1. The Secret Diary of an Internet Dater aged 53 and three quarters

I lead a full and happy life, have great friends and a loving family, I do work that I love, but sometimes, just sometimes, it would be lovely to have a man in my life.  I’ve probably watched too many ghastly Jennifer Aniston films, but I live in hope of being swept off my feet by a George Clooney look-alike who treats me like a goddess and worships me daily.

I want to be Celia Johnson in the station buffet with something in her eye,  Trevor Howard saying “let me take a look at that, I’m a Doctor”, Rachmaninov playing in the background and a steam train rushing into a tunnel.

Life can be ordinary but I want romance. It’s not too much to ask for is it?

I’m not looking for someone to whom I’m joined at the hip, I don’t want someone interfering with me when I’m trying to do pottery, wear matching zip-up cardies and go on tandem bike rides, but it would be lovely to find someone  who will chuckle at my little jokes, sample my cooking (a brave man indeed), appreciate all my quirks….. actually as I’m writing this I realise I haven’t a clue what I’m looking for….but the truth is I do miss a cuddle and it would be good to have someone to share stuff with sometimes.

I don’t really believe in a soul-mate (or sole-mate as I read on someone’s profile the other day, definitely something fishy about him or maybe he just likes feet!). I don’t believe in love at first sight either. I reckon that if you went into a room with a dozen men, the chances are you’d get on well enough with at least one of them not to want to kill him.

It’s not easy to meet people when you’re in your early fifties though. Unless you’re lucky and meet someone at the supermarket checkout or a man drops out of the sky and lands at your feet, you may find yourself, like me, in the wasteland of internet dating.

Three years ago a friend of a friend met her husband on the internet. As our mutual friend Jane put it: “It’s really easy, although you might have to kiss a few frogs first. Think of it as practice, like when you go for an interview. Ellen went out with a couple of men who weren’t very suitable and then she met Derek… he was clean, solvent and didn’t have any nasty habits”. It all sounded easy to me, although a bit like shopping on Ebay and about as romantic!

I signed up to Human Ebay, hopeful, optimistic  but definitely not desperate. Three years later I’m still there, aged 53 and still single, a little cynical but hopefully a little wiser.

If you’re a woman reading this, I thought I’d share my dating experiences, not because I’m qualified to dispense advice (far from it as you’ll see) but, if nothing else, it will give you a really good laugh and many of you will empathise I’m sure.

If you’re a man reading this, you may or may not recognise yourself! I’ve changed some names to protect the idiots, but not all (depends on where you are on the W**ker Scale)!  I’d just like to say here that I don’t believe that all men are W**kers. I’ve actually met some really lovely guys, some of whom have become good friends and who are not in the least bit W**kery. For some reason though, there are a lot of strange men on dating sites in my experience. Maybe that’s why they’re single!

Having taken the plunge and decided to put myself on Human Ebay, I was faced with my first challenge – my User Name. Should I use my real name (too risky – someone at work might see it, worse – my soon-to-be-ex husband might see it and would laugh) or make up something interesting?

I decided to make up something interesting – but what? Do user names really matter? I thought it would be nice to choose a name that reflects my character. Something that shows that I’m witty, intellectual, independent.  How on earth does one do that with a name? Will anyone care anyway?

I mean if I chose something like Sexy Babe, (1) I don’t really know if I am (it’s been a while) and (2) it’s a lot to live up to on a first date.

Ok, how about something more homely? Something that will show that I’m not averse to any physical contact, but I’m not going to have rampant sex on the pavement outside the George & Dragon  two minutes after meeting.  Something like Cuddles4U perhaps?  No, sounds like I’m motherly, smell of wee and have a lot of cats.

What about something like The_1_4_U?   Hmmm, sounds a little desperate, I don’t want anyone to think they’re dating Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, and I saw something with a similar name in Lakeland Plastics for getting stubborn stains out.

An hour of contemplating later I decided maybe I’d just use my name, Ruth.  Easier said than done.  Ruth had already been taken and I was given the option of using Ruth1286759; can there really be that many Ruths out there? I’d never remember it (I’m thinking of having my bank pin number tattooed on my wrist) so I decided to be clever and combine my first and middle name, Barbara.

Yet another hour later, filling in all my other personal details, I clicked the button confirming my membership, realising, too late, that I had created someone called Rubarb.

Now you might think that that would be the end of it, but I was then faced with the prospect of writing my profile. Up to 2,000 characters “describing yourself, your interests and your ideal first date”.

Hmmm 2000 words….practically a dissertation and nearly as stressful! Now I’ve thought long and hard about writing my profile. Apart from my photograph (and more about that later) it’s my chance to show all those lovely men out there what a witty raconteur I am.

I decided to put off writing anything on mine until I’d had a look at what other people had written.  Since I couldn’t access other women’s details, I bravely clicked on the first of many men’s profiles…….

Perhaps it shows lack of imagination, but for a first date it seems that hundreds of men enjoy “cuddling on the sofa with a glass of wine and a dvd”. Now I’m sorry lads, I can do that with the dog, and I’d cheerfully swap the cuddle for a bar of Galaxy.  If I’m going to endure an hour having my face threaded and my legs waxed beforehand, I expect more from a date than an evening on a saggy sofa with a glass of vino collapso and the World Rugby Highlights.  Apart from anything, I like to get to know someone a bit better before I go on their sofa!

Others have written that they find sharing a bag of chips romantic. Not on your nelly! I might share chips with a man at a later date but until I know  that he always washes his hands when he’s been to the loo, there’s no way he is sticking his fingers into my bag of chips! Aside from which, who told him that it’s romantic to share a bag of chips on a first date? Why did he believe them?

On Human Ebay there’s an option to click on “what you’re looking for”. There’s nothing along the lines of “Let’s see how it goes shall we?”  The choices are Long Term (hmmm, Fatal Attraction again), Activity Partner (um….what kind of activity? ), Intimate Encounter (ah, the last one obviously means sport of some kind, definitely not ticking that one. What’s this intimate encounter though? Would any woman in her right mind admit this unless she was touting for business at Ipswich Docks?), Hang Out (What does that mean exactly? Isn’t that what teenagers do in bus shelters? Would I need to turn up with 10 B&H and a pack of Haribos?) The last category was Dating (that’s what I put, seemed the most reasonable given that I didn’t fit any of the other categories and hopefully it would cover all eventualities).

It also suggests “If you want to be successful and not waste your time do this: 1. Talk about your hobbies. 2. Talk about your goals/aspirations 3. Talk about yourself and what makes you unique. 4. Your taste in music.”

  1. Hobbies? What hobbies?  Extreme knitting? Bungee jumping? Aha, reading the classics (but someone might test me on it and they’ll know I’ve only read the back cover of Northanger Abbey). Will anyone be impressed that I like Sudoku? Does walking the dog once a week count as sport?
  2. Goals and aspirations – Climbing Kilimanjaro? reaching the second level of Nintendo Brain Training? At the moment, writing my profile!
  3. What makes me unique? Perhaps my penchant for peanut butter and marmite on toast, the fact that I loathe housework and cooking with a passion?
  4. Music – is it cool to like Girls Aloud and Dusty Springfield?

Ok job done (no I’m not going to show you my profile, you might go peeking). More to come…..

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6 thoughts on “1. The Secret Diary of an Internet Dater aged 53 and three quarters

  1. Brilliant, I’m in the middle of writing a book about some of the horrors you describe; I’ll get our mutual friend Sally to let you have a copy. Human eBay? haaa! It’s like online shopping at Waitrose – I’m surprised they don’t have an “add to basket icon”!

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