The last time I dated, I was a fickle fifteen year old, snogging a different boy at youth club every week.
It’s tough being a middle aged, mother of two, starting out on the dating scene again. For starters, where am I supposed to meet a new man when the highlight of my week is a trip to the supermarket or the local Parish Council meeting? And another thing; do I really want to subject myself to all the treading on eggshells, getting to know each other business that goes with the whole dating malarkey?
A few good friends and my brother found their partners on-line and encouraged me to have a try, saying the worst that might happen is I won’t find ‘the one,’ but I might have some nice coffees, or meals, and some decent male company, and it might make me feel alive again!
Put like that it didn’t seem a bad idea. I knew what I wanted and definitely what I didn’t want! I felt ready for the next stage of my journey and hadn’t given up on the possibility of finding love again altogether. And so I decided it might be good to see if I could find some ‘virtual’ company to while away the long, lonely evenings when the boys had gone to bed.
A few months down the line and it’s been interesting to say the least. On-line dating doesn’t have the stigma it used to these days. It’s safe, private, you simply punch in your pre-requisites, how far you’re prepared to travel and ‘search’ to find your ideal matches. The computer does the rest for you.
It’s been a bit of a roller coaster if I’m honest. It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted. Self-promotion goes with the territory for a writer but it’s a different story altogether selling yourself to a man, highlighting your good points and trying to make yourself sound vibrant, funny and stand out from the crowd.
When I first started, there were times when it felt quite gloomy, scrolling down the laptop at endless profiles of Hagrid look-alikes or topless men, half-blinded by the flash as they pointed their mobiles phones in the bathroom mirror. And you’ve never seen so many men who want to straddle their motorbikes or proudly show off their polishing prowess on their Ford Capri’s.
It can be daunting, mustering the bravery to send your photo to some gorgeous guy who you never hear from again or chatting to someone on-line several times only to find they disappear as quickly as they showed up. However, other times, I’ve found the whole psychology of it fascinating. On-line dating is like doing the lottery. It has to be fate or serendipity that makes your cursor hover over a particular profile that on first appearance has no photo and no written profile other than the basics. And how does it happen that a guy who lives a few hundred miles away finds you when he was looking for someone in a twenty mile radius of his home and ten years younger? One of my friends found her husband on-line and discovered he only lived a few streets away!
It’s hard to know what makes us connect with a particular person. I confess. When I first started, I admit I probably viewed most men as a prospective husband. However, I’ve had messages from men I’d probably never have contacted myself yet they somehow found me and turned out to be lovely and within no time we’re messaging each other most days. Now, I simply enjoy the company and since I’ve made some friends along the way, my pre-conceptions and ‘ideal’ criteria have fallen by the way-side. Lots of men share the same values as me and can make me laugh and if nothing more, it proves that genuine and lovely men do still exist.
In the same way each of my friends give me different things, I’ve found different qualities appeal. It’s not necessarily a physical attraction that makes me connect with someone. I’m not shallow, so looks-wise as long as they’re somewhere between Shrek and Brad Pitt, I’m happy. Sometimes I find the lure of an open, sensitive face irresistible , or soulful eyes draw me over the laptop screen. Then there’s the clown who makes me laugh out loud with a funny quip, or someone has something in his profile that strikes a chord. I’ve even had a couple who have written me poetry!
It’s funny how you find people. People come into our lives for a reason. Some stick around. Some flit out again; butterfly friends. They all teach us something, if we’re open enough to learn from them… because one thing’s for sure, you can’t find your soul-mate if you haven’t found yourself…
Ahh, I can hear you all asking – have I found any soul-mate prospects?
It struck me in a very short space of time that about ninety percent of men on the site mentioned the ‘S’ word. Finding a soul-mate to spend the next twenty-three years with may prove harder. It’s what most of us on the site are probably searching for, and yes, I’ll let you in on a secret. There is one potential but we’ve only been on one (nine and a half hour!) date so far.
The trouble is, it’s not just about finding ‘the one.’ The timing has to be right too. For both parties. It’s important to be about the same distance along your journey. And then there’s the distance in miles, and all the practical stuff, like kids, and homes, and lives. Hey, I told you this dating malarkey is a lottery.
On-line dating is somehow symbolic. It’s as if by registering, you’re declaring to yourself, ‘It’s time to move on. I’m ready.’ Of course some of us are, and some of us aren’t ready. Yet. It’s progress. Baby steps. Giant leaps. It’s as much about finding yourself as it is finding a new relationship. Time will tell and I promise to keep you all posted!
In the meantime, I’d love to hear how you met your ‘soul-mate’ and especially if you have experiences (or tips) for on-line dating!
Come on then, spill the beans. This is the stuff of books, you know! I’m certainly enjoying the research and storing up some of the material…