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Posted by / 15-Dec-2017 07:04

She'd met her husband through it and assured me I'd be an absolute stud online, as I'm charming and normal, as opposed to most of the men on mainstream dating sites."Online dating is great for people like you, Willard – it's like we've finally invented a pair of tight jeans for being funny, or a push-up bra for being intelligent," she said.

Unfortunately, while I was charming, intelligent, funny and normal, that gave me no guarantee that the person I'd meet would be the same. While this was clearly one of the worst dates ever, it wasn't the worst I've ever been on, or ever heard of.

I decided I'd start writing a blog about it – in honour of being bitten on my first date, I called it "28 Dates Later".

Of course, writing about dating posed its own challenges.

I simultaneously wanted dates that were amusing enough to blog about, but I also wanted a real chance of meeting the future Mrs Foxton.

I still don't think I've got over the shock of a naval officer messaging me to say: "Bang bang bang cheeky boy, I like fine chess and handcuffs. " There were plenty of other nightmares – including another visit to A&E near the end with what I can only describe as a sex injury – but I actually found the whole experience of dating on the wild side overwhelmingly positive.

At the same time, I could use the full breadth of all the mainstream dating sites and see which one was the best.

To make up the number 28, I'd have to go on 14 dates from the strange dating sites, and 14 dates from the mainstream ones.

I never really meant to start internet dating, but after a long-term relationship left me single aged 32, I didn't really feel like I had a choice.

My break-up was a bit nightmarish – the girl was due to be the bridesmaid at our friend's all-American, taffeta ballgowns-and-doves-style wedding – you know, the kind of weddings they have at the end of American romcoms – and she failed to show.

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On mainstream sites, I often found people who were strange – one girl who organised her dating via a giant spreadsheet, for example, and another who started tearfully talking about her suicide attempts by the second drink.