The Faceless Critics

As most of you know, this blog all started from a random idea one morning at work, and an off the cuff Facebook status asking for date recommendations.

Three weeks later, and the challenge has properly taken shape, with a more definite set of rules laid down, six of my thirty dates completed, and heaps more in the diary, including two trips abroad.  The @30Dates Twitter feed now has over 200 followers, and this blog has had over 11,000 views in just two and a half weeks.

For me, one of the most rewarding parts of this challenge has been reading peoples’ responses to the blog.  As a writer, it’s great to hear that my words are touching other people in some way- whether that’s by simply becoming a part of their daily routine, or by amusing or inspiring them.

But as word spreads, and the blog readership expands wider and wider, beyond my friends, and even friends of friends, I can’t expect every piece of feedback to be positive.

This Challenge began on Facebook, and the site still acts as the most popular gateway to the blog.  As a result, very few readers leave comments on WordPress, and most have been posting on my wall or the shared links on friends’ walls, or by private messaging me on both Facebook and Twitter.

A number of these messages have put a smile on my face, so I thought I’d share a few with you (mostly from people I haven’t heard from in years), and then share my first negative ones –

The Nice Ones!

Hey stranger! I know that you’re probably receiving loads of messages at the moment but I thought I’d take the opportunity to say hi and let you know that I’m following your challenge daily. I look forward to the latest blog each morning (the perfect read with my mid morning tea!). I now wander around Henley eyeing up everyone to see if he’s Henley Boy! Can’t wait for the next instalment  

I am loving your challenge and have shared it. Its made it all the way out to Afghan and my NCT class.

I know we haven’t really been in touch, but I’m super impressed with your dating challenge!

Just a quickie to let you know I am one of many many who are engrossed by your blog! I’m not a blog reading person but you have managed to draw me in!  happy dating

I think this is amazing! Can’t wait for the film  x

Follow my friend (Miss29) as she goes on 30 blind dates before 30. Can’t recommend this blog enough. Funny and informative in equal measure, and a great idea to boot! (That one was posted by the One with the Sign on his Facebook!)

I’ve just been catching up on your blog, I love it!! I’m trying to think if I know anyone I could recommend for a blind date!!xx

Enjoy reading these, great idea!

This should be mandatory reading. Good luck you brave lady

LOVING your 30 dates idea – I will be following with interest!

I looked at your blog last night by chance on my phone – it is very funny – well done. I’m sorry you haven’t found Mr right yet but I am sue you will find someone in the chosen 30!! Good Luck.

I’m addicted to your blog and think its just amazing!! I saw your first Facebook status and hve been gripped ever since.

I just read your blog.  Not really a facebook user however got an e-mail this morning while on the ferry to Dunoon about a blog update from you, so I thought I would give it a read.  Absolutely hilarious and brutally honest.  It has been the most entertaining 15 minute Tuesday ferry trip in the last 4 years. Although the criteria for your ideal man is slim, I do think prince Harry is free…   Will be interesting to see who you do end up dating/end up with. He will probably be a wise talking, Bobs your uncle, diamond in the rough.  I will keep reading think it’s great.

If we had never met and I was in the area I would offer my services for your challenge. But I guess Fiji is a bit far and I am also sadly out of your age range. Great reading though.

As you’ve mentioned on your blog how random people have got back in touch with you I thought I would do the same! Loving this challenge, it makes me want to try it but you’re much braver than me!

I’ve been loving your blog. Amazing. I particularly loved your post about speed dating.

Just wanted to say that i’m loving reading your blog – quite a few of my single friends read it daily as do my parents who love it too!!

The Not-So Nice

(In response to Goldilocks & The Fairytale Couple)

Critic 1 – ‘I may be a bit superficial’ I think that is probably the understatement of the year. My advice would be for her to invest in a number of cats.

Critic 2 – I think it’s irritating and frustrating because it’s full of rather toxic ideas (not least The One).  The writer also completely fails to see the irony in saying of her parent’s “perfect” relationship, “I should probably point out just how unbelievably out of my Dad’s league my Mum was” while casually discounting outright the hundreds of men she clearly considers don’t meet her own standards.

(A lovely mutual friend jumped to my defence at this point)

Critic 2 – Bully for her.  Personally, I think her whole “settling for” argument is, at best, flawed and, at worst, a disrespectful, dismissive way of talking about one’s fellow human beings.

Of course she’s perfectly entitled to be as superficial as she likes when it comes to evaluating the worth of others – and even to take pride in her superficiality. It’s ironic, though, that she cites her own parents’ (eulogised) marriage as evidence for the soundness of that approach when, in fact, it could equally be framed as quite the opposite: if her mother had applied the same array of tick boxes, she’d never have “settled for” the writer’s father.

I would and have dated people on the basis that their attractive qualities might be slower-burn and reveal themselves over time and conversation, or in a different context. I’ve been a little less certain than the writer of my own ability to give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down from the outset and have erred on the side of openness. For me, that has paid dividends.

Critic 1 – (in response to my friend defending me!)

