IF you haven’t tried it, when you think of online dating you might think of random hook ups, threesomes, desperate losers and crazy cat ladies.

I had never tried online dating before (straight or gay), so I had no idea what to expect. Full disclosure: I’m a bisexual woman and had previously only been in relationships with men and I thought the easiest path into the lesbian dating world might be online.

The thing that stood out the most was that so much of your interest in someone came down to your first interaction with them. A good profile is a great start: you can see that someone cute is interested in you, but what does it really say about them? What if they say “your” instead of “you’re”? How am I supposed to know if I’m interested, too? And that leads me to the real question — what impression are you giving with your opening line?

My standard opening was smooth, winning and — okay, no. My opening line was usually: “Hi, how was your week?” Pathetic, right? But I guess I was trying to give the impression that I’m normal. Considering some of the openers I’ve seen, I think it was the right choice.

After throwing myself into the deep end and signing up for 10 different sites in the first two weeks, I eventually settled on three regulars and upgraded my membership on one. The response was overwhelming. I felt like I was waving kittens and ovaries in front of everyone. I became instantly popular. And it went straight to my head. Having a pocket-sized ego-booster — sorry, I mean a mobile phone, can turn you into an addict in no time. Part of the rush of online dating is seeing the new message icon. And the more you’re online, the more people message you, boosting your ego all the more. It’s a relentless cycle. I logged in a dozen times a day. I sent my friends constant updates on my ranking within the site. In short, I became an insufferable narcissist. And my god, I loved it. I’d send out “hi, how was your week?” en masse and sit back and watch the replies roll in.

To receive a message from someone is amazing. But to receive one from someone who strongly reminds you of your grandmother is not so great. When your grandmother-lookalike calls you “sweet” and “dear” in one sentence and tells you how she wants to seduce you in the next… let me know how long it takes you to get out of the shower, because I was there for an hour and a half before I felt clean again.

Of course, it’s just as easy to creep someone out regardless of how much they look like their grandmother. Take the 19-year-old whose opening line was “nice breasts”. Surely people can come up with something a little more original than that? Like the woman who told me I had “eyes that tell me we would make love and make rockets explode in the sky”. Or my personal favourite, “you have cute eyeballs”.

Unless it was truly offensive, I would usually respond to any message regardless of the author’s articulacy. You never know who you’ll connect with, right? Although frankly, I’ve been told I “look yummy” more times than I’d care to remember. And while I can now laugh at the woman whose opener was to tell me she could make me “cum over the phone”, at the time it was incredibly off-putting.

Even when you’ve been chatting with someone for a while, they can still throw you for a loop. One self-described clairvoyant did a reading on me and described me as an “abandoned building with a candle burning inside in one of the rooms”. Resisting the urge to shout “your face is an abandoned building”, I calmly disagreed and resolved not to talk to her again. Mature? Yes. But satisfying? No.

Another woman I was innocently (well, somewhat innocently) chatting with said “I sent you an email” and continued chatting as normal. She had sent me a graphic nude photo. I understand that some people like to show off their assets, but this was her entire portfolio. I think I threw up a little in my mouth. Thank heavens it was only a thumbnail. Not without warning please, ladies. Give me a chance to say no.

The thing was, she seemed so normal. I suppose that’s why online dating has the stigma it does. You can never really be sure about someone until you meet them in person.

Looking back, while I met people that could fit into each of those categories — I also made some genuine friends along the way.

I was also lucky; I had an instant connection with the first woman I met. Someone whose opening line was “hey, how are you doing?” She’s now my girlfriend. With an opener like that, how could it not have worked out? My straight friends have had little success with online dating. Perhaps I could lend them some of the myriad terrible opening liners I’ve seen. But I suppose “nice breasts” isn’t really going to work for a straight woman.’

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**This story was first published in the June edition of the Star Observer, which is available to read in digital flip-book format. To obtain a physical copy, click here to find out where you can grab one in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas.

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