Chris Douce shares some tips for anyone looking for love online.
One thing I’ve learnt as a person who stammers, and who has done a fair amount of internet dating (probably around 30 dates), is that it’s probably a good idea to disclose your stammer on your dating profile.
Don’t put it at the top, since that would look a bit weird (although for me it used to be my number one defining characteristic). Instead, put it at the end, as ‘one of those other things’ that can be used to describe you. I wrote something like, “One other thing about me is that I have a stammer”. I added that it gave me drive and determination, and encouraged people to get in contact, saying that I was “very happy to chat about it”. Saying this has two benefits: it marks you out as being honest. Stammering also makes you interesting, and when it comes to internet dating, interest is everything.
Stammering also makes you interesting, and when it comes to internet dating, interest is everything.
Arriving at this decision was quite straightforward; I once thought about mentioning it during a date, but that didn’t feel right. I once disclosed it during the text chat leading up to a date, but was immediately ghosted (when the person stops replying and disappears). From that point, I thought it best to put all my stammering cards on the table. There’s another good reason to do this (and you might accuse me of being hard-nosed): disclosing filters out people who aren’t really worth speaking to in the first place.
Another big dating tip is this: don’t be (or appear to be) desperate. Those who are worthy will, eventually, find their way to you providing you put yourself out there; dating is very much a numbers game - the more you do it, the more chance you have and the better at it you become.
I’ve used a fair number of dating sites and some are better than others. I’ve even finished a whole level on Tinder, but was never sure whether I was playing it right.
For some reason I seemed to get quite a few dates with medics. There was a chest consultant, a paediatrician and a GP, who ‘accidentally’ left her purse at home, meaning I had little choice but to buy her a Sunday roast, otherwise both of us would be washing up (I didn’t see her again).
Interestingly, one site seemed to have a disproportionately high amount of speech and language therapists (SLTs) on it. Out of curiosity, I messaged many of them. My history with SLTs hasn’t been great (my therapist as a teenager blamed me for my lack of progress). I received one reply which went along the lines of, “I’m sure that you’re lovely, but I’ve read your profile and don’t think I could date you”. Ouch! From then on I decided to give SLTs a miss (but I’m sure many of them are very lovely).
Having a stammer does have some advantages. People who don’t stammer can easily talk so much that they can come across as total nutcases. One date readily revealed that she thoroughly disliked all of her immediate family. This, to me, was a red flag. If she says bad stuff about her nearest and dearest, what was she likely to say about me? We made it to date three before I decided to call it a day, after she spent the evening complaining that I had issues with ‘projection’ (despite the fact that I never had a chance to say very much on any of our dates).
Some dates were weird, lovely and memorable. One of those was at Kensal Rise cemetery, with a woman who identified as a goth (I can’t remember whether she disclosed this on her profile or not; it wouldn’t matter, since I had a short goth period myself at college). One positive outcome was that I learnt quite a lot about cemeteries, since this was the topic of her MA dissertation.
I also had a couple of Tinder dates when visiting a friend in Australia. I kept in touch with her for a while but the distance was always going to be a barrier.
I really enjoyed my time internet dating, but I’m not doing it anymore. I guess you could say I’m still dating - but only with my girlfriend. I met her the old-fashioned way: through a friend and through shared interests. She’s funny and kind, and she says she forgets that I have a stammer.
I was given one bit of advice that I found really helpful, and that was: become the person who you want to date. I internalised this phrase. For me, it came to mean: find things you find interesting and do things you like doing. Self-help gurus say things like, “the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself”. They’re probably right.