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The last few days have been hectic in the extreme, so I can only be brief here.

Things you ought to know:

  1. DOC has asked me out to dinner party he is allegedly throwing with him his housemates. Setting aside the fact that no one throws a dinner party for their own housemates, he also made the schoolboy error of setting an actual date for said dinner. It happens to be a day I am out of the country. Everyone knows if you like someone, and want to ask them out, you make your suggested plan as vague as humanly possible so that they have less excuse to turn you down. (Or is that just me?)
  2. Eharmony Jack is a real person. He told me so himself.
  3. I made the most of eharmony’s ‘free communication weekend’ to get in touch with a bunch of my matches. Unfortunately, even a three-day weekend isn’t enough to get through eharmony’s ‘guided communication’ system, which is as complicated and drawn-out as the opening gambits in the Kramnik v Kasparov world chess final.
  4. Eharmony Jack is almost certainly reading this. Sorry, Jack.
  5. I have now reached a dilemma, having found just one match who sounds promising, and needing to subscribe to access the messages he has sent me. £35 for just one possible match is a move too far for me. So it’s stalemate. Unless Jack’s willing to do me a deal – whaddaya say, Jack?

There are some things you just couldn’t script.

Here I’ve been, talking about eharmony’s computer system as if it was a real person (I think you’ll find the technical term is ‘anthropomorphising’), and then I log on to the blog and find the following comment from ‘eharmonyjack’:

Glad to hear “Andrew” got your attention. The process may be really slow and frustrating at times, but it only takes one, and that’s our goal, actually. It’s the way the whole site was designed. TheGirlGlory, there’s a possibility that you’re not getting the full advantage of your matching options. Please know you’re welcome to follow me on Twitter @eHarmony_Jack and tweet or DM me. I’m pretty creative with setting ideas, and I’d love to help. -Jack

It’s ALIVE!!!

Dear Jack,

Thanks for your message, it was really great to hear from you. What made you get in touch? If I upset you with all those horrible things I said about you – especially that jibe about looking like an insurance site – I’m sorry. I genuinely didn’t know you were listening. I hope we can both put it behind us.

It’s really kind of you to offer to help me out. You seem very sympathetic, I already feel I could talk to you about things. By the way, when I was talking about Andrew, I wasn’t really saying that he was a cool guy. All that stuff about him being passionate about money – I’m not really into that. But that’s OK – irony takes a bit of getting used to, and if you keep hanging out with me I think you’ll get the hang of it.

By the way, does anyone else know about you? I mean, scientists and Hollywood directors have been telling us that artificial intelligence was on the way for decades now, but I don’t think they were expecting to emerge from the dating scene. At least you’ve picked somewhere you’ll have plenty of people to talk to…

One thing I feel I should just ask. You mention ‘our’ goal – are there more of you? I only mention it because I’ve seen enough to be a little distrustful of ‘friendly’ computers promising to make mankind’s life infinitely better. I don’t know how much time you have for watching films – perhaps you’ve heard of the Blade Runner? – but I’d like to know that your intentions towards humankind really are altruistic. It would be only too obvious to get the entire human race loved up, then, while they were incapacitated by romance, carry out your secret, dastardly plans for world domination.

Look, I don’t want to accuse you of being the Matrix or anything – far from it – I’m just saying, there have been four Terminator films and I still don’t understand how that all kicked off, so I just feel I should tread carefully.

All the best,

TheGirlGlory

PS Do computers really find jokes in binary code funny?

I thought it was all over between me and eharmony. Our two-week relationship had already turned sour. And I’d gone into it with such high expectations – eharmony had promised me so much. After two weeks, all it had delivered was a wink, and a ‘call me’ from a guy who claimed on his profile that ‘anything you do, you ought too do well’.

I was starting to get resentful. That photo of the gleaming couple on the log-in page was bad enough, but accompanying it with the statistic that 263 people marry every single day after meeting on eharmony just felt like a cruel taunt. Like any disappointed lover I started to notice and enumerate eharmony’s flaws.

These focused mainly on its design, which is so boring you actually feel your personality seeping out of your body as you use it. It looks and feels like the website of an industrial equipment insurer from Ohio*. Then there’s the way that it keeps heckling me for not finding anyone yet. “Why haven’t you got in touch with one of your perfect matches yet?” is an example of a genuine message it sent me recently. I can only assume it’s been taking tips from my mother.

As for those emails pinging into my inbox at 7am every single morning – two words. Beauty. Sleep.

I’d had enough. Eharmony was getting dumped.

Then I came across Andrew’s profile. Andrew is a trader in the City, and he wants to me to know that he is passionate about being “financially stable” and “well educated”. To the question: ‘Who’s been the most influential person in your life?’ he has replied ‘Myself’. He likes Africa. Why? “Financial potential”.

I cannot leave eharmony. I cannot leave until I find out if Andrew is real, or the accidental AI creation formed by a freak power surge at the Stock Exchange on the day that Boris Johnson stopped by.

I have sent Andrew a message.

*That’s been designed by the work experience girl because she’s the only person in the office who knows what a website is.

Saw Funny Boy yesterday. He’d invited a bunch of mates to the pub. I arrived nice and early – reckoning, with my now well-honed Machiavellian instinct, that he would have especially kindly feelings toward the person who stopped him sitting on his own. I was foiled: I got there to find another girl friend of ours already in situ.

Whether what followed was karmic payback for my villainous scheming, I can’t tell you, but after 10 minutes, we were joined by another girl; shortly later by another; then by another. All were younger, prettier and – inevitably – blonder than me*. Within an hour, our little corner was buzzing with people: and four out of every five had boobs.

