Post date analysis

Today I had my first ever day time/ coffee shop date. It was as much to do with convenience as anything based on two hectic parenting and work schedules but in reality it worked really well – no chance of letting alcohol do any talking (Latte doesn’t have quite the same voice in my head 🙂 ), and a chance to see the other person in broad daylight which is never a bad thing.

I went in expecting – hmm, not sure really. As I said in my previous post I had my reservations based on pre-conceived ideas I got from looking at his dating profile – pictures in particular – which give off the impression of being perhaps a bit of a player?

We’d had so little communication between us as well – I basically just took his lead and his texts were perfunctory so we agreed to meet, we imparted our availability, agreed on a date last Monday, then didn’t communicate at all until last night (Thursday) when I texted to ask if he still wanted to meet (half expecting him to say ‘thanks but no thanks’). He said he did, we agreed on a time and a place and that was it.

We met at 12pm in a little coffee shop about ten minutes drive from both of us and when I arrived a couple of minutes late he was already there and immediately got up, kissed me ‘continental style’ (he used to live in Spain & Italy) and went off to buy me a drink.

I was so relieved that he actually looked like his pictures after the last guy! We got talking, there were no awkward silences, he didn’t dominate the conversation although he probably did do more of the talking than me but that’s OK because I was super nervous.

He is interesting, we are completely on the same page politically, he also has an acrimonious relationship with his ex which, whilst not a good thing per se, was kind of re-assuring – I hate talking to people who have super-amicable relationships with their ex-partners – it makes me feel like even more of a failure!

He works nights, four on, four off as an aircraft engineer and he has his kids (7 and 11) living with him for the whole of his four off. He seems to genuinely enjoy the time he spends with his kids and described how happy he feels when he sees them again after four days apart.

He has a creative side and it sounds like he enjoys cooking as much as I do and to about the same level!

I found him attractive although there was no real flirting as such but maybe that was because we were in a coffee shop and actually, if he does like me as much as I like him then that is a really refreshing and respectful way of behaving on a first date.

I could also tell that he is a gentleman because he jumped up to open the door for a lady coming in with a toddler and a baby in a pram at one point and I got the feeling that that was his style, not that he was just doing it to create a good impression.

So now we’re in that weird ‘after-date’ place where presumably he probably has about as much idea of whether I like him as I have in reverse. All I have to go on is that he suggested we meet up again and I agreed and said next time we should have an evening date. We haven’t made an actual date as such.

If he does like me then we are going to have our work cut out for us trying to find mutually suitable times but I’m guessing that we would figure it out somehow. He would have the same problem with anyone and so would I and at least we understand exactly what challenges the other is going through.

I’m still kind of buzzing from the experience – whilst it’s not the same kind of buzzing you get from being with someone for the first time who you know feels the same way, or having properly kissed, held hands or anything, it’s a tempered kind of cautious little happy feeling.

I’ve got a lot going on at the moment socially (weirdly!), having enjoyed the Meetup social I attended last weekend and put my name down for two more events in May – an Ed Sheeran tribute in a pub and a stand up comedy and pizza night, plus I have a curry & practice run night hike next Friday with my team for the Light the Lakes experience in June.

My parents have agreed to have the kids for all three of those nights in anticipation of the husband actually playing a role in the kids’ lives at some point (obviously not with any kind of pre warning).

Is there enough time left over to start some kind of relationship with this guy (let’s call him The Scot for now – he’s Scottish)?

I’m dying to know whether he likes me or not. I’ll probably text him later on tonight and see what I get back. In the meantime, I’ve got a Teddy Bear’s Picnic to attend…

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Support and the single mum

I read back over my last two posts this morning and sighed. Both of my readers must be beginning to wonder if I’m succumbing to schizophrenia. The thing is, it is just too easy to feel that things are on track during your happier, calmer, more organised, more harmonious moments, only to realise that, yes indeed, sh*t happens and it’s not going to just stop happening because you had the afternoon off and read a good book.

