‘And search for people based on a few basic parameters.’ If you really had a grasp of this stuff, meeting people involved a rendezvous in a wine bar with an identifying item of clothing or a red rose in a lapel.
There was no way that Match and e Harmony, the frumpy juggernauts of internet dating, could satisfy the myriad tribes of humanity. JDate brought together Jewish singles, with profiles often written by their mothers. Farmers, dog lovers, herpes sufferers, fitness freaks – you name it, there was a dating site dedicated to it. But let’s be honest, for Generation X it was a case of needs must.‘It was still very niche,’ says Rebecca Oatley, whose company, Cherish, worked on marketing some of those early sites in the UK.‘Most people either had no idea what internet dating was, or they thought it was for geeks and losers who were light on social skills.’ The matchmaking machinery was pretty unsophisticated at this stage. How many amorous stirrings have wilted on the vine at the sight of the wrong Wegner or sub-standard task lighting?
If you were American, you asked each other a series of searching job-interview-style questions, including salary and frequency of gym visits, and then, conditions being satisfactory, delivered efficient oral sex. These quaint, analogue traditions that the greyer-haired Gen Xers can dimly remember are the habits of a century past. “You can moan at it all you want, but the moment you say to a guy ‘you have to f***ing pay for my time’ you’re saying this relationship isn’t equal.” He went on: “If I went on a date with someone who never offered to pay, I wouldn’t be dating them.