Overfishing the dating pool has cleared space for a new breed of pest, Louise Baxter discovers.

Returning from an Asia-Pacific cruise, my mother proudly announced I was now betrothed to her friendly Chinese waiter.

“I showed him your photo, and he said you were beautiful! He has your email.”
She wasn’t joking.

Ever since I turned thirty, she has been assessing all the angles on her future-son dial.

“Have you heard of a website called Elite Singles? I heard about it on the radio.
You’re elite!”

I chalked it up to maternal madness, until one day I woke to find she might be right – I’d missed the boat.

The vessel in question was Noah’s Ark, which had swept through town as I slept and picked up all my friends. I watched them wave from the deck, two-by-two, as they headed off into the sunset. The thrashing began amongst the stranded, as we scrambled to pair up just in case the ark chucked a u-ey and let us aboard.

Colour me quaint, but I always figured romance would happen naturally – our eyes would meet over a milkshake and we’d live happily ever after with 16 kids and a market garden. Instead, I was left treading water in a sea that clearly didn’t have ‘plenty more fish’.

So I did what any self-disrespecting girl would do – I launched myself onto society like a 19th century debutante. This apparently sent a signal to every oddball in town, like a Mr Whippy van doing bog laps to the soundtrack from Fatal Attraction.

Let me introduce Cyprus Guy. We met at a music festival, and he seemed friendly and fun. Numbers were exchanged, along with plans to catch up for a drink. The next night, I got out of the shower to find messages and missed calls from him. When he rang a third time, I answered.

“What are you doing in May?” he asked.

“Uhh, I don’t know. It’s February.”

“Well, I’m going to a wedding in Cyprus and I wondered if you’d like to come with me? That should give you plenty of time to save. Then we could swing by the UK on the way home and meet my family.”

I hung up convinced that the ‘wedding’ was ours and ‘Cyprus’ was his basement.
Then there was the otherwise sweet, attractive engineer, who misinterpreted ‘love is blind’, saying he liked my “pretty eyes” so much he wanted to “gouge them out and keep them”…

Another night I got to observe ‘negging’ in action. This ‘seduction’ technique, favoured by pick-up artists and professional douchebags the world over, aims to undermine the confidence of a woman so she will seek their validation. One brazen 19-year-old approached my friend and I, determined to give it a whirl.

“Excuse me, hi,” he said, sweetly. “Just letting you know the small-tit line is over there.”

Before we could get in a little neg of our own, the grovelling began.

“I’m sorry, so sorry. You guys are actually really gorgeous.”

Assuming he was put up to it, we let it slide.

“Thanks,” he said to me. “By the way, the pants you’re wearing are just a little too tight.”

Dating is a game – in fact, it’s a bloodsport. Just like any game, there are rules. And just like any sport, I don’t know them. I’ve never been a stellar athlete, so I feared this would end like my first-and-last foray into high-school basketball – when my ‘goal’ was met with facepalms instead of rapturous applause, because I’d thrown it into the wrong net. But after a shaky start and a few half-time pep talks, I got back out on the field.

Next up was Tinder. This handy little app is like the Cerebro device from X-Men – it locates all the mutants around you.

One guy had a memorable opener. “I’m pretty sure I saw you out on
Saturday night!”

“Oh really, whereabouts?” I replied, hoisting myself onto the hook.

“There was a beautiful woman convention in Subiaco, and I was working security.”


“Yeah, there was some crazy homeless woman hanging around and she punched
my friend in the face. I’m 95 per cent sure it was you.”


Online dating apps are famed for their sleaze factor, so obscene messages are a dime a dozen. What I wasn’t prepared for was the neediness. Who knew so many Perth residents spoke Cling-on?

“Do you always ignore guys on here, or am I just special?”

“Why haven’t you messaged me back?

Did you die?”

“Let’s meet in person before the conversation dries up.”

“Don’t worry about replying, I accidently swiped right. You’re rank.”

Maybe my friends are right; perhaps I’m too picky. I should probably grab hold of the next buoy I see. And who knows? Maybe the ship hasn’t sailed after all – it could just be circling the Asia-Pacific.  

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