” the mental health nurse asked me, without any sense of irony.Which would have helped the situation, given that I wasn’t his patient but his date.
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”, at which point I nearly spat my crab linguine all over his bad jacket.
I share this anecdote about my delving into the online dating world in order to remind myself that humour is the only way to keep this surreal world in perspective.
At 52, two years down the road from separating after 20 years with the same man in my life, and the mum of two teenage children, I must admit that my dating websites are just a bit mad. But friends have been telling me, over and over – “it’s time”. “Within days I am a cynical, self-pitying, single-for-life saddo myself and, therefore, destined for nothing but me and my Sauvignon future. Miraculously, he is my age, three years divorced, works in advertising, decent looking; although he has a bit of an overattachment to cycling Lycra – a common indicator of a Sminor (I am now even making my own acronyms up: separated males in need of a ride).
As if it’s some rite of passage that just has to be gone through once the sitting up all night, snivelling into a Sauvignon phase has passed. Again, I had followed all my pals’ advice and not “chatted” online too much, arranged to meet for coffee in a public place, told a friend where I was going, whom I was meeting as well as everything I knew about him so far.
My kids know that I am daring to date again, otherwise I probably wouldn’t be writing this article.
They are vaguely embarrassed, but also get that I need to move on to happier times.
Which is the other reason why I pen these thoughts.
Because although I wish that there were other ways to meet people, I am glad that I am dating online now and want to encourage other menopausal mams to do so. I have learned not to become obsessed by it, I have learned to err on the side of caution with some, and throw caution to the wind with others.
So, like most women my age, I sat up into the early hours of the morning, Sauvignon still in hand, writing a profile, putting up pics, handing over money, and hoping to God, as I pressed upload, that no one I knew would see me. I felt sick before we met at the coffee shop, but when Mr Lycra stood up, smiling, and thankfully not in Lycra, gave me a peck on the cheek, it all suddenly felt okay.
Within minutes I got “likes”, “winks” and a couple of emails and I must admit to laughing out loud. The men who like me are, on average, 65, look rough as hell as they pose topless in front of their bathroom mirrors. Three months later we are inseparable, planning a week away together, he has met my kids, regularly sends me flowers, can handle the menopause word, doesn’t mind that I haven’t had a boob job or Botox, and may even meet my mother. We actually had two dates; on the second one we snogged, I fell into a whole fantasy about the joys of having a bf, until I got the silent treatment and was finally told by text that he didn’t want to commit. Chucked, as it was in my teenage day, which seems more relevant, given that I had been acting like a teenager. I manage to weedle out the 50-somethings, and even late 40-somethings, and go for a few more coffees. I had a picnic in a park until sunset with one guy, went to a gallery with another, talked about bird watching with one and meteorology with another.
Getting a little bit of a thrill like someone had just asked me to dance at the disco. Or, at the other extreme, have endless photos of them skiing, skateboarding, skydiving or scuba diving and telling me how active and adventurous they are. I had a couple of dates with an osteopath who told me what gorgeous gastrocnemius muscles I had, but that my sartorius needed stretching.