Now. Before you turn up your noses, scoff from the enviable comfort of your significant others' arms or all of the above, hear me out.
I woke up this morning and turned over to scroll through Facebook on my phone - as you do in this age of Instagram models and Google glasses - when I came across one of the hardest hitting statuses I'd seen in a while. No, it wasn't about lab-tested bunnies or soldiers in Iraq. It wasn't one of those love stories that you have to like and share otherwise you'll be cursed with misery and romantic barrenness for the rest of your sorry life - although my tendency to dismiss them may explain a lot. It simply read: How did I end up on match.com? And immediately the world around me closed in and my lilac jacquard duvet cocoon suddenly felt like a fortress of shame.
I'm 20 and newly so. I've always been independent and, unlike a large portion of my friends, haven't already chosen every detail of my wedding down to the colour of the ribbons on the bridesmaids' bouquets. I haven't named my unborn children already, illogically decided their sexes and written a list of all the traits my future husband must posses or bust. In fact, the closest I've ever gotten to that was planning weddings for my Barbie dolls as a child and, even then, relationships were a formula that played out something like this: boy meets girl -> boy kisses girl's feet -> girl is princess -> boy is man slave. Yet, on more than one occasion - I am ashamed to say - I've found myself tentatively hovering on their brightly coloured homepage wondering if I could find my knight in shining armour with the click of a button.
You see, here's the thing. Everywhere we turn, we're hit with love like a club in the face. A big, shiny, fluorescent pink club that makes you feel similar to how Goliath must have felt when he was beaten by a tiny guy with a rock. 'It all starts with a date', they say, as if in this day and age dates just rain from the sky. That's about as likely as Channing Tatum landing in my lap during that Weather Girls song (Happy Birthday, by the way). Match.com lulls you into a sense of security. Hey, you're young and you're single and you spend half of your time laughing at memes on the Internet. That's ok. It all starts with a date. So, on you go, full of rose-tinted hopes that you too can find a man that likes carrots and mango chutney as much as you. And, maybe, you might even perform an accidental duet in a quirky shop full of dinky nic-nacs and realise, like the couple in the advert, that you both like the Godfather 3 (which, by the way, I have never seen).
There's the guy top left, he doesn't look so jolly. Next. Then there's the guy three rows down, far right. He's jolly enough but he's not even looking into the camera. What does this say about his lack of commitment? Next. Then you realise that the default age bracket in the sign up box is 25-45. That's 5 years older than me and none of these men seem to posses the right balance of jolly and devoted.
With head hung low, you slink back to your jacquard printed fortress of shame. It all starts with a date, a date you're yet to secure. Until then, you'll continue to be hit with the shiny, pink club whilst you listen to your friends talk about why they want an ivory dress instead of pure white and, 2 months down the line, you'll probably find yourself back where you started. On match.com. 20 and desperate.