By Daisy Mae.
It all began as a blue light emergency when my 27 year marriage fell apart. However the catalyst for further disaster was losing both my parents soon after, in quick succession, to cancer. I managed the day job as a hospital doctor in the NHS but having had a busy, hectic, noisy household, I now found myself suddenly alone.
Do you remember Dougal the dog from the Magic Roundabout? A woolly mammal spinning round and round on the spot, and not knowing which way to go? Well that was me – I was having my very own Dougal the dog moment!
Now I’m not one to dwell on the past, far more important to seize the day! Focus on the here and now. I realised I had been coasting —or perhaps ghosting— through the first half century of my life. Not anymore. It was time to say out with the old and in with the new and I wanted someone to share that adventure with me.
I hated not having anyone to go on holiday, or to a dinner party with, or simply to welcome me home after a long day at work. I wanted a companion.
But dating when you’re 52 years old is very different to when you’re 22 years old and you’re not going to bars or starting new jobs and meeting new people every day. So I found myself logging on to one of the innumerable dating sites. And yes it was daunting, humiliating even especially to think my friends, neighbours and work colleagues could log on, see my picture, and read my profile.
I like my privacy. But I did realise, eventually, that most people have better things to do and the only people actually looking on, and paying to be members of, dating sites are people looking for real dates.
The next hurdle was writing the profile. How to make myself sound interesting and upbeat especially when in truth my self-confidence and self-esteem were quite low? Taking a selfie and uploading it, when I loathe having my picture taken and for years have done everything I can to avoid it.
Trying to decide who and what I was looking for and in reality ‘sell’ myself to them… I learnt to first look quite critically at other peoples’ profiles for guidance and soon thought of myself as some kind of internet dating detective.
Although it might seem obvious, it still came as a huge shock to realise that so many people lie on dating sites. They lie about age, height, hair colour etc. Most men I came across put up a photo that was either taken of them twenty years ago, or had to be, just had to be, a photo of somebody else! It was all too common to go for a date and be unable to spot my man in a crowded room, precisely because of this.
This was such a disappointment, especially when we had exchanged possibly hundreds of emails. And also what was the blooming point if the end game was to meet in person?
However, on the positive side I found the dating experience quite up-lifting as most of my dates wanted to see me again which was great for my self-esteem. The email banter was often hilarious and I found myself rushing to the computer for the next round of fun. In truth I became quite addicted to the whole process, logging in first thing when I woke up, last thing before I went to sleep and even in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep.
I became braver at approaching possible suitors and less worried about being rebuffed. And as I was serious about finding myself a soul-mate I ended up joining four different dating sites and I have to tell you managing four sites was a time-consuming occupation!
I should also point out that, as far as I was concerned, this was about internet dating – not internet mating! I’m not prone to one night stands, and was wary at my age of the “notch bed post gatherers!” There were plenty of offers of casual sex, but nothing I couldn’t rebuff. For me, the internet dating was all about the chase and not about quick gratification.
The disappointments were however plentiful. How often after a relentless exchange of emails and phone calls did I travel, sometimes long distances, hopeful this would be the success I was looking for, only to find the minute I set eyes on this person, I knew they were not for me? I sometimes cried all the way home. But, my optimistic self insisted I brush myself down and continue.
I discovered it’s best to treat the whole experience as a game, it’s no good thinking each date will definitely be Mr Perfect. So I decided going to meet these people was a fun thing to do on the whole and better than being home alone in front of the TV. Best just to take each experience at face value and if anything came of it, ever, that would be a bonus.
I am aware that when you start an email dialogue with a face on a screen it is surreal. There’s something about the blank page and your imagination that tempts you to reveal too much about yourself too soon.
It’s easy to build up quite early on a romantic image of this person you have never met only to have your hopes dashed to smithereens when you do meet them in the flesh. So prepare yourself as it’s rather different to meeting someone in a bar swapping numbers and then getting to know them in a I guess ‘natural’ way.
Overall internet dating did change me. I found my inner self again and my individual identity I had somehow lost along the way. I laughed at the situations I found myself in and I grew in confidence. I am healthier and happier now than I have been for a very long time.
How can I sum up the experience of Internet dating in midlife? It is without doubt, a very convenient way of meeting people you would otherwise never know existed. If I could choose one phrase that says it all, this is it.
My new life is in technicolour, whereas my old life was simply black and white.
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Daisy Mae lives in the South of England and as Daisy_234 shares many similar professional, life, and dating, experiences with her protagonist. For this reason she has chosen to write under a pen name. Her debut novel Dating Daisy (published by Clink Street Publishing 25th July 2017 RRP £10.99 paperback and RRP £3.99 ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores.