In just over a month I’ll be celebrating 30 Dates’ 2 year anniversary. It’s certainly been an interesting journey – one which has not just changed, but essentially shaped, my life for the past two years. I’ve found a boyfriend, a whole new career, and countless new friends, all thanks to the adventure which the Henley Boy and my 30 blind date challenge set me off on.
Blogging about dating is an interesting pass-time.
I realised early on that one of the unique things about 30 Dates was that I was willing to put my face, and later my name to it. Something dating bloggers rarely do. The reason I was happy to own the blog was because I have always been very careful with what I write. If you google dating blogs, there are countless bitter, man-hating blogs on the internet. Blogs which often only last a few months, until their authors find someone, or get out of the funk that made them write the blog in the first place.
I was also always happy to put my name to the blog, because all my friends knew about it from the start. The first wave of blog readers were my friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends, all thanks to Facebook.
The thing about writing a blog, and attaching your face and name to it, is that it gives you a sanity check. You don’t have the full anonymity of a computer screen, and so you think before you type. You self-censor.
And self-censorship is important when you’re writing about dating – because dating isn’t just about you. When you date, you spend time one-on-one with a complete stranger. You have intimate conversations. You might end up in intimate situations. There’s a very careful tightrope to tread, writing about your dates, being entertaining, sharing some of the details of the date, but without airing someone else’s dirty laundry. Without bad-mouthing other people on the internet. Without betraying the trust you give someone else when you go on a date with them, and share random stories with them.
What helped, when I wrote about my 30 blind dates, was that I knew the guys were reading the posts. They knew I’d give them nicknames, and some were so happy to take part that they let me share their photos on the blog. Yes, this certainly added an odd element to the dates. Some guys were only going on the dates because they wanted to appear in the blog. Others were avid readers and knew lots about me before we even met. Guys knew I was writing about the dates, and so chose to do things, or not do things, because I would be writing about it.
But despite those odd elements, this blog has been widely well received, by both men and women. Because rather than write all the details of the dates, I’d write about what we did, and the lessons I learned. Most of the lessons I learned were about myself and dating. Yes, I learned things about all the guys I went on dates with … but those weren’t the things for me to share on my blog.
A few months ago, on Valentine’s Day, I attended a Loveflutter event. It was the ‘Anti Selfie’ party, where singles wore paper bags on their head. During the course of the evening, the guys behind the Loveflutter event introduced me to a girl who was writing a blog in collaboration with the app. I remember two things about the brief chat I had with her. First off, she said my 30 Dates challenge had inspired her ‘50 Dates of Grey‘ challenge. I also remember her being rather socially awkward … to the point where in the brief minutes I chatted to her, I remember thinking that I didn’t envy her 50 dates. One of the reasons I found 30 Dates easy to do, was that I enjoy chatting to people and meeting new people … and yet this new blogger seemed really uncomfortable having even a couple of minutes conversation.
I didn’t think anything more about the blog until last week, when I saw an article in the Mirror about a dating blog, and recognised its author.
I’ll let you have a read and make your own assumptions about the blog. What I will say, as a seasoned dating blogger, I’m quite protective of my craft. There are lots of us who are really passionate about dating and writing about dating. And so it’s quite frustrating to see a blog getting national coverage which really isn’t in the true ‘spirit’ of a dating blog. Today the blog also appeared in a list of ‘Must Read’ dating blogs, together with veteran dating blogs 30 Something London and All Sweetness and Life, which I truly feel have earned their stripes in the world of dating blogs.
If you read the article by the Mirror, there are several odd bits – including the blogger explaining that in an act of frustration against one guy who stood her up, she added a load of his friends on Facebook …. She also describes one guy’s annoyance to discover her dating blog, and threats to sue her. Having checked out the blog, I can actually see why. The articles about that guy include lots of personal details, details from the bedroom, and intimate details of their conversations on their dates.
We dating bloggers have unspoken rules. And as far as I’m concerned, acting like a nutter, stalking peoples’ friends (and admitting it), and writing personal stuff about your dates online all break the code of the dating blogger. So it’s really sad to see that kind of dating blog being written about in the press, because it gives us all a bad name in a way.
I also think, when you realise the whole thing was set up by Loveflutter, about Tinder, that it’s a rather low ploy by the dating app. I have a lot of time for Loveflutter, and I loved the idea of paper bag speed dating, that they ran at Science Museum Lates last year … but I think orchestrating a challenge where you get a blogger to write about her experiences on a rival app is rather underhand. Even the author of 50 Dates of Grey explains in her introduction “I had my concerns, was this just a cheap stunt to blacken Tinder’s name from an upstart competitor?” … but then her negative approach to Tinder and her dates doesn’t make me feel like it’s anything other than that. From the start, it’s clear the blogger isn’t your typical Tinder user, and arguably she’s using Tinder a long time after its hay day. Tinder was a very different creature when it gained its popularity than the beast its become today!
It’s certainly a brave move by Loveflutter to put their name (and reputation) to what seems like a rather crazy, disturbing, and unorthodox view of dating in London.
Yes, there’s always space for new dating blogs. But hopefully this new dating blog doesn’t put people off dating in London or put people off reading other dating blogs. Or scare people off going out with dating bloggers!