Your defence of your friend gives great credit to you, you also paint a totally different picture to her to how she comes across in the blog. It is a fascinating blog for its warts and all approach. However I personally cannot see from the blog why anyone would want to date her. She says she is picky and of 100 people she only likes maybe 1. She likes people to be highly educated and probably from public school because this appeals to her. However from the blog, and clearly you know her to be different, she seems to lack any sort of humour to her. I could not find anyone attractive if they don’t have a funny line to them. From the blog and not your comments she reminds me of girls I have known in the past who believe they have a sheet full of ticks and so therefore their man must have that- good job, attractive, educated – but they themselves lack any spark of personality.The girls I know like this are still single as say they won’t settle – but reality is no one is as attracted to them as they are themselves. Looks ultimately fade and sometimes you should be careful for what you wish for – you get a guy only interested in looks when you hit 40 there will be a lot of 20 year old girls looking better than you. It would be nice to see her get the sense of humour you talk about to come across in her blog. I know thousands of beautiful women but very very few who are beautiful people – that for me is a far greater quality.

Critic 1 – Well one thing you can say is the blog causes a reaction so it’s definitely doing something right

My Response – 

These negative comments come from a shared link on a friend’s Facebook page.  I don’t know her overly well, and have no idea who the two men character-assassinating me were!  One had also had issues earlier in the challenge when I mentioned that I can be a bit of an intellectual snob about dating. (For the record I have never said anything about only wanting to date Public School-educated me …. I went to a state grammar, so would be a bit hypocritical!) A mutual friend (who I think will deserve an entire blog post devoted to her by the end of this challenge, for various reasons!) stepped in to defend me (she knows me better than the girl who shared the link).

I won’t analyse what I think of the two men, from the snapshots of their lives I can see on the available parts of their Facebook profiles (because frankly it wouldn’t be very nice and I would feel like I was stooping to their level ….)  And in part, I will thank them to adding to the 11,000+ views the blog has received, as the number doesn’t register whether you enjoyed clicking on the post or not!!

However what I will say, is that luckily, as I am about to embark on my thirties, I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin and happy with the person I am.  One of the reasons I’m so candidly talking about my love life (if you can go so far as to describe thirty orchestrated first dates as a love life) is because I’m happy and comfortable in me, and not adverse to taking the mickey out of myself every now and again.

I am a sane, kind, approachable human being.  In fact, I would go so far as to say I’m quite likeable.  I’ve always been very sociable and friendly, and at school and work have never been particularly cliquey, and always tried to get on with everyone.  I would never bully someone else, or discriminate against anyone.  Nor would I ‘evaluate the worth of others’ or disrespect or dismiss other members of the human race!  In fact one of the worst things I ever heard, was a girl at university explaining that because she went to public school, was at Cambridge, and was planning on becoming a vet to rich people, ‘why should (she) every have to talk to commoners?’.  The conversation genuinely made me want to vomit!

Frankly I find those comments above a completely disproportionate response to me admitting to being picky about essentially who I want to sleep with!  Because that’s what monogamy is … choosing one mate over others.  And we might dress it up as a ‘relationship’ – but all that really means is cohabitation, and monogamy.

So how on Earth does me being confident in what I look for in a sexual partner become me critically evaluating the ‘worth of others’ and disrespecting and dismissing people?  Surely everyone does this every day, when they glance at someone and subconsciously process if that person is attractive to them or not?  There’s a big step from knowing what I find attractive, and ‘disrespecting’ other human beings!

I have made very clear on my blog that no matter how picky my expectations are of a boyfriend, I would never discriminate against people as friends.  I talk to everyone and anyone, and treat everyone as equals.  I have friends in all shapes and sizes, from all countries and backgrounds.  I travelled alone around the world for an entire year, and I don’t think a day went by when I didn’t speak to a stranger.  I like to think of myself as a friendly, approachable person.  If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have a Facebook account full of lovely people from all fields of my life, who are now happily recommending me dates around the world!

The thing I found interesting earlier when I first read these negative comments, was just how offended they seemed to be that I’m picky.

On the one hand, part of me just wanted to reply with a big fat – why is this any of your business?  But then, I’m the one who is writing about her love life in the public domain, so arguably I’ve made it their business.  However I find it interesting how much offence me admitting to being picky seems to have caused them.  I can only presume because they obviously don’t fit into whatever mould they believe my expectations to create?

Everyone has expectations and preferences.  It’s just a case than not everyone is as candid about it as I’ve been in my posts.  Relationships are built on common interests and shared experiences, so why is it such a big deal, that as someone who has spent over 20 years of her life in education, I might see this as a source of common ground with a potential suitor?  And likewise, when travel has featured so highly in my life so far, why I might think a man with a love of travel would be a good match for me?

Anyone who read my Speed Dating post will know how strongly I feel about bad manners when dating, and women who rudely point out that someone doesn’t live up to their expectations.  I would never do something like that, and even when I haven’t fancied my dates, I would never go into detail on the blog about why I wasn’t physically attracted to them, because I don’t think it’s fair.  I am grading the dates, not the people I’m dating!  As I’ve explained before, the only time I would ever be rude, either to the man I’m dating, or about him afterwards, are if he is rude or offensive towards me.

