music tastes, “Which sexual positions do you enjoy?”.

Oooh, I dunno, I quite like the position where I close my laptop and have a lie down with a cold cloth draped across my forehead – how about you?I left him in the downward dog. One short tantric sex course taken in Brazil transforms white middle-aged man from Clapham into Eros. All that aside, I can’t date a man who wears over-sized yoga pants at 6pm. It’s out of the question.

One evening, after a busy day at work during which I’d pretty much ignored my phone unless the call was from my kids’ school, I counted the number of messages received that day and was disturbed to find one common theme, which went along the lines of: “Shame not to hear back from you today, you’re clearly too busy.” I counted eight such passive-aggressive messages and deleted them all immediately. Maddening and weird, but not as weird as what happened to my friend, Emily, recently. Brace yourselves, you may need to take a seat…

Three weeks ago, Emily was contacted by a very handsome 54-year-old silver fox. When I say handsome, we’re talking dead handsome; we’re talking full head of lush salt-and-pepper hair, pale blue eyes, expensive nut-brown tan, crisp shirts clearly tailored for him. Sebastien lived in the countryside near Paris and video-called my friend every day for two weeks straight.

It’s possible to get to know someone quite well during daily video calls, so when he announced he was coming to London on business, she jumped at the opportunity to see him. Dinner was arranged, and off she went to Mayfair to enjoy the company of a grown-up man mature enough to book a restaurant (you’d be surprised at how many dates have asked me to book the restaurant).

To be clear, my friend is confident and has a senior role in business. She also happens to be incredibly beautiful and no pushover. At the end of dinner, given they felt they knew each other well, they went back to his house to sleep together. And they did. Twice. She left in the morning and awaited his call. Except he didn’t call, so she called him. No answer.

She called for three days straight until he finally replied with a clipped WhatsApp: “My father died, I’m back in Paris.” So filled with grief, Sebastien had legged it out of London back to Paris to organise his father’s funeral without so much as a goodbye text to Emily.

“Have you googled his father, to check he’s actually dead?” I asked, full bullshit detector in overdrive, my hair practically standing on end from all the bad juju. My friend stared at me, shocked. “What? Why would I do such a thing? No one could ever be capable of such a massive lie.”

Then we googled him, and there was Sebastian, arms around his very much alive father, at a high-profile event in Paris. A cad, an impulsive liar, possibly with a personally disorder, I’ll wager, but clearly I’m not a psychiatrist.

Truth is, when it comes to arranging to see people met online, no matter how young or old, you really have to have your wits about you. Like an elderly friend of my mother’s who met a man via a dating site. Within a few weeks, he asked her to make a transfer of £10,000 to his bank account. Thankfully the bank refused to make the transfer. Clever bank.

As for my friend’s next date, I’m going with her. Maybe the topless man in baggy yoga pants isn’t so scary after all…

Read last week’s column: I’ve been introduced to some amazing women – and I plan to date them all

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