Since last Wednesday (the evening of my last documented crash and burn parenting moment) things have calmed back down considerably. I have had the kids with me for the last six nights (and the whole weekend) and they haven’t seen their dad at all in that time. Notably my seven year old’s bad behaviour was at it’s height those first two nights.

We spent the weekend with my parents and it was Mother’s Day (UK) on Sunday so my Mum helped my eldest choose and buy me a lovely present (a new handbag – something which he’d heard me say I needed as my old one is falling apart).

They brought me a cup of tea in bed and later on my mum and I took them out for a little visit to a local attraction and in the afternoon we had a roast dinner and I went down to the recreation ground with them and we played football together as it was a sunny day.

I went along to their school this morning to see my eldest perform in his little ‘school of rock’ style concert and he was so happy to see me and came over and gave me a hug on his way back to class.

Their dad is picking them up this afternoon and giving them tea before bringing them back at 5.30 in time to wind the day up before bed. Hopefully that won’t be long enough for the poison to seep back in.

I’ve also got my appointment with the headmistress tomorrow afternoon and it’s going to feel strange opening up to her when things feel like they are back on track but I definitely think it can’t hurt to just sound her out about the problems I’ve had with behaviour lately and particularly because it does seem to be tied in with extended periods of contact with their father. (Worryingly he has them next overnight Thursday and overnight Friday after school too but fortunately my mum will be over on Saturday afternoon so I won’t be alone).

Having the support of my parents makes me realise how lucky I am. It’s nice to know that they will always be there for me unconditionally, no matter what (as long as they are fit and able to do so obviously). And I have been reflecting on the nature of ‘support’ – what I need and who from.

It would be nice to be able to support and in turn be supported by the husband when it comes to parenting but clearly that isn’t going to happen. When I talk about my ex-boyfriend/another boyfriend/potential partner I use the term ‘support’ only in terms of emotional support for me – to boost my confidence when it comes to handling my own FML moments. Because that’s what partners do isn’t it? Regardless of what your FML moments may be, it’s nice to know that your ‘significant other’ has got your back and has some empathy; that they are there to give you a hug when you feel like you might break.

Thinking about this subject in these terms makes me realise that I’m just not ready to be in another relationship right now. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a partner – someone with whom to give and take that amazing gift of love and laughter and company and fun, share physical intimacy, touch, kiss, plan together for an even better future.

But I need for this divorce to be over. I need to feel more in control at home with the support of family and the school. And I need to give myself time to recover from loss and heartbreak and time to revel in the little pleasures of single life – everything from suiting myself when it comes to choosing and planning social activities, to living in my own home, decorating as I please and entertaining who I like, when I like.

I am slowly coming to complete acceptance of and peace with the recent break up (just three weeks ago). Time moves so fast that soon I will be looking back and four months will be a drop in the ocean. Plus with time comes some more sense to see that relationship for what it was – just a lovely chapter in my life, full of all those little things I talk about above, but ultimately with someone who wasn’t right for me – if he had been right for me then he would still be here.

Which of course doesn’t mean that I don’t still have pangs and find myself scrolling his FB page, or looking back at our shared photos or checking to see whether he’s still checking out our WhatsApp thread (he is, several times a day). And it doesn’t stop me from having weak moments where I wonder whether to offer myself to him completely no strings as a friend ‘with benefits’ (which I’m not going to do – how messy would that get?). However much you tell yourself you could switch it off emotionally and disengage should he suddenly get into a relationship with someone new, I know that would feel like an absolute kick in the heart and I’m not going to do that. Plus I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t agree whatever I said – he wouldn’t trust me to keep it light-hearted and casual. And anyway I deserve better than that.

At the end of the day a relationship – be it friendship, romance or family – is all about give and take – love, support, patience, care and attention. A hand to hold, a heart to trust. Someone to reassure you that you are doing your best and give you the confidence to trust in your own strength – not someone to do your job for you or give you some kind of a free ride.

Right now my family and friends are the best a girl could get and their support is genuine and cannot be stolen away in the night.