And actually, one of the main reasons I’ve been so open and honest about being picky, is because of this very challenge!  I am going on 30 blind dates.  I am actively letting other people choose men for me to go on dates with.  Dates, where I have made clear I will be engaging and polite and friendly, and make an effort.  Part of the reason for doing this challenge, is to challenge myself and my own preconceptions, and see if maybe, just maybe some of the ‘tick boxes’ I mentally refer to, aren’t all that necessary after all.

I’d like to think from the responses of the guys I’ve already dated on this challenge – including the One with The Sign’s recommendation on his own Facebook page, which I posted above, and from the Model Brother, who posted banter on WordPress on the review of my date with him, that I’m an entertaining enough date.

Whilst obviously one of my Critics above couldn’t understand why anyone would possibly want to date me, the way all my dates have ended so far would suggest I’m not that bad a date!

In fact, even before I noticed the negative criticism, I had decided to try to arrange a blind date with another blogger, so that I can be written about at the same time as doing the writing, and turn the tables a bit!  So if anyone knows of any interesting male dating blogs out there, please get in touch with me!  Unfortunately 28 Dates Later has just finished all 28 of his dates.

One of the other criticisms was my lack of a sense of humour … quite a bizarre one, if I’m honest, as all the feedback I’ve had from men who read the blog has focussed on how funny they find it.  Ah well, you can’t please everyone.  And as I politely replied to their string of conversation, ‘everyone is entitled to his own opinion.’

Interestingly, considering how detailed their criticisms when I wasn’t party to the conversation, as soon as a friend invited me into the discussion, and I had replied and acknowledged some of what they said, both men went completely quiet!

It’s evidently a lot easier to throw stones, when the person you’re throwing them at isn’t looking at you.

Finally, I’d like to point out, that whilst I joked yesterday that my Mum was out of my Dad’s league, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  And every time Mum told that story she would say ‘how could I forget the handsome English man!’  So no matter what me or my sister (or anyone else for that matter) thought about Mum and Dad’s comparative looks, my Mum fancied my Dad.  And only she knew why she fancied him.  So no, my Mum didn’t settle for my Dad.  He was her handsome English prince.

So, thank you for the criticisms, Critics 1 and 2, I will take them on board, and continue to search for my own personal prince, with my tick list of preferences firmly still in hand!  Maybe I’ll rip some up along the way (in the style of Girl 1 at the Speed Dating, but just with less malicious intent!), or maybe I’ll add to them.  Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot by thinking that after 15 years of dating, I actually know what I’m looking for.  Maybe I’ll end up on my own (though if that happens, I’ll buy a dog, not cats).

Who knows?  Who cares really? (other than me!)  It’s my decision, and my life.  And whilst I’m sharing those decisions with you, and the rest of the cyber world, I would respectfully ask that you don’t tar me as a nasty person, unless I actually say something unnecessarily nasty about someone else, rather than simply admitting to having some standards when it comes to my sex life!

And there I was thinking the worst thing, as a woman, that you can convey yourself is, is a slut! 😉 Turns out these guys think the complete opposite!

‘Goldilocks’ xxx

PS –  Please everyone feel free to comment (good or bad!) on any and all of the WordPress blog posts.  I have to approve the comments, but I promise to only censor them if they are rude or offensive!

6 Comments on The Faceless Critics

  1. hey. Well done for starting the blog, you are pretty brave and brilliant and anything that takes the so-called “stigma” of dating (seriously, get with the times, people!!) away is a good thing. And I really don’t think you’re being too fussy, as long as you’re willing to wait a long time, you’ll get what you want in the end.

    Please exercise caution, that is all. Wishing you all the luck in the world with your quest!

  2. You already commented that these guys are probably nowhere close to any of your check list points when it comes to dating. I almost want to bet there’s an additional layer of jealousy here – one that comes from men unhappy in their own lives and / or relationships; men stuck in a rut and seeing someone who took the opportunity to figure out what she wanted before she got it; men who jumped into serious long-term relationships (perhaps) too young and now are having second thoughts, wanting to see if the grass is greener on the other side. Either way, these men are reading your blog – so you’ve caught their attention; and they took the time to comment as well.

    Criticism like that can only serve to make a strong personality more determined to succeed. You don’t have to justify your actions to anyone, as long as you can look at yourself in the mirror when you get home. There are always those that will choose a negative route – and more often than not, it’s simply to feel better about themselves.

  3. Hey Goldilocks. I’m living your blog. I need to catch up on a few of the posts but looking forward to it.
    Like you said, it’s easy to throw stones when people are looking the other way and yes, to an extent you have put yourself on a platform in the town centre, but as a friend I know that you don’t deserve the stones. Funny, generous to a fault, thoughtful, inclusive and tonnes of gumption!
    I’m thinking of my half English half Nigerian friend living in Kazakhstan?! Would you be up for a flight out there if he’s not coming back soon? Successful and a genuinely nice guy, surprising as he’s a lawyer. Lemme check he’s still single before I go on!!!

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