No, the featured image isn’t my way of telling everyone that I have managed (somehow) to sift through the men online and found myself Mr Perfect/Right/Right Now.
I’ve been giving this a lot of thought over the last few weeks and realised that while I had to fill in my supposed end goal on the dating apps I have joined, I wish that they had one that was simply “I don’t know”. As much as I would love to be able to say “I joined with the intention of finding my life partner” or “I joined because I want to find someone that could eventually become more than a friend” these options either don’t exist (the second one) or don’t exactly fit the way I see my life going (the first).
When I first started playing around with online dating (back when Love @Lycos was one of the only online dating sites that didn’t cost anything) I was in my late 20s and I knew just two things about what I wanted from life:
- I didn’t want children
- I didn’t want marriage
Now, bleep years later, I know that these things are still fact (though to be honest the first one is sort of a given at my age anyway), but the goalposts have moved. I am no longer a spry 20-something who has their whole life ahead of her (not that I am ancient and about to kick the bucket at any minute). I have wrinkles around my eyes, some grey hairs on my crown, and would rather stay in on a Friday with a bottle of wine and a movie than head down to a local club and boogie the night away until my feet are ready to fall off.
This time around I was sure that it wouldn’t be easy, though I also didn’t realise that by being a single woman in her 40s I was opening myself up to getting sexist and overtly suggestive messages from men in their 50s and 60s. Now, don’t get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with a man in his late 50s or early 60s sending messages (though the whole “What size bra do you wear? Are you big and busty?” type message get on my nerves and leads to a very swift “you are blocked” action on my part) but my mum is only in her early 60s, and my dad, had he lived, would only have been 65, so the age thing is a bit of an issue for me. Of course, I didn’t expect hunky and young men to send me messages either, but I was sure that I would at least get some interest from men actually in my age group.
In a way I guess that I have been lucky, sort of! I have had messages from men in my age group, though they are looking to make friends, and nothing more. This, for now, suits me just fine as I am still unsure of what it is that I truly want from this experience; though I get the feeling some women are not quite so honest; getting in touch with men (or responding to messages) and pretending that they are looking for platonic relationships when in actual fact they are chasing desperately after Mr Right.
The whole dating experience is one I think that you have to be confident to enjoy, and I am not. As a species we seem to put so much pressure on ourselves to find a mate, settle down, and procreate, that we tend to create this image in our heads of the life we want to live before we’ve actually met Mr or Miss Right. Just today a friend sent me a link to an article that was posted about some absolutely absurd items on Whisper (I had never heard of the site until the Daily Fail started posting so much stuff from it – I am struggling to understand what they think their demographic is). This particular article was about the pressure women put on their partners to ‘pop the question’. This particular article made me MAD!
I know that I have never seen the appeal of getting married and having children (I can just about put up with children from the age of 4 and up, anything younger than that and I run about 10 miles in the other direction as a rule), but the fact that these women are so desperate that they present their partners with ridiculous ultimatums is just giving men who don’t want to fall into that trap enough of a reason to look upon women as desperate, lower-level humans who NEED a man to survive. Why do women do this? In the 21st century is marriage really a necessity any longer? Do we need a ring on our finger to be accepted, or feel part of a group? I am honestly asking here, as I have never felt that desire and don’t think that I am any worse off because I didn’t.
I am sure that you’re reading this and thinking “Wow, she’s gone off on a tangent” but have I? Dating, marriage and happily ever after can be considered quite closely linked. A lot of women join dating sites because, for whatever reason, they still believe in the happily ever after. Some of these women may well have been in a relationship that failed (for whatever reason) and others may well be looking for the first time.
For some, dating sets up this whole list of expectations which, in turn, set up a whole (and in my case very long) list of anxieties.
You start with a feeling of opportunity, and a little glow of hope that this person is going to like you, and then you start down the horrid and very negative trail that leads to “Are they going to like me?” “What are they going to think of this top/that top?” “Are they going to think I’m fat?” “Are they going to notice the spot that’s just developed in the crease of my nose, it looks massive in the mirror?”
We put so much pressure on ourselves to be ‘perfect’ that the moment we meet this ‘date’ all desire to be there is gone, instead your stomach is uncomfortable and rolling so badly that even a coffee is a bad move, and the moment you arrive at the coffee shop or restaurant you’re looking for the quickest exit route (think Lucy in the Big Bang Theory).
Why do we do this to ourselves? It’s not only women that feel this anxiety. In a strange move, I had this exact conversation with someone I met on one of the apps when we talked about meeting up for coffee. I know that it sounds like a really unusual chat up method, but we were just talking about general things, and the subject of dating pressures came up. We both laughed about how nervous the idea of dating makes us and decided that if we were ever going to meet it was going to just be as friends; the idea that you can have a relationship with someone you wouldn’t even like as a friend seems a bit ridiculous to me anyway. Surely it’s logical to actually ‘like’ things about a person you are seeing before you start seeing them like that? I have seen far too many relationships fail because two people with incredible sexual chemistry decide that they are in love (they weren’t) and wanted kids (they didn’t really) so they got together, married, had kids and then only a few years later realised that they had absolutely nothing in common so an entire family was torn apart!
I guess what I’m trying to say is that though I am not sure what I do want out of this dating experience, I know what I don’t want, and I believe that’s half the battle. Those girls who think that the be all and end all of a relationship has to be marriage are missing something vital in their understanding of what makes it work, and I worry for anyone that actually stays in a relationship which has nothing more to it than a rather shallow appreciation for the way someone looks (especially when you consider that looks do – no matter what you do – fade eventually, and when you reach 70 it’s the conversation that will keep the relationship going).
I don’t have anything else to say for now, but I hope that you’re all well and I’ll be back soon with yet another look at the world through my eyes…it might even be about something other than the oddity of online dating in your 40s!