Suddenly single: My name is Paul and I’m addicted to online dating

By Paul Lester, August 6, 2009

It’s as accepted a rite of passage for the Jewish male as the barmitzvah and supporting Spurs, and as inevitable a part of life for the average divorcee as — to paraphrase Woody Allen — death or taxes. I’m talking about JDate, the online “Jewish singles network” which, after months of trying to resist, I have finally joined.

I tried to resist it because, basically, I saw it as a sign of weakness, even failure, on my part. What kind of red-blooded, north London Jewish man has to resort to a website to meet women? The kind you see in the photograph on this column.

Not that I’ve been entirely unsuccessful over the past year in my bids to pull via more traditional routes such as interacting with real live human beings in proper social spaces as opposed to the cyber variety, to which regular readers of Suddenly Single will attest.

It’s just that, if you want to hook up with a Jewish lady, trying to do so in London is a bit hit and miss, unless you’re au fait with kosher-female, target-rich environments, or you have a bizarre inclination to socialise with delinquent Hebrews outside Edgware Station, or wherever it is Jewish teenagers hang out these days.

I was tentative at first, because I didn’t know what to expect and, frankly, I was embarrassed at having to resort to a dating organisation, so I only paid for the basic service, or “standard plan”. The “premium plan” came with extras such as a “member spotlight” and a “highlighted profile”. Yeah, right. I really needed to pay more (five quid, noch) to draw attention to my details with a nice neon-orange box, to telegraph my uselessness with the opposite sex to all and sundry, including close friends and family, not to mention Richard W from school who always insisted I was gay (not that there’s anything wrong with being gay, of course).

Membership sorted, I then had to write about myself as pithily as possible for my profile, and make it so intriguing that gaggles of gorgeous girls would be gagging to get in touch. I went for something wry, off-hand and self-deprecating, a classic double-bluff technique designed to communicate that I was only really doing this for research purposes or as some kind of postmodern ironic joke. You know, just in case.

Then I had to put up a photo of myself. Now, a lot of people apparently use ancient ones, from a time when they were still vaguely attractive, which in the JDate community is regarded as a cardinal sin, the equivalent, to use a butcher analogy (and you should always use a butcher analogy in this context), of putting weeks-old meat on display and selling it as fresh.

Not me. No, I used the same picture that you see here. Why? In the vain hope that women would recognise me from the Jewish Chronicle and therefore realise that, rather than some miserable, lonely nebbish with an attitude problem, I was actually a professional (well, “ish”) journalist, one who has their byline next to their articles in a proper well-known newspaper and everything, and therefore a highly valued, not to mention sexually alluring, member of society.

This all happened three weeks ago. Since then, well, my name is Paul Lester and I’m addicted to JDate. I’m reluctant to say I’ve been on it 24/7 — reluctant because I hate that phrase almost as much as I can’t stand pseudo-suave Yankspeak like “learning curve” and “blue-sky thinking”. But I have been using JDate a lot, to the extent that my kids have been, like, totally, step away from the computer NOW, dad.

Be warned, though — being on JDate can be brutal, and you may experience a virtual version of the sort of crushing rejection you have to face in a club or pub, when you fire off an email to a young lovely or instant-message someone you’re drawn to, only to have them decline your offer to engage them in conversation with an equally-instant “no thanks”.

And all of this based on a one-inch-square representation of the real you. I keep telling them, you should see me at six inches, let alone full size, but they won’t have it.

Still, I can’t leave it alone. What a great way to make new friends, even if they are a bit saucy, like the Borehamwood woman who made our online discussion more, um, intimate via the wonders of webcam, or the St Albans girl who promised to “blow my mind” when we meet. No wonder they call it “JBonk”. It’s a virtual den of iniquity.

Of course, some of the emails and profiles are pure fiction. For example, I just got “hot-listed” by this 24-year-old honey from Seattle dressed like a cheerleader, who’s into “love games” designed to “wake my inner beauty”, but it was so obviously Richard W trying to wind me up that I didn’t bother to reply.

Last updated: 10:35am, August 6 2009