Dating in the 80s and 90s was so simple for me.
I’d go out to a pub or down town with friends, catch a guy’s eye and exchange numbers and hopefully he would call over the next day or two.
However things these days are so much more complicated.
I wasn’t expecting to find myself a widow at the age of 48 with a young child, but here I was, one year after the event and ready to start dating again.
What was it I was looking for? There was so much more to think about now, especially with a child and wrinkles on my face and a body no longer young and youthful.
But I suppose I wasn’t going to find anyone sat indoors waiting for a handsome man to come knocking at my door.
As time had passed my friends have moved on with their lives and were married and rarely went out unless it was Christmas or a special occasion, but even saying that people my age don’t seem to want to know anymore – it’s all about being sat at home and doing it online…..so I had to log my details onto the murky world of online dating and, boy oh boy, that was a real eye opener.
I know online dating worked as I met my late husband online on the dating site, my brother met his lovely wife on it and several of my friends had had successful relationships, so I knew there were success stories to be had.
I just wasn’t expecting so many disaster dates to come my way this time around.
My expectations were too high, I wasn’t prepared to settle for just anyone, but I had to start somewhere.
One of my first experiences was with a paying site – I thought I’d get a better calibre of men from a site where they had to put their hand in their pocket to meet someone nice.
I agreed to meet a man at a local restaurant close to where he lived, I could drive and it really wasn’t a problem getting there.
The night was dark, wet and windy (typical for January) and when we met at the restaurant the waitress took my coat and hung it up on the coat stand.
She led us to our table and asked if I’d like to see the gluten free menu.
With that my date looked me up and down and replied: “No thank you, and she doesn’t need to see the lactose intolerant menu either!”
Well my initial reaction was to laugh, but inside I was thinking ‘jerk’!
We sat and ordered a starter and a main each and I insisted on paying half – but he insisted on paying for all of it.
He asked me: “So, what do you do with your spare time when you’re not being mummy?”
I replied: “Ohh I dunno, I like to play squash, I belong to a badminton group and I like to jive dance, I bodyboard in the summer with friends, I’m sociable and like to barbecues, plus I like to walk around National Trust areas.”
He replied: “That’s all very dull!”
He went on to tell me that he regularly jumps out of planes for charity and has climbed the east face of the Eiger (or some other mountain).
How dare he say I was dull, I was 48, I’d travelled the world, I had a responsible job in the NHS, friends and family who love me, but because I hadn’t thrown myself out of plane or ridden an elephant over the Alps I was deemed “dull”.
I ate my starter while listening to him drone on about himself…’blah blah plane, blah blah climbing, blah blah exciting’.
Things were not going well so I make my excuse to go to the toilet and I grabbed my coat and I left.
I’m not really sure if he managed to eat two main meals but he did say he was going to pay!
Once in my car I opened up the dating app and blocked him and went home to never giving him a second thought, until now!
I could see that my struggle to meet someone was going to be an uphill battle.
However I also now knew that when I saw someone’s photos of them climbing a mountain or jumping out of plane, that person was not for me!
So there I was sitting back at home looking at the catalogue of the Who’s Who at the Ugly Bug Ball, aka the dating site.
Now I can only talk for myself here but the majority of men’s photos are pretty grim, out of focus, taken in poor light, in a group or sitting on the sofa with a face like a bull dog chewing a wasp and with half their dinner down their shirt!
Things were not boding well for me here.
But ever the optimist a couple of weeks later I arranged another date with a man who wasn’t into parachutes.
But as I sat in the pub with my make up, hair and nice clothes all colour coordinated listening to Def Leppard, he says that at the age of 45 he wants children.
He liked his sexual innuendos too – not appropriate on a first date!
I went home to find several messages saying he wants another date and that we are compatible.
Umm no I don’t think so as I sit and listen to Frank Sinatra!
However he deserved a “Dear John” reply and he was very gracious by not replying to me.
So a minefield of different men were about to be experienced here via the dating scene.
Men with bad photographs, no photographs, group photos (which one are you – you moron?!), photos where the wife had been cropped out of the photo, men with their children on their knees (yes I know you come as a package!), photos with your dear old mum and lastly one with the family pet!
Now that I was starting to dip my foot into the dating scene I also became aware of new terminology that goes along with it.
In the last few years the online terminology has changed, from “sorry you’re not my type – go away!” to being “ghosted”, “benched” or “haunted”.
Social media has a lot to do with our insecurities and, although I’m not an insecure person, I much prefer plain speaking.
It seems the coward’s way out of just accepting that you don’t like each other to being weird and rude.
This is my experience – a middle-aged mother who knows what she wants but had yet to find it.
My searching will be fraught with ups and down, laughter and tears until I met someone who I felt was my equal.