Perspective

For 36 hours, other than a few snatched periods of restless sleep filled with dark dreams and a few pockets of stability, I cried. It’s only natural – the person with whom you have become deeply intimate, shared every thought, hope and dream, someone with whom you never exchanged a cross word for four solid months – the person who, just 18 hours before sent you a message telling you they loved you with a twinkly heart attached, shows up on your doorstep, not for the planned assignation which you were expecting but with the express purpose of breaking things off.

To put it in perspective, just two weeks before this we had been enjoying a romantic weekend getaway to the coast, holding hands on the sea wall and fossil hunting the pebbled shores of Charmouth. We had discussed summer barbeques, camping trips abroad and family gatherings.

I’ve already explained the reasons he gave for ending ‘us’, so I won’t re-hash here. What I need to express and explore now is how I am adjusting and what comes next. I’ve been living out the five stages of grief in microcosm – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I’ve composed a long text message asking him to continue a relationship of sorts only to delete it almost immediately.

I’ve raged about the broken promises, the over-sensitivity, the hypocrisy of telling someone you still love them but then dropping them like a hot potato, the weakness of a person who can’t understand that love should conquer all or alternatively the duplicity of someone who never really loved or let love in whilst claiming otherwise.

I have mourned for the loss of a loving, supportive partner; I have questioned every word and action wondering whether I gave offence unwittingly at some point and re-hashed conversations during our first few dates when we were still offering unguarded information about the nature of our lives and our hearts.

I’ve considered a bleak future in which I live alone with my challenging children in a void punctuated by the bitter attacks of my emotionally abusive ex-husband. I’ve feared that this experience has starkly demonstrated that, in my situation, a middle-aged single mum with two kids in KS1, I am become ‘untouchable’, that a long-term love may be a concept I need to let go of.

But as the hours pass I see things slightly differently. We were two middle aged people who chanced upon one another; we both happened to be single and allowed an attraction to form. We were no star-crossed young lovers. We weren’t the perfect match, we had elements of compatibility.

I re-calibrated my expectations earlier and realised that the pain inflicted upon me two days ago was undeniably centred upon the cruel and unexpected nature of his decision – the fact that he orchestrated a completely one-sided conversation and took any control over the how, why and when of the break-up out of my hands.

If he truly lacks the capacity to man up and offer unconditional love and support to a partner who clearly has her own struggles, or to find a way to control his own stressors and work things through, then he’s not the man I hoped he was and I accept his decision.

However, I still like him, I still think that he is a good man who was generous and open and empathetic and generally fun to be around, so I decided to send him a text asking if he would be willing to continue seeing each other as friends. I sent that message four and a half hours ago. He still hasn’t responded and now I’m not sure what to think…

24 Hours on Tinder…

OK, OK, I know I said I’d never go there but I did. For some reason it seemed like a good idea the other night when my ex had asked for the kids overnight mid-week at the last minute. I got home from work thinking “Ooh six hours to myself with no plan – what will I do?” and instead of productively blogging or watching a movie on Netflix or reading a good book, I decided to set up a profile on Tinder.

Suffice to say I spent a significant period of time swiping left on the most unfortunate set of men you have ever laid eyes on. I mean I know I decided to stick with guys age mid forties and up because it seemed more realistic but good grief, it’s slim pickings!

Then eventually after swiping right about maybe five times I finally got a match! And he was attractive to me so I sent a message. I still haven’t heard back 48 hours later. Shelve that.

Then I got another match! And I messaged him (see I have read some stuff about Tinder since and apparently it’s not the done thing to be a woman rushing in to message a guy first but hey ho).

I said “I’m new to this and I feel a bit like a giddy puppy right now! I assume that feeling will wear off…”. His response? “Well I think you might only have that feeling because you matched with me 😉 ;-)”

So yes, the conversation started off a bit flirty. Then I started trying to get a genuine conversation going to get to know a bit more about him and his responses to my messages got fewer and further between – like first a 20 minute gap, then 30 until eventually I was waiting the best part of an hour for a reply and I just gave in and went to bed.

Frankly I see this as game-playing and mucking about. I deliberately swiped right on guys who, yes, I found at least marginally attractive, but they had to look a bit normal and seem a bit down to earth as well but apparently Tinder will take a normal guy and turn him into a player.

