Never Married Fortysomething White Female. Fit, tall, professional with all her own teeth. Not looking for a perfect match but open to the possibility. Still hoping that not all the good men are married or gay.
This is my friend Mel’s byline. She recently joined an online dating site. She refers to it as I Am Desperate.com. She has always said she could never feel comfortable with someone she met online, that there would be a wall of artifice between them, that she couldn’t be sure he was who he said he was. That he might be an axe-wielding maniac or even worse, a fortysomething man who lived with his mother.
Her change of heart came at daybreak as she walked her dogs along a deserted beach. She felt like the only person in the world. All she could hear was the waves lapping and swirling on the shore and the occasional grunt and snuffle from her dogs. It had been a relief to hear a boy call out to his friend, to see them speed by on their BMXs, and to see the runners gather on the promenade.
‘I’m tired of being alone,’ she said. ‘I’m not necessarily lonely, but I’m tired of being on my own. It is wearing me down.’
Mel understands what my sister went through – how the turgid pull of the loneliness can alter your perceptions, complicate your sense of self until you want to scream out : “I am here. I am a real woman. My heart is still beating. I have all my faculties. Won’t someone look my way just this once? Won’t someone stand in front of me and break the grip of my indifference?”
Mel thinks that married people are a little smug, that we don’t adequately grasp the dangers of the dating minefield singles these days have to traverse. She’s right to a certain extent. I don’t understand what it means to be single anymore – I’ve been married for nearly twenty years. I can’t imagine what I’d do if I suddenly, at 43 years of age, found myself single. I would be terrified. In fact, I think I would either become a nun or never leave the house.
It’s the depth and breadth of us that’s hard to reveal to another. What comes next, not what is. It’s easy to talk about where we went to school, our jobs, even our family. It’s easy for someone to assess us by how we look, or what we wear. It’s harder to communicate the essence of ourselves, the labyrinth of quirks and idiosyncrasies that make up who we really are.
If I were suddenly single I would find it difficult to show my true self to another man. So much of our behaviour is tempered, made easier to swallow by a shared history. Behaviour which might seem like a compulsion when standing on its own becomes a much-loved, endearing habit when viewed as part of the whole. I would leave things out. Edit myself continuously so the rough edges would dissolve and soften.
I don’t think it’s so much that married people are smug about the single life. I think it’s that we are incredibly relieved we’re not the ones standing in the trenches.
My friend Gina has been dating online for about 4 years. She’s had two successful relationships in that time, one which lasted for 18 months, but at 45 he had never been married and she has two kids whom he regarded as a bit of a noose about his neck. According to Gina, some men view the online dating sites as a cornucopia, an all- of- their- Christmases- coming- at -once kind of thing. Let’s just say they’ve got one thing on their mind and there’s plenty of it on the menu.
It works the other way too. Another friend, Ricky, has been dating online for two years and has lost count of the number of women he took out on dates, hoping it would turn into a relationship, only to be told they were only in it for the sex. A shy, retiring University lecturer, he was surprised by the level of promiscuity.
Mel knows all this and then some. She wrote an article about it not long ago. Some of the people she interviewed were hilarious, genuine, warm; others were just plain crazy. Yet she is determined to give it a go. I think I am more nervous than she is because I just want the best for her. She is well-read, well-spoken, well-travelled. She tells me how things really are in this world. I want a man to see in her what I can see. I have always wanted that.
Four men answered her ad. We picked the one we thought was most sincere, with the best sense of humour –
I am not an accountant. I am 46 with a trim physique and all my own hair. I like dining out and watching live music. I work in law but don’t hold it against me because if you’ve had an accident at work that wasn’t your fault I might be able to help. Call me. If a woman answers it’s only my mother.
I love this guy and I haven’t even met him. Mel is having dinner with him tonight. She is wearing a kimono she bought in Singapore. It is blue and red. I imagine her walking into the restaurant, leaving him breathless. I am clutching my lucky rock, a tiny piece of onyx I found in the street, saying over and over again : Let him be kind to her. Let him be kind. Let him know that there is no one else on this earth quite like her. My dearest friend.
Like you I am SO GLAD I do not have to date or worry about dating or even try to meet or impress someone. There is a wonderful comfort in being married to a man who knows all your insanity and insecurity and loves you anyway.
I hope it turns out well for her!
I also find it humorous that “older” daters feel the need to mention their teeth and hair…giggle.
