The ‘Sharon Stone of Agony Aunts’, Karen Krizanovich explains the highs and lows of online dating

Unless you’re dead, you want sex.

If you’re married, you want sex with someone you’re not married to. Humans are perverse like that. So if you’re a woman coming out of a long term relationship that you really quite liked, where would you go for sex outside of the obvious, i.e. your own right hand or something plugged into the mains? You’d ask your gay friends, of course, because gay friends know everything.

Mine advised me to put Bumble on my phone. It’s a **cough** dating app which is like Tinder if Tinder had washed and went to university. Bumble is very different to Tinder in other ways too. Seriously, there isn’t a shred of intellect on Tinder. It’s all against the wall. My early foray on Tinder had me chatting with a chap who, within five sentences, wanted me to beat the crap out of him. Not wishing to condemn his kink – that wouldn’t be polite – I took a breath and replied, “I couldn’t possibly beat you. I’d have to be in a relationship with you if I were to do that.” I meant such a thing would need to be in a safe and consensual relationship (preferably with someone other than me) but of course, reading it now, it came out all wrong. Shortly thereafter a roving moped boy stole my phone and I was saved from having to interact any further. The theft was a blessing: Jesus came to me right there on Rathbone Place and saved me from sexual hell.

It is the all-encompassing nature of Tinder that is both its strength and downfall. Everyone’s there, without quality control. Even more amazing is the quality of men you find on some of the ropiest sites. Half the population was being kept company with males from toyboywarehouse.com – the same men who deny that they’re after older women. But why wouldn’t you be? Older women have their own money, don’t want children, don’t want to get married, aren’t afraid of their own orgasms, can drive, drink and shoot and don’t suffer fools. We have PhDs, MBAs and BSCs and that’s just chained in our basements. We are the men we wanted to marry because those men either died or left and married someone fertile. We cried a bit then got on with it.


This is why Bumble is a candy shop for the confident woman. There is something for everyone here. Unlike Tinder, sometimes the blokes on Bumble have even gone to public school: sweet Jesus, colour me happy. (Yes, I do have a type.) The rules of this app are simple. On Bumble, you can set the distance, age and gender range. If there’s a match, women must make the first move. Designed like a game, the players only have to upload some photos and write a sentence about themselves, which is optional. Then they can begin to swipe on profiles, sliding either left for ‘not a snowball’s chance in hell” or right which means “I’m already basking in your detumescence.” I don’t swipe right unless I find myself exclaiming, “OH MY GOD, YOU BEAUTY!” It’s an embarrassing habit but the staff in the Rare Book Reading Room at the British Library cut me a lot of slack.

Because I am also a moron, I wanted to be truthful yet amusing in my profile. I experimented. At first I wrote, “Your mum told me to swipe right.” That was a little too raw even for me. I ended up deleting it but the millennials got the joke. I do love millennials. They’re smart, literate, smell good and look great naked. They’re curious and they don’t snore. They also want to do things. Drinks? Yes! Dinner? Sure! Clay shooting? Why not? Polo? Of course! Open a jeroboam? Absolutely! Sex club? Where are my latex shorts? As a generation, they have a great sense of humour even if they insist on watching “The Riot Club” ad nauseam. I’ve had to up my musical and cultural references because Mel Brooks doesn’t cut it any more. Of course, I don’t know everything about millennials. But I’ll let you know more later, after I’ve finished texting with your son.

Despite being of a higher mileage, I am often accused of being a catfish – that I don’t actually exist. This is amusing as my photos are all recent and, IMH, not that hawt. Granted, I don’t paint on my eyebrows, but honestly, high heels and stockings seem to be the visual currency to distract from all other flaws. Then again, I matched with a veteran from Afghanistan who had two prosthetic limbs. I didn’t even notice; I was busy gazing at his angelic face.

Readers who remember the 90s may recognize Karen from Sky Magazines regular ‘Dear Karen’ column

It’s not all rumpus, though. I do get the occasional yoof backstab, generally about my lack of explicit photos or the fact that I can spell and they can’t. They have to strike at me somehow, so they opt for age. Why not? It’s easy. “Why are your age settings so low?” snarled a 26 year old who really should have known better. “Why are your settings so high, Oedipus?” I snapped back. Do not fuck with me, boyo. Age is easy to ignore. A nasty personality is not. On the age front let me say, finally, that I have, m’lord, I really have tried to date age appropriately. But older guys don’t like me. They are like damaged animals. They’re scared. They’re vulnerable. They don’t understand that they don’t have to look real in a profile photo. They can put up a photo that makes them look good. Do not put up a photo from ten years ago or one of Leonardo DiCaprio in “Wolf of Wall Street”. For the love of God, men, please up your game! You’ll get laid more. And stop saying that you went to the University of Life. EVERYONE HAS. FFS. (Learn the current acronyms too.)

There is also sometimes this odd concept of wanting to get to “know you”. Vom. In younger guys this is a ploy to get more sex – adorable really to craft such a devious yet surefire mechanism. But genuinely, a lot of older guys do not want to date you. They want a “relationship”. I don’t know if their erectile policy includes knowing my name or if they think knowing my favourite colour will bring them steady sex and clean laundry. All I know is older men completely baffle me. One bio I read recently was a guy who said, “Not interested in ONS.” He was 65 and not a sleek fit f*ckable 65 either. Who the hell was he kidding?

Bumble is a great app populated with some incredible beauties, men who in my 20s I couldn’t have snagged with £50 notes pinned to my person. Everything I have ever wanted in my entire life has come to me on Bumble. Well, there was that one thing that.…but I digress. That man on the shiny bay horse? He knew he was beautiful. Full lips and unflinching gaze, he was untouchable. But I swiped right and before the day was up, he was touchable in extremis.


Do you see how civilised this all is? It astonishes me that people who demonise Tinder, Bumble, Feeld or any of the other dating app without even trying them. They are so much better than hangin’ out at the pub waiting for some toothless male prey to wander your way. Analogue dating bored me to death and it always will. Bumble is so much faster, neater and those annoying grammatical errors come up right away. Would I really want to match with a guy who doesn’t know his plurals from his possessives? Nuh uh.

While most of the matching happens online, there is much to be done IRL. (Google it if you don’t know what that means.) My mother took one look at Bumble and said, “Is there money involved?” She’s too smart by half really. She asks me too, “How long do you think you can do this?” Well, mum, I don’t know. Till I croak? I’m having such an awful lot of fun. It is work too, what with the manicures, waxing, blowdrys, new clothes and my lingerie bill is through the roof. You cannot find an opened cupped bra in a 34A; I’ve tried. Of all the cowards I’ve talked to, I have only been stood up once. (Say you’re not going to make it and be a man about it.) There are the guys who only want validation (i.e. want to know my sex stories because they have none of their own). There are the pussy whipped, the sweaty uni-boys, almost-dead divorced dads, wary over-hunted bachelors with receding hairlines and those who are at least theoretically bi. It’s fascinating. Bumble is humanity, naked and digital, in more ways than one.