Dating in Devon

My parents celebrated their 30th Wedding Anniversary last week. Thirty whole years married to the same person. Some may say that they have been lucky enough to find ‘the one’. Not only that, but I also went to my second wedding of the year this weekend. I appeared to be the only person there not to have found ‘the one’.

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This got me to thinking.

There are 8 Planets,

196 Countries,

7 Billion and counting people,

and I’m single.

Not only am I single; I am single and living in Devon.

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It is around this time of year that I really start to notice it.

You can’t seem to go anywhere without a glance at a smitten couple holding hands walking past you on the beach, a sweet old couple gazing into each others eyes over an ice-cream or a ‘so young they have only just got out of nappies’ couple hardly having time to come up for air whilst showing one another their affections on a park bench.

Of course, there are always many different ways to try to understand how this can be the case.

It is easy to blame my illness; I mean who would want to date someone who can walk into Derriford and have Nurses and Doctors alike mutter “Of COURSE we remember you…”, who takes more tablets than a raving druggie and who still relies on her parents to get from A to B.

Then I came across online dating.

A phenomenonphoto.PNG that appears to have taken over. Not just taken over in terms of dating. Taken over in terms of hours of people’s time scrolling through profiles and spent swiping left.

Let’s start at the beginning. First you have to set up a ‘profile’.

They all start the same. Name, Age, Gender, Intent, Height, Profession, but they tend to leave out some important components; the qualities that people really need to know. Those ‘invisible’ characteristics.

Here are mine.

Medical History: Anti NMDA-r Encephalitis, diagnosed in June 2011, hospitalised until December 2011, ITU 14 weeks, 3 months rehabilitation, relapse June 2013 and now in recovery(ish).

Treatments/procedures: Plasma exchange, IVIG, lumbar puncture, Hickman line, tracheotomy, MRI, CT Scans, EEGs and oodles of prodding and poking.

Medication: Steroids, immuno-suppressants, anti-depressants, melatonin, vitamins and drugs to make the side effects of the other drugs bearable.

Affects of the illness: Fatigue, memory loss, lack of inhibition, word finding difficulties, steroid fatness (‘moon face’) and acne, along with all the other side effects from all the drugs, scars, lack of empathy for others, reduced self-confidence, depression, seizures, insomnia, flashbacks, constant hospital appointments and complications in physical, mental and emotional health.

I’m not sure how many “DevonBoy would like to meet you” messages this profile would generate.

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And then you come onto the ‘interests’ section.

When your habits include spending most of your time either at hospital appointments or at home, with a strict bedtime of 9pm (at the latest) – due to post Encephalitis fatigue – there is not oodles to write here.

Of course, like every other person in the online dating world “I Love travelling, socialising, fitness and travelling, oh and did I mention travelling”.

The problem is, I haven’t really been travelling, whilst I would love to set off on an around the world venture it has not really be plausible as of late. Therefore, it leaves my interests section looking quite sparse, once again, not generating a great deal of traffic to my online dating profile page.

Nevertheless, as there are 8 Planets, 196 Countries and over 7 Billion people, I must be able to join my parents soon and somehow find ‘the one’.

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Online dating has, however, progresses.

Progresses to actual contact. Being chatted up over the Internet is oh so very different to being chatted up in a bar. Or anywhere in the real world, come to think of it.

For starters, you can ‘favourite’ someone. Imagine going on a night out and giving each hot person a star sticker. Unimaginable.

Secondly, on one dating app it is possible to swipe left or right to determine whether you like someone’s appearance. As Beyoncé would say…”To the left, to the left.”

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Then there is the actual messaging. If I had a shoe for every time I got a message saying “What brings someone like you to this site?” I would be the envy of every woman on the planet. Isn’t the answer obvious? Because I’m single. Same reason as you. To find my prince (well princess in your case), settle down and have lots of babies.

And then finally you get to the date.

The first, first date I went on I was so nervous my Heart Rate soared to an impressive 120bpm. This was before I had even gone on the date…I had so many questions buzzing around up there. My head felt like it was about to explode.

How do you explain why you haven’t worked for 3 years? Why you can’t drive? What that scar on your neck is? Why you need to get home to take your meds? Why you struggle to find words? Why you have a fat face, with terrible acne and hair that is falling out?

Why you are still single?

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Do you tell them everything or nothing, you can’t tell them something but not everything surely?

Sometimes I want to almost burst into my own Encephalitis song, explaining all about what I have been through and how it has impacted my life.

Then I take a step back.

On a first date is it really wise to scare them off that quickly??

And what happens when they ask you “What do you do?” – the question all us Encephalitis sufferers are dreading…

My NMDA sister came up with the perfect reply: “I’m transitioning from the corporate world into private practice” (private practice being managing myself).

Or, you could go on a date where they constantly talk about their bike, and cycling, and their bike, and how they cycle everywhere and their bike. At least on this date I didn’t have to worry about answering awkward questions.

This, however, did not work out. Can’t think why. I do, however now know much more about bikes. And cycling.

Perhaps it is time to admit defeat when it comes to online dating.

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Speed dating appears to be the best way forward. My Godfather has recently met someone through this dating method. Five years on from becoming a widow he has been able to find love again. Perhaps there is hope.

At least in 2 minutes I can’t be expected to answer too many questions!

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