GROOVY – so glad to hear from you. I have missed you so much! I know what you mean – I have so many personality quirks I think I would scare a new man off in under 20 seconds. And yes, it is hilarious about the things older daters mention. One guy even mentioned that he got the all clear on his last prostate check. Way too much information!
I wish Mel good luck. I liked her byline and I liked the man’s answer to it. I hope she has a good time.
The online dating world is crazy. Yes, there are crazy people (I had a phone stalker once). Yes, there are shallow people (I met one of those guys who demand full body pictures to see if you are fat). There are weasels too, the kind that But there are nice guys out there too, people who have limited time and no clue where to meet potential partners. Sometimes, even if sparks do not fly, you can meet nice people and have a good time. And that is ultimately the best thing about it, you get to meet othe people just like you, and you feel less lonely.
Sometimes you get to meet someone special, someone with whom you really click. I met my husband Gabriel online. I am really happy we found each other.
I meant to say “weasels, the kind that talk about open relationships to let you know they are hitched but still want to gets in your pants.”
I wish Mel the best. My sister had been trying the on-line thing for awhile, I hope she’ll eventually meet someone.
In this guy’s response he mentioned that if a woman answered it was just his mother, doesn’t that mean he living with her?
INGRID – that is fantastic. I had no idea you met your husband online. I do so love to hear about the success stories. I am delighted for you!
LINDA – I know. That’s what I thought but Mel seemed to think after chatting to him that he meant it as a joke. I hope he did. It’ll be a bit creepy if he invites her back for coffee and his Mum is sitting there watching re-runs of CSI Miami. Yikes!
My sister went through this – she had some really scary experiences before she noticed her new husband there in her backyard the whole time. I have a 41 yr old friend going through it now – my best wishes to your friend – online dating is frightening. I told my husband he better take care of himself b/c I don’t want to raise the kids alone – and I don’t see myself ever entering the dating scene again. Nu-huh!
An endlessly fascinating topic. I mean, come on – romance, sex, love – it’s the stuff of uncountable shows, books, films, etc., and occupies a great deal of space in our minds.
I’m like you, Selma, in that I’m 40 and have been with the same person for 15 years now. But I remember very well my days on the “dating scene”. I ask myself what I would do if I found myself single again and much as I’d like to think that I’d be a man’s man and revel in the freedom, I know inside that it would be very problematic. But I think the stigma has gone out of on-line dating (cf. your friend’s “I am desperate.com” remark). I’ve read that one out of eight marriages in the U.S. are between people who met online. It makes sense. After all, when you meet someone on a dating site you at least know that they’re looking for someone. That’s not always clear when your chatting with someone casually.
As far as I can tell, people decide if they like each other very quickly. When I first heard of “speed dating” I thought it was a joke, until I remembered that pretty much every woman I’ve been with made up her mind about me with lighting speed.
I could go on about this forever. For me, I can’t stand celibacy or sleeping alone, but I’m hardly some sort of Romeo that’s going to go around hustling an endless series of women for sex. This, and of course the desire to find the right person and have a family, drove me to navigate my way through all the crazies (and it’s amazing how many of them there are) and finally to recognize when I’d found someone that I could actually have a future with. Not the perfect person, just someone who has her head screwed on straight (most of the time) and that I can work things out with.
“Still hoping that not all the good men are married or gay.”
HA HA HA
That makes Two Of Us.
Um. I am tried of being SINGLE too. Also, not because I am lonely. I am far from lonely. But I fully apprecaite feeling desperate because she joined an online website. I have considered re-joining, however, all of my online dating stories can be classified as damn near tradgic and or horrifying.
Good Luck to MEL.
If she has any success in this venture, I may sign up again.
I have heard about some wonderful success stories re: online dating and only a few bad ones. I’ve known personally several people who truly seemed to have found their soul mates, via cyberspace.
I wish your friend the very best and hopefully sooner than later. This guy’s reply does sound very nice, I like him from reading it too. Let him be, the real thing and if not….let the right one show up soon.
And Mel, always remember it’s waaaaaaaaaaaay better to be single than to be with the wrong person. Waaaaaaaaaaaay better! Did I get my point across LOL.
Hugs, G 🙂
When I was single, I was scared of it. When I got married, I got scared too and wanted to be single again. Now that I’m single again, I’m scared that I’m liking this a little too much. I’m tired of being scared… and nobody understands. Not even me. Ayayayay!!!
Oh, and I am now tortured with visions of David Caruso wearing his glasses and Daltrey screaming…
“Forty and single, it’s a crime scene!”… YEEEEAAAAAHHHHH!!!!
