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Could a new app help end those dating disasters?

As finding love becomes more hi-tech, well-known faces tell Kerry McKittrick how this can only be a good thing

Published 03/09/2015

Rebecca Maguire
Rebecca Maguire
Dinner from hell: Helen Carson
Bad date: Frances Burscough
Aidan O'Neill
Caroline Curran
Steve Turnbull

The dating world can be a bit of a jungle for women trying to find "the one". Previously, the road to true love often involved kissing a lot of frogs while you screened out the commitmentphobes, bar flies and serial womanisers in the search for Mr Right.

Now, though, the internet offers so many more opportunities to meet someone new - from a myriad of dating websites to social media and apps like Tinder - but how does a girl spot the husband material among what can feel like a sea of time-wasters?

The techie world, so beloved by men, has recently unveiled an app which could save you from yet another dating disaster. Lulu lets women "review" men by logging into their smartphone to view men who they assess by answering a series of multiple choice questions, covering issues like sense of humour, manners, ambition, commitment level and appearance.

While women have duly welcomed the app as a wonderful act of sisterhood, men have dubbed the rating site as humiliation by app.

Women use hashtags to give a clue as to a man's intentions ranging from #BelievesInLove and #DudeCanCook to the less flattering #MummyIssues and worse.

We find out what two writers think about Lulu, and some local personalities share their bad date stories with us.

'Women are scrutinised every day' says Helen Carson

Information is power. And in the battlefield of dating, surveillance carried out by other operatives (women) in terms of intelligence is pure gold.

Usually when a fanciable man is between the best of female friends they can become the bitterest of enemies.

And while the internet has spawned so many male-friendly sites which appeal to men's visual senses, women appear to have fallen by the wayside.

For women, compatibility is king.

The new app Lulu is giving women a fighting chance of meeting the type of man they are looking for, and the assessment provided by other women is all the credible for it.

Men may well decry the harsh criticisms of them as a "catch" or not, but it's something men do every day.

Women's bodies are scrutinised and their looks measured as a matter of course.

The phrase "I don't fancy your's much" has become a normal comment on a lads' night out - and it nearly always comes out of the mouth of someone who doesn't resemble George Clooney or Brad Pitt.

The worst date I was ever on the guy turned up over an hour late, looked like he'd just rolled out of bed, got drunk really quickly and ended up eating the food off my plate at a posh restaurant with his hands.

So this solider is filing an unofficial report on the offender with the best piece of advice should any females encounter him. #ChequePlease #AvoidAtAllCosts.

'I've had catastrophic encounters' says Frances Burscough

During my decade as a single mother, I've had my fair share of dating experiences and I have to say that most of them ranged from unsatisfactory to catastrophic. One thing I did discover, though, is that when you get to a certain age, there are a lot of angry men out there, still licking their wounds from a bad break-up. The following is one typical example:

I had arranged to meet this man for coffee at 10am, but arrived at 10.05, only to find him pacing up and down outside the cafe, looking at his watch theatrically.

After only a couple of minutes in the queue, the audible sighing and tutting began about under-staffing.

Then he noticed, to his utter horror, that "the incompetents" had inadvertently forgotten to sprinkle chocolate on his cappuccino, so, rather than reach for it himself, he called the poor frazzled waitress over to complain.

Next, he launched into a tirade about his ex-wife. "I cannot understand, to this day, why she left me," he hissed, banging his fist so hard on the table that cappuccino foam went flying into the air.

"I can," I thought, as I reached for my coat.

If this new app Lulu allows you to rate-a-date, then that can only be a good thing because the whole point of writing a dating profile is to make yourself sound as good as possible. At least it allows you to hear a more realistic opinion.

Rebecca Maguire (23), who has been dating Evan for three years, is a former Miss Ireland, now working as a model and pharmacist. She lives in Belfast:

One dating disaster I can remember was with a boyfriend I was going out with when I was 17 or 18.

He would come over to my house, sometimes for a Chinese takeaway.

One night we had been hanging out and he said he was going outside for a moment and would be right back.

So, he went out and came back a little while later and I didn't really think anything of it.

The next morning, my mum went into the back garden and discovered he had been sick - it was quite a mess, and there was no one else who could have done it.

Needless to say, I didn't see him again."

Caroline Curran (30), who is dating Chris, is best known for her portrayal as Maggie Muff in the play 50 Shades of Red, White and Blue. She lives in Belfast:

My fiance Chris and I have been together now for nine years. I knew him through friends for a good few years before we actually went out together. It didn't start smoothly, though.

For our first date we went out to a restaurant for dinner. Chris could hardly eat anything - he had actually eaten earlier because he was so nervous. I, of course, was eating all round me.

The next thing, however, my ex-partner walked in.

It hadn't been a good break-up, so he was the last person that I wanted to see anyway.

He sent over a couple of drinks, but we left shortly after that. Obviously things did get better between Chris and I, otherwise we wouldn't still be together."

Aidan O'Neill (34), who lives with girlfriend Shamia, is an actor from Coalisland best known for his role as George Best in the play Dancing Shoes:

A few years ago, I went on a date with a girl in London. She wasn't someone that I knew before we went out and it didn't go well at all.

She was quite quiet and I found her rather dull.

At one point, I excused myself to go to the toilet.

I sent a text to a friend while I was in there, telling him the date wasn't going well and that she was really dull. When I got back to the table my date was putting her coat on.

As it turned out, I had accidentally sent the text to her instead of my friend.

There really wasn't anything else to do but say goodnight and go home after that."

Cool FM DJ Steve Turnbull (27) lives in Craigavon with his partner Sophia:

I was my own dating disaster, a long time ago. When I was about 19, I asked a girl out - I had known her for years, but finally plucked up the courage. She said yes, so I arranged to pick her up, take her to the cinema and then out to dinner.

Unfortunately, on the day of our date I was very busy. I was running around doing all sorts of errands and I just didn't have a moment to relax at all.

I picked her up and took her to the cinema, but because I'd been flat out all day, I fell asleep about 15 minutes into the film. I woke up halfway through, and thought I had gotten away with it - but then I fell asleep again.

I'm also a bit of a snorer, so I didn't get away with it the second time. I woke up with the credits rolling and she really didn't look too happy.

We went on to dinner, but again, as I'd been so busy I had forgotten to actually book a table and the restaurant was packed when we got there. I offered to take her somewhere else but at that point she said 'no', and decided to call it a night. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, though, and if it had worked out with that girl, then I probably wouldn't have met Sophia - we've been together for nearly four years now.

I've never been down the dating website route, but I did meet Sophia online. We were both signed to the same modelling agency and started messaging each other on Facebook.

We decided to go out for a bite to eat one night and then on to a comedy club, and we've been together ever since."

Belfast Telegraph

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