RightSwiper Coaches: Mark Keen

coaches Oct 22, 2023

About Mark

I have a big sister. She is not big, of course, but she is two years older than me, and as such, when we were kids, she was my big sister, and I was her little brother. If we’re ever together and she has to introduce me to someone, she takes great delight in introducing her 1.82m, 200 lb brother as her little brother when, as is plainly evident to bystanders, she is much smaller than me.

Having a big sister, you would have thought that as I grew up, I would be familiar with girls, as I lived with one. Sometimes, my sister would have a friend over at the house. At these times, I would freeze. Maybe it’s because they were older than me, and in this respect, like goddesses instead of just my sister’s friends.

So, my knowledge of the opposite sex in my early life wasn’t all that useful. And it continued to get even less useful.

My father was a church organist and ran the church choir. I have never been religious, but somehow, at 8, I got talked into joining the choir.

My father had a very traditional view of church choirs: the junior section should be all boys. Many church members asked for their girls to be admitted to the junior choir, but he rebuffed them, claiming that a pre-pubescent boy’s singing tone was much purer than a girl’s. He later changed that opinion when his supply of willing choir boys dried up because they were much more interested in computer games and football.

However, during my years of forced choir singing labour, the junior section was all boys. So, right from an early age, I was being forced into an unnatural universe where girls were an alien species to me.

As if that weren’t enough, my male only environment continued at the age of 11 when I was sent to an all-boys’ school. Sure, there were girls in the school next door, but that made things worse because they were being dangled in front of our very eyes, but we rarely had a chance to interact with them.

In fact, I only encountered girls at this age for more than a few moments when I was 16. At this age, I took Economics as a subject, and because the girls’ school next door did not have an Economics Department, they were mixed in with some of the boys.

Again, this was even worse, for me at least. In fact, in the class, the only way we seemed to be able to co-exist was when one of the boys sat next to his girlfriend (How do you get one of those!), and then she sat next to a girl and all the girls lined up after her. A boy sat next to the boy with a girlfriend, and then all the boys lined up after that boy. In short, girls were complete and utter aliens. The Economics teacher tried to make us mix, but the results were barely worth mentioning and very temporary. It was like two different races from Star Trek had been dumped in a room with no knowledge of each other and no way of communicating.

The irony of this is that two decades later, thanks to Friends Reunited, I reconnected (well, connected) with one of those girls, and we have a fantastic friendship today. Like many people, I was idly looking over the names of people from my school, and I remembered hers quite well, as it was an unusual name.

We chatted a little and eventually met up. Today we are great friends and often laugh about those days in Economics class. Her memories were the same as mine; the boys were alien. Not everyone in that class felt the same, but I definitely balked at the idea of even going to the classes.

During this time, I got involved in hospital radio, aged 16-18. Once again, all the females were older than me, and the attractive ones were like goddesses, waaaay out of my zone! At the age of 18, I got my first girlfriend. I had finished school and on my last day, I met a beautiful lady from the girls’ school. On my last day! By chance, I met her again at an end-of-year party a few days later, and we really hit it off. I was lucky because she just ‘got me’ and we saw each other for about a year. Finally, her mum proved to be a bit of a handful and that was the end of it.

At 19, I went to do my degree. This was a transitionary period for me because girls were suddenly a regular part of my life! My major was Communication Studies, and it was about a 50/50 split so there were many nice, friendly ladies on my course. This was when, probably for the first time, I began to form actual friendships with members of the opposite sex.

Fortunately, I had been blessed with a quick wit and the ability to make people laugh. I even got to the nasty business of asking girls out occasionally. Still, if I could listen back to audio tapes of those approaches, they would be the most cringeworthy recordings ever. Seriously, if you have them, please destroy them.

There were also girls in my accommodation so things were beginning to normalise. However, in my second year, I went all boys again! I moved into a house with four other males, and it was VERY testosterony environment.

In my three years of studying, I had a go at trying to ask girls out, but I just wasn’t cool, I was the geeky radio guy. AND – in the 80s, I started to go prematurely thin on top. This was a blow to my self-confidence, and although I managed to form proper friendships with females, by the age of 22, I had still only really had one girlfriend.

At this point, I joined the world of work and went to work for the BBC in England and things began to change, a little, at least. As someone who could now work, I gained a lot of self-confidence, and I felt a little more normal. But the problem is this: because of that early start in life, I have always found it extremely difficult to approach an attractive woman and just start talking normally. I remember I was working at a radio station where I was exceptionally well known around the city. We were doing some gig in a nightclub and one of our sales guys, who had all the chat, was with me and a colleague and he was chatting to two girls. We stood there, thinking we were part of it. The sales guy wandered off after a while, and in an instant, those girls were gone! Seriously, it was like they had teleported somewhere. I just didn’t have the chat, which was strange, because I was Mr. Cool on the radio.

Of course, I have had some lengthy relationships over the years, but as time went on and dating sites became more popular, to me it was an easy way to overcome that inability to ‘just go and talk to someone’. I know I can write well, so I was at an advantage straightaway, but many other aspects of dating sites need to be mastered.

So, if Craig thinks I am the King of the Dating Site, he’s wrong, it’s just that over a long period of time I have learned, by trial and error, what to do and what not to do, and I have managed to start some very fulfilling relationships over the years using dating sites. Of course, most of the time, you will get junk mail. But if you persevere, it is possible to find that one person…all you need to do is get them to the second date, and the rest is up to you.
We are here to try and save you twenty years of trial and error, by bringing to you our joint experiences, observations and advice on how to get dating sites right.

So, when we decided to call the project RightSwiper, we had two things in mind.
First, many apps these days tell you to ‘Swipe Right’ if you like and left if you don’t. However, we are also referring to finding the ‘right’ one. Believe me, that person is out there, and finding a needle in a haystack is a lot easier when someone just gave you a metal detector.

I used the metal detector for my last relationship, which was with a wonderful lady and ended due to the travel restrictions of COVID-19. We are still friends, but we have moved on.

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So many people get worn out by the nonsense of internet dating, complaining that "all the men on dating sites are only after one thing" or "women don't give nice guys a chance." Unbeknownst to them, their approach is unwittingly crafting the outcomes they so vehemently despise. RightSwiper teaches you to change that for good. 

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