A (De) Winter Romance

Two fictional Soulmates profiles reveal the pros and cons of being honest when presenting yourself online

As it’s almost Christmas, let’s play a game. Here are two Soulmates profiles for fictional characters. Guess who this is:

Gothika – Slim, sophisticated and exquisitely calm. I find few things more pleasurable than a little light bondage. A night owl, I wouldn’t be seen dead in the ‘healthy’ outdoors.

“I am told men find my intellect and pale beauty a little intimidating. Perfect for me would be someone intelligent, witty, dashing and adventurous, who is also an accomplished dancer and dextrous with his epée. He will worship and adore me more than life itself and be prepared to say so repeatedly, in several different languages (I am a cunning linguist). Wealth, property and Latin charm would complete the package. Small eccentricities will be tolerated, larger ones are much desired.”

I reckon I’d sleep with one eye open…

What about this man:

Inverno – Country gentleman, 40s; urbane widower with traditional values and slightly morbid mind-set WLTM charming, naive ingénue with view to possible LTR. A young lady who is cultured and self-possessed, with a gentle, forgiving nature, would fit the bill, as would knowledge of running a large country estate and handling occasionally difficult staff. Your background is less important than being well bred and understanding how to avoid social gaffes, with particular reference to fancy dress. I can be quite brooding, a little inclined to patronise and not much given to PDAs.” 

Hmm… I wonder if he’s confused Soulmates with Sits Vac.

If you’ve worked out who we’re talking about here, you may have noticed that our fictional profiles feature varying levels of honesty – and if you’ve thought carefully about who you’d like to get together with, you will also think carefully about what you include and what you don’t. I mean, if you’re not truthful, or if you’re economical with the truth to the point of austerity, whose fault is it if you end up on a string of hopeless dates with unsuitable suitors? On the other hand, you might be too open, which risks making your potential date feel uncomfortable – unless you’re our friend Gothika. Or perhaps you’ll seem like a fantasist, like the profile I read in which the writer claimed to have a “huge schlong”; this may or may not have been true, but even if he was joking it still confirms that he was indeed a massive dick.

One of the main areas of contention is the age thing. Most people I speak to tell me that everyone knocks a few years off. I have an issue with this. It’s the same as the unspoken assumption that when an advertiser asks a model agent to cast a 40-year-old, the agent will cast a 40-year-old at their peril because what the advertiser really means is that they want a 30-year-old. So why not come clean? How are we ever going to make things better for the older dater if we keep lying about how old we are? Sooner or later you will do or say something that gives you away, and you’ll have to deal with it. The other thing about age fibs is that they only ever go one way – I don’t see any 30-year-olds claiming they’re really 50. We need to adjust our expectations and stop seeing “older” as a handicap or we’ll end up blaming it for anything that’s wrong with our lives instead of taking responsibility.

Now, having said all that about honesty, it’s probably unwise to make too much of your more outré predilections (if you have them) – after all, wouldn’t you get to know someone better in real life before introducing them to the more unusual ways you make use of a hard-boiled egg? Similarly, it’s stupid and pointless to affect a love of contemporary opera or greyhound racing if you hate both. This is the sort of thing Hyacinth Bucket got up to, and it almost never ended well. The most useful skill you can cultivate is that of self-knowledge and being able to see yourself as others see you. If you can’t manage that – and it’s not as easy as it sounds – then get a trusted friend to read your profile because they’ll know if it really sounds like you. They’ll also know if what you’re angling for is that type you’re always attracted to who turns out to be catastrophically bad news. 

To return to our two fictional Soulmates, I’ve always had something of a girl crush on “Gothika”, and she continues to influence my dress sense – and for years my silly romantic heart beat a little faster when I imagined an “Inverno” of my very own (together with his large country estate and cocker spaniel), although that was before I realised that he’s actually terribly selfish and a colossal bore. But wait… Maxim de Winter was once married to Rebecca, who, when you think about it, sounded quite a lot like Morticia Addams. It’s just occurred to me that the two of them would probably get on like a house on fire…

Follow The Invisible Woman on Twitter at @TheVintageYear.

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