Since turning 50 last July and having been properly single for over four years, I decided it was time to date again. My rheumatoid arthritis was under control which meant the everyday pain I had experienced for over a year – and that had stopped me doing most things I enjoyed – was no longer dictating my every thought and action. I had started exercising again, I was working regularly and so my confidence returned. What better way to really start living again than to have some love in my life.
When I moved to Frome, Somerset, I soon realised that the majority of the local population were married with children, so the choice of prospective single men to date was severely diminished. My new friends only knew other married people or were reluctant to recommend their ‘not surprisingly’ divorced men friends, so I had to get on that hideous bandwagon called internet dating. I joined a new dating website called Bumble, which basically puts the woman in control. If I liked the look of someone or what they had to say in their very brief intro blurb, I could click on their photo and ‘like’ them. They would then get notified and have only 24 hours to reply if they ‘liked’ me back. And so it began.
The first time I went on to Bumble and put in my age range (40-56), and my desired area (15 miles from my postcode), only one man came up on my search and he happened to live in Frome. Ooh. He was also online at that precise moment and replied within minutes. We agreed to meet for coffee that day. I liked his approach which, like my own, was to meet asap rather than write messages back and forth for weeks. It came down to chemistry after all and no matter how wonderful a man sounds on paper, he might not do it for you in the flesh. So we met. We went and sat in a local café for a few hours and talked and talked. We had cake and coffee and it felt very relaxed and comfortable. Trouble was, I didn’t fancy him, and as it turned out he didn’t fancy me either. We really liked each other’s company and he has subsequently become a very close friend. We can also compare notes now on how our, mostly horrific, dates have gone. Also, my little joke, and how I have subsequently introduced him to friends, is “This is N, the most eligible bachelor in Frome”, because he is pretty much the only single man in the area. He has lots and lots of dates because of this fact!! I have had three since N, and it’s safe to say, that I am still single and pretty much fed up with the whole thing.
In my 20’s, living in America and going to University, I ended up meeting men all the time. I dated a lot, went through a series of not so serious boyfriends, and didn’t have a care in the world. When I moved back to England in my late 20’s and started working, I had a new set of colleagues, old friends, and friends of friends, and I never seemed to have a problem attracting and meeting guys. Then I met the love of my life and for a few years I thought that was it. He was the one. Turned out he wasn’t, and after quite am extensive mourning period, I tried internet dating for the first time. I was in my 30’s by then, and met and went out with some great guys, but none of them lasted. By the time I was in my late 30’s, dating became more complicated. For women, the biological clock is ticking very loudly and very fast and it can be a scary thing to meet someone and think that you have to make this work very quickly if you have any prospects of having a child. But then fate, that cruel ironic beast, came into play and I was told I couldn’t physically have children after all. The weighty burden and pressure had been removed but every man I met still wanted children, so I gave up dating, thinking there was really no point. By my early 40’s I tried again, thinking that by this age, men were more likely to have children and maybe I would meet a wonderful divorcé with kids. I would have a ready-made family. Great. I did meet a wonderful man with a teenage son, a romantic Celt with a heart full of poetry and romance. We fell in love hard and fast. There was no pressure, we simply loved being around each other but other circumstances came into play and the relationship ended.
I haven’t been unhappy being single so please don’t feel sorry for me. I think if you surround yourself with loved ones... both friends and family, your life can be so full. I have a great life; a beautiful home in a town I adore, and my days are packed with exciting things. I am really happy but there are always occasions when you need a kiss and a hug and someone to tell you they care. So, I carried on dating after meeting N, and this is what happened.
My second date was with an Irish climate-change executive. He went around the world advising big corporations on how they could make their businesses cleaner and greener. I found him fascinating. He was bright and charming, well read and funny. Tick, tick, tick, tick. We met a second time and had a 4-hour lunch in a local pub and just as we were about to leave, he mentioned he was going to Wales for another date. Um… sorry, what did you just say? Turns out, he was serial dating, a mostly male activity I hasten to add, where they see as many women as they can at one time, and then strike off the ones they don’t like as much. It is cut-throat and lots of men do it, they just don’t usually tell you about it on your date. I suppose he thought he was being up-front, but it didn’t feel quite right. My way of dating is to see one man at a time and if it doesn’t work out, then you move on. Stupid old fashioned-me. And lo and behold, later that night he texted me informing me I was off the list. My words, not his.
Next!! My third date was with a very witty man from Yorkshire, a single dad, hard-working and also new to the area. We met in a pub a few villages away for lunch. As it was a Monday, we were the only ones in there, thank god. Witty on paper turned out to be very loud, rude and crude in person, and even the waiter raised his eyebrows at me as he approached the table. In fact, the waiter was my only saving grace, pulling faces at me from behind the bar as my date dropped innuendo after innuendo, and finally put his hands on his hips and shook his head at me, when the date suggested meeting up again. I said thanks but no thanks.
My fourth date was with a surgeon from Bath. Tall, handsome, a tad shy but quite brilliant. We met at Babington for brunch on an Indian Summer’s day in late September. The brunch turned into lunch which then continued until afternoon tea and finally an early evening drink. It was so good, I was giddy. When he said goodbye, he gave me a lovely kiss and told me it was the best date he’d ever had. Wow. One hour later I received a text saying, “Thanks so much for the most wonderful day, I just don’t think we are that compatible. Good luck.” I would consider myself a very good reader of people, but I certainly didn’t see that coming. Oh well.
I am still waiting for my fifth date with an army major who knows some old friends of mine, but the fact that we have had to cancel the date more than 4 times since November doesn’t fill me with much hope. Sometimes you have to read the signs and go with your gut. My gut is saying I will meet someone when I least expect it. My gut is saying stop dating from the internet. However, if your gut is saying, “Ooh I know just the man for Jules”, then please send him my way. x