For those looking to find ‘the one’ we look at online apps, singles nights and even sugar daddy sites to suit all tastes
It’s Saturday night – but not for much longer.
I think people are slightly tired of scrolling and swiping through dating appsEleisha Wightman
After a hard week at work you’ve finally swapped the soul-sapping four walls of the office for the swanky interior of a tapas bar in the city.
Your friends are fast-approaching the bottom of their drinks and there’s only five minutes left until last orders.
It’s getting late.
You glance over your shoulder and there she is, the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen.
After a moment of silent reflection, you muster up the courage to go over there.
But just as you approach that empty stool your gaze is eclipsed by a hulking man of 6ft 5in – her boyfriend.
And now you’re the laughing stock of your mates.
But don’t worry, there are so many ways to date now that you need not ever have to go through that face-to-face humiliation again.
For those who’ve been too busy to find love, in the digital age many turn to online dating sites and mobile phone apps such as Tinder and Plenty of Fish – for anything from those looking for meaningful relationships to casual hook-ups.
We don’t even have to leave the comfort of our own bed to find romance.
They allow singles to chat to people within their local area or further away at the swipe or tap of a smartphone screen, for free, without the embarrassment of face-to-face rejection.
On Tinder, users create a personal profile and upload a selfie before they can access pictures of other single people.
Then it’s simple – swipe left on a picture if you don’t fancy that person, or swipe right if you do.
Should you and another user both swipe right on each other’s profiles, you are matched – a digital bond which permits a private conversation inside the app.
To date, more than 20 billion matches have been made on Tinder since its creation in 2012.
But users should beware of the thousands of fake profiles on the sites.
For those who find swiping left and right simply too impersonal, there is now a new dating movement which harks back to days gone by, when people found the love of their lives when their eyes met across a crowded room. Sort of.
Spice Island Inn in Old Portsmouth has been hosting Slow Dating events for the past year, a more in-depth version of speed dating.
The pub’s assistant manager, Gareth Kennerson, says they have been a big success.
‘I personally prefer the idea of speed dating to that of using a service like Tinder or Plenty of Fish.
‘ If you come here, you can meet someone face-to-face, have a chat and get to know them without wondering if they’re actually real or not.
‘I know people who have found happy relationships using those apps, but because of the direction they’ve been taken in by some people, they get a bit of a reputation for just being used for hook-ups.
‘There is definitely still a place for speed dating and I personally believe this is a more organic and platonic way of meeting new people.’
At each Slow Dating event at the Spice Island Inn, participants – who can take part in £20 sessions across multiple age groups, starting at 21-31 – have four minutes to chat with each potential partner.
If they like a person, they tick their personal card –but if they don’t find anyone they fancy, they receive a free session to try their luck again.
Slow Dating events manager Eleisha Wightman says: ‘Our events are extremely popular in Portsmouth – we’ve seen a bit of a boom.
‘I think people are now slightly tired of scrolling and swiping through dating apps and getting no lasting results, so they come to us to try something face-to-face, something real.
‘If you’ve never tried speed dating before, I encourage you to come along.
‘Don’t worry about being nervous, everyone is – just relax, have a fun time and see what we can do for you.’
A far cry from the spoils of speed dating, some go to a greater extreme to achieve intimacy in the modern age.
University of Portsmouth student Kathryn Clelland knows this only too well – having used another dating app, Happn, to indulge in sensual encounters with an adventurous city couple.
Unlike Tinder, Happn only allows users to communicate if they have literally crossed paths in real life – in the street, for example.
Opening up about her saucy pursuit, Kathryn, 21, said: ‘I saw an advert for the app on Facebook and downloaded it – I didn’t think much of it at the time.
‘When I started flicking through, I saw a girl with a guy’s name and I was intrigued.
‘It turned out to be a couple and their profile said they were looking for someone to join them.
‘I pressed the like button, we met for a drink at Gunwharf the next day, then went back to their hotel room at the Ibis hotel in Winston Churchill Avenue and took it from there.
‘I was up there for about three or four hours. I felt great when I left and we even met a few times after that.’
Miss Clelland, who describes herself as a ‘very honest person’, advised anyone looking to replicate her situation to do so cautiously.
She said: ‘Tell someone where you’re going and make sure the people you speak to are who they say they are.
‘It’s supposed to be fun, but if you’re worried about your safety, you should think again.’
To find out more about Slow Dating events go to slowdating.com.
Would you consider taking a sugar daddy?
Portsmouth hit the headlines in 2016 when it was revealed the most new subscribers to the online sugar daddy website SeekingArrangement were students from the University of Portsmouth.
The site couples up so-called sugar babies – young, attractive men and women – with older, wealthy admirers.
Alledgedly, there are more than 460 sugar babies from the university – looking to exchange their company, and in some cases intimacy, for being showered with gifts and cash from older suitors.
When asked why the site was so popular with this young demographic, SeekingArrangement spokesperson Brook Urick says: ‘It’s so appealing to students because it’s an alternative to the gruelling part-time job scenario most young people have to deal with.
‘It’s a way to increase study time and provide for themselves during the university years, without having to miss out on seeing the world or having nice things.’
Occasionally, an arrangement between a sugar baby and a sugar daddy can include sexual intimacy.
Addressing the controversy of this notion, Brook said: ‘Exchanging sex for money is absolutely not allowed on SeekingArrangement.
‘If two adults enter into a relationship where sex is consensual, that is their choice.
‘Being a sugar baby, though, is more than that – it’s a lifestyle and not a one-night stand.’
To learn more, visit seekingarrangement.com.