My sister says that’s the dating game offline as well from what she’s witnessed going out with her single friend.

It’s depressing and I’m thinking of deleting Tinder immediately because I just don’t have the time or the emotional strength right now to play those silly games – I’m too old and I have too much at stake.

I had an appointment with my solicitor today and she was good – she gave me reason to believe that I should probably be looking at getting the help of the system at this point as my ex is clearly not a suitable candidate for mediation. He has been using the fact that we have no formal child maintenance arrangement in place to start trying to control me, telling me that if I am letting him have the children for two weeks in October then he will halve his maintenance payment.

The solicitor told me to go straight to the Child Maintenance Service and get them to calculate and formalise the arrangement. I think I will get a bit less this way but its peace of mind.

The solicitor also advised me not to let him have the children for two weeks so soon – they are too little and it is not conducive to a routine during the school term – especially when my four year old is only a couple of weeks into school life and needs the security of being able to come home to his mummy at the end of the day.

I have tried so hard to keep things friendly and informal with him and given way to many of his last minute requests and let him get away with never giving me a list of his contact dates going forwards but that’s simply not fair on me. He doesn’t want to give up his flexibility but his flexibility comes at the cost of my lifestyle being completely inflexible.

Everything that is about to happen will make him even angrier than he is now. My solicitor thinks I should still be in our house and he should be out. She stressed the fact that the court will always put the needs of the children first and that he is not playing by those rules at this point.

I don’t particularly want to be back in that house but she also says he’s not offering me enough money for my share of the house given the fact that I am the one who has to take the responsibility for housing our children going forwards so if nothing else going back into the house is a bargaining chip.

I need to get a second phone which he can use if he wants to contact our children. I am not obliged to deal with him personally – that can be left to the lawyers.

In many ways the thought of solicitors fees and court costs scare the heck out of me but I am at the point where I just don’t care any more. The system is designed to protect the needs of the children and I am their primary carer so that means protecting me too.

I just hope the impending storm coming his way is not going to drag me in and in the meantime Tinder is off.

The things men get wrong on Match.com

(And probably women too but I wouldn’t know…)

OK, firstly, let me just say that I’m not actually back on Match.com – well, not really – that would make me the biggest flake out there wouldn’t it, after posting all the reasons I’ll never go back to internet dating…

It turns out you can create kind of a skeleton profile which allows you to do actual searches on eligible men (or presumably women) in your vicinity. So, yeah, I’m just kind of window shopping right now. It is a little bit addictive though and I can see myself forking out, at some point, for what it’s worth.

Because, let’s face it, what really are my options? Yes in an ideal world I would join some kind of cool club which I would attend regularly and it would allow me to get to know a bunch of people – male and female – and I would make some male friends and (presuming they were single) maybe one of those friendships would evolve into something more.

Back here in the real world – I’m a single mum with small children – I will not be attending any cool clubs on a regular basis. At least not for the next 15 years.

People don’t meet eligible singles whilst browsing melons and bananas in the supermarket or when their eyes meet in the queue for a Costa latte. That stuff is just for the movies because, let’s face it, unless it becomes socially acceptable to go round wearing a sign saying “single and looking” and then maybe a little ‘winky’ eye pointer to hold up to indicate that the “single and looking” you are looking at is actually your type, there is just no way of either knowing anyone else’s status or gleaning whether or not you are their cup of tea.

It’s even less likely to happen when you have two munchkins under the age of 7 in tow – what are the odds that strangers will assume you are happily partnered up?

So yeah, all that to say, internet dating or bust right?

Back to Match.com then. Of course other dating sites and apps are available but Match was the one I was on ten years ago and it’s interesting to see how it’s changed and evolved. Winking is still a thing, but now there are all sorts of quizzes and enhanced extras plus dating ‘events’ being organised all over the country by all accounts.

When you’ve spent a bit of time out in the world assuming that you are probably the only singleton within a 25 mile radius and scratching your head wondering how, in a population the size of South East England, it could be so difficult to hook up with someone who fulfils your criteria, suddenly being confronted by a whole swathe of eligible men all fully searchable and scrollable is comforting.

