15 Feb 2016
A guest post by author Sophie Childs
At the time, I was working in the IT help desk department of a trading company. Although my role was essential to the smooth running of the business, there wasn't enough to occupy me full time, so I found myself twiddling my thumbs and looking for ways to entertain myself while waiting for the next cry for help.
One of my colleagues was on a now defunct internet dating site called Love@Lycos, and some of his adventures were hilarious, so I decided to open up an account to take my mind off things.
I didn't even have a photo on my profile to begin with, but it wasn't long before I was being inundated with messages from guys. Some were clearly blanket messages sent out to everyone they could find, but others were well thought out, talked about what we had in common and I found myself making friends quickly with quite a few of them.
My attitude always was that if there was someone as cool as me on the site(!), there'd be my male equivalent and I was pleasantly surprised by just how many men I met who I enjoyed chatting to. That's not to say that there wasn't also a fair share of... well... interesting personalities is probably the best way of describing them.
There was the guy who messaged me, terribly excited because he lived in Stevenage and I lived in Welwyn Garden City, so clearly we were a match made in Heaven! It didn't matter that we didn't have any interests in common and I didn't find him physically attractive. He was just up the road in the next town! Perfect!
I remember writing to him and politely explaining that he wasn't the man for me and his response was hilarious, telling me that he was probably living closer to me than anyone else on the site, so why didn't I just give it a go? When I finally managed to persuade him that location wasn't my number one criteria when looking for a boyfriend, he was very disappointed that we “wouldn't be able to do all sorts of romantic things and stuff.”
I hope that he found a lovely Stevenage lady and lived happily ever after without either of them having to move.
Then there were the fake women, men posing as lesbians to try and get you to talk dirty to them. A friend of mine did this and was really excited about how many gay women he got to talk to. His excitement wore off when I pointed out that the chances were very high that they were also men...
For all the peculiar people I met, there were also a lot of decent guys and I met up with too many to count. Although I only ended up dating one of them, I made a surprising number of friends and then befriended their friends. Love@Lycos might not have done much for my love life, but it certainly worked wonders for my social life! In fact, just this weekend, I went to visit one of these friends of friends. We're still close, fifteen years later.
So did I find love online? Believe it or not, I did. Not with the one guy I dated. We saw each other for a couple of months before he decided that he wasn't ready for a relationship. Although I was sad that things didn't work out, he opened my eyes to the fact that I was ready to fall in love.
At the time, I was also on a number of Yahoo! discussion groups and often talked to some of the other members outside of the groups. There was one man in particular who I loved chatting to. He was a strong personality with strong opinions and I found myself looking forward to opening up my email and seeing a message from him.
Of course, I couldn't possibly actually date him. In my head, he was a lot older than me, blonde (I prefer brunettes) and larger than life, so when I realised that he was subtly sounding me out to see if I might be interested in him, I was flattered, but I knew that I couldn't possibly feel that way.
The discussion group arranged monthly meet ups, so after a few weeks, the chance came up to meet Mr Blonde in person and I couldn't wait.
Imagine my surprise when a vision in leather walked through the door. Tall, dark haired and bearded, he was exactly my type and we hit it off immediately. It was obvious to everyone who was there that night that something special was happening and fourteen years later, we've been married for thirteen years and have five children together.
My path to online love might not have followed a traditional route, but I got there in the end and I really did find my happy ever after.
'We Just Clicked' on Amazon.
'Behind the Scenes' available now from So Vain Books or on Kindle