TwitLonger

Footnote to today's 28 Dates Later: The whole world of the online hookup is unbelievably dark and strange. I mean, I thought I'd seen some odd stuff on regular dating sites, but the hookup sites are just a whole extra level of weird. Everyone uses text speak - no-one delivers more than about 20 words before there is a demand for a picture of some of your intimate giblets. The language is brutal, direct. Everything is suspicious and shady. Frankly, I imagined if you responded to about half the ads on Craigslist intimate encounters, you'd end up either with a prostitute handing you a bill for services rendered, or a burly bloke with a baseball bat meeting you at the arranged venue, then frogmarching you to a cashpoint and robbing you.

It was all darkly fascinating though. I suppose, as a journalist, I've always been drawn to investigating the seedy underbelly of the world, of looking behind the wainscot where dark things lurk, as HP Lovecraft would have it. While I had decided I wasn't going to actually go on a date from a pure hookup site, I was interested in how they worked. I tracked down a chap who had used them - indeed, the revelation that he had been using them had wrecked his relationship and his career.

I asked him if they were real - and he confirmed that these meetings really do happen. Usually in hotels, he said, which indicated to me he was probably using higher end sites. He said the norm was for both sides to claim that this was "their first time" trying online sex hookups. While he said he never encountered any violence or mugging or extortion, he described one encounter with a scottish woman which left him feeling so empty, hollow and ashamed that he went downstairs and wept in the hotel bar afterwards. Which is not, one assumes, the desired result.

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