Dating this side of the Millennium, do I dare?
Starting to date again can be daunting, and frankly, who really wants to, once a long-term relationship comes to an end? You may have spent years taking each other for granted, dreading the weekends and holidays when you're unable to avoid each other. And physically, well, literally, the cliché really was just on birthdays and the odd anniversary.
Then when you’ve been on your own for some time, and have adjusted to the dust settling around you, you’ll notice, as I did, that there is time to fill, and you might actually have a craving for intimacy and affection.
However, I’m an older woman who likes younger men. In my late forties with a mummy tummy, cellulite from neck to ankle and prefer to be seen by candlelight if any kind of clothing is to be taken off.
Dating this side of the millennium is very different to how it was before. We swipe to meet someone, endlessly message, maybe exchange numbers and then move over to text or WhatsApp. After all of this, you may arrange to actually go on a date. This, of course, could all fall
through though before you’ve even got that far, as dating via apps is extremely fast and furious, and there is more than likely someone else chomping at the bit to meet within the hour if you can’t.
I am a single mum who co-parents with my ex, we have a great custody arrangement and I get three nights off a week. Between friends, theatre, movies and general ‘stuff’ I try to fit dates in within those times, but not every guy has the patience to wait until a week on Thursday when I might next be free.
As the kids say, there can be that FOMO feeling. I’ve now been dating for over three years, and at the start I took it much more seriously than I do now. I was comparing it to when you met someone years ago in a pub, exchanged numbers, went out a few times, maybe it led to a relationship or I went back to being single. It’s definitely taken me
some time to get used to how people communicate and treat each other now.
Mostly, the lack of manners, even typing this makes me feel pre-war. You could be happily messaging someone for hours, days, weeks getting to know them, then suddenly they disappear off the face of the earth. This can happen too when you’ve been on a few dates with ‘Ghosting’ - a real and infuriating part of the current dating world. I think because we spend the whole time texting someone rather than having a real conversation, it makes it very easy to simply ignore somebody too. Rather than being told ‘I’ve met someone else’, ‘I’m actually married’, ‘I’m just not that into you’. They will never read or send you another message ever again. Move on. Definitely not FOMO, more a lucky escape.
There are a gazillion people on dating apps, and once you’ve got over the initial fear of using them, the world is literally your oyster. You’ll be juggling conversations with handfuls of potential partners in no time, whilst also maintaining a coffee morning chat in your kids class WhatsApp group.
I meet people when I travel, not with the intent to spend the night with (but, sometimes), or thinking ‘how amazing would it be to have a partner in New York, I’d always have a 'free' place to stay?’, but to go and have drinks and a conversation with someone in a city where I don’t know anybody.
Dating has been amazing for my confidence. After ending my relationship, I wasn’t sure if I’d be considered attractive to anyone again. But I’ve met some fabulous people over the past three years, had the best nights out, and learnt a lot about myself. What I would and wouldn’t want from a partner, or indeed, if I ever want to have a partner again. Dating this side of the Millennium, do I dare?
I’ve also had some shockingly terrible dates, and am sure these are the stories you and your girlfriends really want to hear aren’t they?
Cat is a forty something, single mum who lives in North London with her ten year old daughter. She is writing her first book about the roller-coaster ride that is online dating, post millennium and post her own break-up. Life’s curve balls can really throw you, and starting over has certainly been a journey of self discovery. It wasn’t until her girlfriend’s - who enjoyed her stories so much and encouraged her to write them down that she decided to share them.
The dating research continues...