By Anna Vuoti
Some time ago I activated one of my profiles on a dating platform. As a profile picture I chose a recent selfie that I took after a weekend full of tears and depression. Sometimes the spontaneous ones turn out best, even I liked it. The men who took a look at it clearly found it sympathetic because I kept on getting likes and messages – more than I could handle.
A woman like me could wonder why on earth anybody would like to contact me. 54 years is a respectable age and my looks aren’t the freshest anymore. There are plenty of other insecurities but let’s not concentrate on them now.
When I first started online dating, I was full of curiosity. What happened on the platform, would someone contact me, what kind of men were there, would I meet my next Prince on a White Horse there? Boy, have I met men! My curiosity has been quenched to a certain extent after all these years. I still think people are interesting in general and men in particular.
I have met old and young, surgeons of renowned hospitals by the lake Geneva and managers from Zürich, unemployed and students of psychology. I learnt early on, that a walk and a cup of coffee would very efficiently show, how compatible we were. Declining a second date with a man who did not attract me in any way, was a fair thing to do. Rather brutally honest than leading a man on thinking this could be something. The truth is that the gut feeling very rarely led me astray. This was a learning process, because I had always listened to my head rather than my intuition.
Since I live quite far away in the Pre-Alps, meeting people isn’t always that easy. But even my slow internet connection is enough to get into contact with lots of people. I love that. I don’t need to meet people eye to eye, I like getting to know them when and where I want after the online connection has been established.
This brings me to another point. Being afraid of online dating is not a good starting point because it is a false conception. Women have the position of power. There are almost always more men than women online. This means, women can choose to meet who they want, talk to who they want and stop conversations whenever they want. And when things get too hot, women can either hide or delete their profile. I think it’s wonderful! Women can be as much in control as they choose. This boosted my self-confidence tremendously without making me cocky.
Where I live men don’t give compliments. Women are totally starved of admiration. One gets used to it. Especially as a mature woman. We become the grey background population that is not noticed until a man needs someone to get rid of his frustration. It so often happens that a 40+ man screams at an older woman in public. It has happened to me and I know of several women to who also experienced this. When they can’t yell at their wives, they let it out in public. Very peculiar.
Not so on online platforms. The compliments keep on coming without end. One can receive them exactly according to one’s disposition but this is an excellent place to learn to receive well-meant compliments with grace. I’m not a beauty, I never was. But the truth is, we all are pretty one way or another. Men feel freer to express admiration of the aspects of our appearance they find pretty much easier online. Believe it or not, they see the goodness in your eyes, the passion and playfulness even in normal selfies. The inappropriate comments can be deleted along with the men who express them. This also is a growing process for me. Take what you think is genuine and nice, get rid of the rest. I have learnt to distinguish between the fakes, perverts and the quite normal guys looking for company.
The male mind is a curious thing. Not complicated, not at all. Just so different to women’s. Sometimes I think we dismiss the comments and ways of behaviour of men as disgusting, affronting and downright wrong. Online dating has taught me to show compassion to men who aren’t that used to conversing in the way women do. There is, more often than not, a good but shy heart behind the funny ways they communicate. Many men tell me that they are relieved to talk to a normal woman (whatever that is) because they have met several fakes, prostitutes and individuals who are only after money and financial support.
It’s not only women who suffer in relationships. The stories I have heard of women who are beautiful, wonderful wives and who decide that they don’t want any sex after they turn 40. What is a man to do? The less interested partner always decides what happens or doesn’t happen in bed. All too often men are the ones who suffer. One of the ways they show affection is through sex and that is taken away from them.
There are many men who decide to at least talk to other women online, at least to have someone to listen to their part of the story. It makes me so angry that women are the victims when their husbands find a connection outside! Sex is important to men and to some women too, even after 50. But as already mentioned, the one who wants less sex is the one who decides how much happens in bed. Listening and reading the stories has taught me more about a man’s mind than 28 years of marriage did. Many have become my friends even though we haven’t met for years. We listen, we encourage, we support, we cry and feel the troubled heart beating. There is so much loneliness out there.
Loneliness is why online platforms are so full. And everybody is hoping that one of the sympathetic faces is the One. I know many people who have found their love leading to marriage and long-lasting relationship this way. Even a close friend of mine found his 60+ girlfriend this way. So there is hope. With a good portion of compassion and a sense of humour there is nothing to stop women having a great time online.
Daring to start is a wonderful boost to one’s self-esteem and when choosing wisely, nothing can stop you from growing as a person. Because that’s why we are all here, aren’t we?