“Behaviour which might seem like a compulsion when standing on its own becomes a much-loved, endearing habit when viewed as part of the whole.” I love that line. Its so true. We are each our own mosaic comprised of the lovely and the loathesome (well, maybe not loathesome, but you know what I mean. I’m a big fan of alliteration. :))
I’ve tried the online thing, but never had any success. Piggy-backing on something you mentioned in your post. It is absolutely ALL about the essence of a person. …and that’s just really difficult to sense online. Especially with the added pressure of the whole dating thing factored in.
Still, I have heard success stories, so I wish the very best of luck to your friend.
Oh online dating – don’t get me started, I can tell you stories. I wish your friend the best. I do understand how she feels… A lot are in it for the one night stands especially in my age group (the late 20’s and early 30’s) and then you also have the young guys searching for older women with “experience” as they say… It’s like where do you go to find those good men? A lot of my friends tell me that either I’ll meet someone on my trip to Italy or when I’m back in school in September…
I loved this, and both “ads” were awesome. I have a good feeling about someone who can poke fun at themselves, and I hope everything goes well. I can’t wait to hear about it.
Killer and I have talked about how if both of us became single at the same time we’d probably move in together. We’ve been friends since kindergarten, and we rely on each other for all kinds of support. Her ex used to say she was more married to me than she was to him (yet he was the one fooling around with another woman, so, yeah…whatever).
We often joke that we’ll be the strange women in the big old house, with all those cats and dogs, and all the neighborhood kids will dare each other to go up and knock on the door…
It’s been so long since I’ve been alone, I honestly don’t know what I’d do.
I have no clue what I would do if were suddenly single. I’ve been with the man for 16 years. 16! I think the level of intimacy has been created through those years and I’m not sure I could or would want to start over at step one.
I don’t know about online dating. We didn’t have the internet when I was single last. I suppose it exposes you to people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. Sigh. Seems artificial somehow.
Well, I tried the online dating scene. Had a few relationships, although only one that truly engaged me. I fell in love, we met several times (he lived in San Diego – far away from me). We were in constant contact for months – things seemed to be going great and then he began pulling away. I finally ended it when I realised that it just wasn’t going to work. Sure enough, he wasn’t ‘ready’ for a relationship … broke my heart but good last summer (at which time I filled, sanded, painted and then stenciled my garage wall). I had this idea that I could get over him if I did something tiring and creative at the same time. It didn’t really work – I still miss him. He moved on within a few months to another.
Now, at 50, I know that it will be highly unlikely for me to meet anyone. I don’t have the heart anymore to try and start meeting people online again. I’m accepting of that. I have learned to live fully without a partner and have found ways to navigate those moments of loneliness. It’s a different life from what I might have wished for.
I wish your friend luck! Navigating the online dating world is not simple. I’ve learned that what people write doesn’t always translate into reality.
TEXASBLU – there are so many mixed experiences with online dating, aren’t there? That is a lovely story about your sister finding her husband living close by. I love happy endings like that. And I am right with you on nagging my husband to look after himself. Me in the dating scene? Forget it. I would be utterly hopeless.
RWHACKMAN – what excellent points you make. Love definitely makes the world go round. Entire kingdoms have fallen because of it. And I completely agree with you about knowing that most online daters are legitimately looking for a partner. As you say, an endlessly fascinating topic.
MELEAH – I am sorry you have a few bad experiences with online dating. What are the men out there thinking? Sheesh.
Mel decided to try online dating because she kept meeting men at work functions and so on who all turned out to be married (but of course, told her they were single). She figured that the online dating world can’t be any worse than the non-online dating world. I’ll let you know how it goes.
GERALDINE – oh absolutely. My sister’s situation is testament to that. I’ll be very interested to se how this pans out….
CHRIS – you crack me up. Just remember – there’s nothing to be scared of. There’s nothing to be scared of. 😀
HOLLY – the essence is crucial, isn’t it? I go for that with people more than anything. I think the Italians call it being ‘simpatico.’ That is very important to me. You’re right about it being difficult to find in an online setting – there are so many factors imposed on you that it must be a little bewildering and difficult to communicate your true self. Still, there are quite a few successes out there. At the moment I am remaining on the fence.
