Roifield: I was always meeting the same type of person and I wanted to break that cycle. It makes sense too, because London is such an anonymous city and it’s hard to meet someone unless it’s through a friend of a friend, which hadn’t worked out for me.
I was on Soulmates for about three weeks before I met Leandra, my wife. I posted that I would like to meet a woman in her 30s and, initially, I had a couple of date disasters. The first date I arranged was a lunch date and I soon realised what a bad idea that was. Lunch is not like grabbing a coffee; you’re locked in, even when there’s no spark. The other disaster was with a woman I met on the site who didn’t have a profile picture. Alarm bells should have started ringing, but she wrote funny messages so I decided to go for it. I asked her if she wanted to go for a coffee. She replied that I should come round to her house instead. When I arrived, the house looked shabby, there was no doorbell and it was pitch black inside. It turned out she was not in her 30s but her late 40s, and once we started chatting I realised it wasn’t going anywhere. I stayed for a coffee though because I felt sorry for her. She had been on Soulmates for nine months and I was her first date.
After a few more dates – some good, some bad – I received an email from Leandra, but she didn’t have a profile picture, which made me apprehensive. I didn’t reply straight away, but then I thought why not? She only lived down the road. We started to email a bit more, then had a phone conversation and arranged to meet for a coffee date on a Sunday. Once we met up I knew I wanted to see her again. We started going out regularly and soon fell in love.
I like being in a relationship, so I went on Soulmates to find a date that would lead to something long-term
I guess I’m not 100% comfortable with telling people we met online. There is a part of you that thinks you somehow failed socially because your eyes didn’t meet across a crowded room. But the overly romantic method of meeting someone is unrealistic in this day and age because, as a society, we don’t smile at people in the street anymore, or strike up conversations with strangers. I’m just very happy things turned out the way they did.
The idea of online dating didn’t really phase me, it just seemed like the kind of thing people in my age group do
Leandra: Online dating is a bit like being a kid in a candy shop. You can look at all the goods on offer before making a choice, which was great for me because I am so specific about what I want. Dating online also helps you get clear in your head what you want from a partner. It’s an opportunity to sort the wheat from the chaff, so the odds of finding someone you get on with are better.
My field of work is dominated by women and when I went out it was with couples, so my chances of meeting a new partner were minimal.
I had been in a fairly long-term relationship that came to an end in 2006. After that, I went on a few dates set up through friends and I had a fairly successful short-term relationship. After we broke up I thought to myself: “I’m 34, I have a daughter, and in terms of dating I’ve been there, done that, it’s time to try something different.”
I put my profile up, but I didn’t add a photo because I had heard that, as a woman, when you add a photo you get lots of responses, which scared me. I wanted to have more control over the volume of responses. A couple of people asked me out on dates, but I didn’t respond immediately; I was still cautious. I also assumed a degree of deception; you hear stories about people lying about their age and appearance.
Then I noticed that Roifield and I had a high match [when you join Soulmates the site matches you with people based on your requirements]. I saw that he was local – I live in Queens Park and he lives in Notting Hill.
I also noticed that he had two de age as my daughter. I found this reassuring and I also liked that he had similar political leanings to me. So I sent him an email that said: “Hi, you live down the road, here’s my number, call me and we can meet up.” He told me later that I shouldn’t have given out my number, that it wasn’t the correct etiquette for online dating, but I had no idea. I just thought it was silly to keep emailing when I knew I’d be able to tell after five minutes on the phone whether I wanted to take it further.
When we spoke, I did find him easy to get on with, so we arranged to meet for a coffee. Once we met up we stayed chatting to each other for hours. We started dating in , by December we were living together and then we got .
Soulmates made sense for where I was at in my life. With a child, it’s not like I could go out to bars and pubs all the time. All my friends were coupled up, the single people I knew all used online dating and it was a really good way to see what was out there.