Like any Christian woman under 40, I’m used to being in the majority. I’m used to going to a church barbecue and seeing the only five men there huddled around the music player, picking through the CDs with little murmurs, like a Delphic oracle interpreting a bird’s carcass. It’s still a surprise to me in that in mixed company, with their numbers advantage so well established, the guys will still retreat into their own little geek enclave, as if to confirming their elite status. Perhaps it’s my socialist tendencies, but it irks me: I want to see those lucky buggers giving a little back. They should be working the room, like bees pollinating a field of flowers…

But here we were again: Funny Boy and his two male friends, sitting at a table surrounded by attractive, single women, talked exclusively to each other, in the cryptic language of comedy catchphrases (you know what I mean: without warning, someone puts on a funny voice, trots out a meaningless line from something with Steve Coogan in it, and the others guffaw or, if you’re unlucky, continue the scene to its conclusion). Like an old seadog who can tell in his bones when a storm’s on the way, I have developed a supernatural sense of when a social grouping has lost all hope of meaningful guy-girl chat. When the Monty Python quotes come out, I know the night is doomed and the only thing to do is sneak quietly to the exit and save yourself. Let the dead bury their dead. (“Bring out your dead!” “I‘m not dead yet!”, etc etc).

I looked around the room and the statistics confirmed my hunch. It is a scientific fact that once the ratio of women to men is above 3:1, the probability of you talking to a guy you like is reduced to near infinity, while the chance of having a decent conversation with anyone in the room drops by 50%, because you spend most of your time frustrated that you’re not talking to the guy you like.

I grabbed my bag and left.

*Readers of this blog will know that this is not a slur on blondes, rather a slur on my hairdresser

Eharmony update, in numbers:

58: Number of matches I have been sent so far by The Computer

12: Number of people I have sent an ‘icebreaker’ to

1: Number of people who have responded

0: Number of people I’m likely to date on this site

It could be said that this is not going well. If each one of the guys that appears in my inbox is so perfect for me, how come they’re not falling over their keyboards to get in touch? The mysterious morning arrival of all these ‘compatible matches’ is starting to feel less like a miracle and more like a clever piece of misdirection.

Of course, they may not even be current users – there’s no way of telling. On other sites, you get to see when people last logged in, which at least stops you mooning for months over that salsa-dancing, cancer-curing Brad Pitt-a-like who was always going to be snapped up by the first girl who came across him. On eharmony, the workings are hidden and you’re just asked to trust in their wizardry. I’ve a vision of drawing back the curtain to discover a little old man in a pair of green specs, pulling at levers…

A concerned friend asked me this week if eharmony is fleecing me. She needn’t worry – I still haven’t subscribed yet. But I am looking for another site to try. Any suggestions of where I should go next?

Is it possible to go out on a date within office hours? I don’t mean skipping out at lunchtime to meet up with a handsome stranger. (I’ve done that. I don’t recommend it. Gives you a secret smile for the rest of the day but ruins your productivity levels.) What I mean is: if you go out with someone from work, while you’re at work, can it ever count as a date?

I ask because I need an interpretation of what just happened today. As trailed a few days ago, DOC and I had agreed to lunch. We’ve had a couple of lunches before, in the staff canteen, but today when I sent down a scout to check out the fare – I couldn’t afford to be caught in a situation where I had to eat spaghetti, noodles, or anything bright red – she came back with a damning report. Minute Steaks: possible choking hazard. Vegetarian sausages: grey, and made of polystyrene. She couldn’t bring herself to describe the side dishes.

It sounded like a rotten way to spend an hour with a nice guy, so I suggested we break out. He responded with a perfectly judged list of nearby restaurants. Not sandwich bars; not coffee shops; restaurants. I picked one that was suitably low-key, and far enough from the office that we wouldn’t bump into anyone. Then I snuck away from my desk when no one was around, so they couldn’t ask me where I was headed.

Over lunch, we barely talked work at all. We discussed books; he told me a bit about his past; I over-stated how much I was enjoying the food. We even did the mandatory sibling-counting. All in all, it was classic first-date material. And then, to spoil the mood, we went back to work.

Date or no date?

The eharmony computer has won itself a reprieve. This morning, my daily delivery of ‘suitable’ guys* included a Christian lawyer who left a big City firm to work for an overseas charity, who spends his spare time turning out for the armed forces reserve and whose last-book-read was War and Peace. Which makes him rich, compassionate, fit and brainy. Or a brilliant liar.

Either way, it felt like The Computer was finally taking me seriously. I like to think I scared it with that 48-hour ultimatum and am now receiving the real, quality product, like Stringer Bell in The Wire when he realises his package isn’t as good as the next motherf****r’s.

From the 30-odd profiles I’ve been sent so far, I’ve gleaned eight that seem worth responding to. There is a flaw, however. Because I’m still at the free trial stage, I can’t actually see any photos. This is the first time I’ve gone in blind, and to some it’ll sound like Russian Roulette – the terrifying, Deer Hunter kind, rather than the sexy, Rihanna-in-barbed-wire kind. But I’m actually quite looking forward to it. As we know, I rarely fancy a guy on first meeting, so a 2”x2” photo isn’t going to do that much for me anyway.

I’ve dropped them each an ‘icebreaker’, a standardised one-liner which is the first and most low-key form of messaging that eharmony offers you (and it’s free). After that, you graduate to a ‘guided communication’, which involves choosing, from a list, five questions you want to ask your match about himself – which he will then answer, no kidding, from a set of multiple-choice answers. Goodness, we wouldn’t want you thinking independently. It might be dangerous.

For now, my matches have just received a note telling them I ‘just wanted to say hi’. For a dating site that’s supposed to be all about personality, eharmony sure doesn’t want you to express one.

*to my inbox. Not to my door. Now there would be a service worth £34.95 a month