TBALL – I think your dating future is very bright. Just watch those Italian guys though – they are terrible flirts. I backpacked through Italy in my twenties and was propositioned on every corner. At first it was flattering but eventually I was like: ‘I’m just walkin’ here!’ And when you start school again – Hello! You’re going to be busy, busy, busy. 😉
KAREN – oh how I love your observations of life. I can just picture you and Killer living together and the local kids egging each other on to knock on the door. You’ll create your own urban myth right there. I’m actually all for that. Two of my Great-Aunts lost their husbands during the War and lived together until they died. They were really happy and their house was full of light and laughter. They remained youthful and enthusiastic until the end. Not such a bad scenario really.
NAT – the whole thing unnerves me slightly. It’s not so much that I would worry about being on my own, it’s the pressure from other people. Friends of mine who are divorced or widowed say the pressure to get back on the dating bandwagon is enormous. And many of them are happy with their single state to begin with. A friend actually hired a male escort to take to a family wedding because her parents were giving her so much grief about being single. It was crazy. But on the plus side, the guy was gorgeous. Hooley dooley!
KATE – awww, I feel for you reading this. You are so wonderful that I am mad at him for hurting you like that. If it’s any consolation you have a friend in Sydney who thinks the world of you. And um, yes, I know I’m not a man, but, you know what I mean…..Never say never. You are a catch, my dear. A true catch!
Chris had been a widower for ten years, when he met Helen online. Thing was, neither of them was looking for a relationship; they just both contributed to a bulletin board … and Helen was married anyway.
They’d been corresponding for about three years before they met face to face, and, in the meantime, Helen’s marriage had fallen apart, for reasons that had nothing to do with Chris. Afer another year, they became business partners, and, last year, Helen’s divorce became final and, six months later, she moved in with Chris … they’re to get married around Christmas.
Really, I think it comes when you’ve stopped looking!
TRAVELRAT – that is a wonderful story. Thank you so much for sharing it. You’re right, you know. It does comes when you’ve stopped looking. Awww, that’s made me feel good!
Hope Mel will be lucky,keep us posted.
Online dating seems to be very logical and saves a lot of time.I have been one of the lucky ones that have met wonderful men by twists of fate and would like to believe that things are arranged for us somehow (a romantic),but then my husband of over thirty years was a blind date!
I online dated for a while, had so many terrible experiences though – the men (well the two I met) were lovely online. I met one at a restaurant and he invited me to go beneath the table and give him a good time before we had even ordered, and number two asked me how long it would take to get back to my place after a drink.
And, as far as I can see, round here… all the good ones are gay or attached in some big way. Dammit.
Good luck, Mell, may you find the last good man!
DIAMONDS – I am a romantic too. But I know how rarely love and fate intertwine, so in this day and age, online dating does serve a purpose. I will keep you posted.
BEC – oh, you poor thing. How awful you had to go through that. I’ve known a few people who went through similar things. I can’t believe the lack of respect shown to some women. You know, you are lovely and there is someone out there for you if you want him. It’ll happen unexpectedly. Don’t give up.
Go get him Mel!! I have my fingers firmly crossed for you. I feel I know you a little bit through Selma’s words in many, many posts, and you really deserve someone who will adore you for who you are.
DAOINE – I have a post coming up about this. It went well but of course, only time will tell. Thanks for your kind wishes. XX
First up Selma, Mel is already a lucky woman for having such a great and loyal friend in you.
I do hope it goes well for her because it isn’t much fun being lonely. I have met some wonderful people on line and though I wasn’t looking for a date, sometimes you can meet people who start off as friends and then who knows what can develop from there. I think I would rather be friends with someone first anyway and then you are more likely to know the real person and not the one trying to impress you.
GYPSY – oh, it is so important to be friends first. It lays such a good foundation. I think I have stayed married for as long as I have because my hubby and I do like a good chat. We are mates. It would be hell for me being with someone I couldn’t talk to. I do like a bit of a natter.
My hubby’s brother met his fiance’,online. e-harmony. She lived in North Carolina, but a bit away from him. They commuted each week to see each other. After he proposed(nearly nine months after they met)and she accepted,she applied for job near him, and has now moved in with him.They are exquisitely happy. Known each other now over a year, I believe. Marrying next January!
LISA – yay, a happy ever after story. That is so encouraging. I am so glad for them. That is so romantic.
It’s really exciting–and here’s an interesting post-script:
She’s a veterinarian, and of course
had to look for a new practice, as she was relocating to where Arthur lives. She did not have to look too far…because…tah-dah:
One of Arthur’s friends is married to a very successful veterinarian, and she invited Arthur’s fiance’ to join the practice!
LISA – now that is what you call happenstance. How wonderful!
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