But, goodness, men of Match.com – what were a tonne of you thinking when you chose your profile photo?? I appreciate that not everyone is pretty and there’s not much you can do about that (bar posting a blurry photo taken from two hundred yards away) but seriously I’ve seen better mug-shots. Being too close to the camera – looming above the camera (thereby leaving the viewer with a distinct sense of vertigo), refusing to crack a smile, posing in contrived ways, showing off the guns (you are clearly obsessed with pumping weights at the gym) – I have to say the words that came into my head were ‘scary’ and ‘keep your distance’!

Then there are the sales pitches. To be fair, I think of myself as a writer so I’m quite the picky madam. Anything with poor grammar and spelling – is a turn off. Any pitch which involves the sentence “I like to go for long walks, hold hands and finish of the day cuddled up on the sofa with a glass of wine” is being, in my opinion, lazy and clichéd. Anyone who can only churn out one or two sentences gives the impression that they aren’t really all that bothered about the whole thing or they have no imagination or creativity within their soul.

Then there are the men who have a good old stab at an ‘entertaining’ pitch by going down the analogy route. So far I’ve had the pleasure of a full on motoring analogy (Ladeez – if I were a second hand car and you were the buyer…) and some good old sporting metaphors. And fair play to those guys, at least they were giving the self-marketing thing a bash, however cringe-worthy.

The names people have chosen for themselves can also be an instant turn off – but I guess they serve their purpose – Golflover365 – er. no thanks.

Yes I predict a lot of bad dates out there…

Knowing what you want after separation

Before I met my husband I had a period of 18 months being single. That was when I was 33/34. It was my longest period of being single since the age of 22 (although between 22 & 33 I had 3 ‘long term’ relationships including a marriage).

In that 18 months I started my Masters degree, I went on an extended holiday to Australia alone where I did a parachute jump, white water rafting, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, made new friends – basically the holiday of a lifetime – the kind you can only really do when you have no ties and no real responsibilities except to yourself.

But then I began to have ‘the fear’ – or at any rate ‘the fear’ was always there in the background – the fear of being alone in the world – that my friends and family could only fulfil part of what I needed, what I was craving.

I liken it now to having a biological clock ticking although my desire for a relationship – even at 33/34 was not about wanting to become a mother. OK sure that notion was there tucked safely in the mental equivalent of the cupboard under the stairs to be retrieved at a later date, but that wasn’t what I really needed at that point in time.

Sure enough six months of internet dating later I had hooked up with my husband and I was genuinely contented for the first few years before we had children and his controlling nature and personality disorder really kicked up a gear. I found myself grieving for what could have been every time I switched on Facebook to another carefree status update boasting “Happy Anniversary to the best husband and father a woman could ever hope for”.

So now I’m single again after ten years. And it’s been nearly six months. And I find myself having the same thoughts and feelings that got me into this situation in the first place.

I look at my single friends – the perennial singles – the girls who have their own homes and their own lives and seem happy to be un-encumbered by men and kids. I wonder why I can’t be more like them – it seems so appealing: to answer to no-one; to live life with spontaneity; eat what you want when you want; do what you want with your free time without having to oblige anyone else’s demands or needs or desires.

Singletons can, on the spur of the moment, decide to book a holiday (money allowing) to wherever their heart desires (even if it involves five years of scrimping and saving). They can make the time to pursue a new passion, set themselves a target or a goal and pour all their energies into achieving it. They never need to waste their time making small talk with someone else’s friends and colleagues. And their own family ties are what keeps them grounded.

On the other hand I know that couples who work, who click, who are really well matched and capable of compromise and mutual respect and the understanding that a happy partner makes for a happy partnership – those people seem to have the best of both worlds.

To be partnered up with someone who is a friend as well as a lover… I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop looking for that but the odds seem to shorten every single day, week, month, year.

Yes, I’m not really ready for another long term relationship – I wouldn’t trust myself ; it would feel like I was rushing. I have to consider the children and my ability to even get out of the house socially, to meet new people is massively limited, frustratingly so, but perhaps it is a good thing after all. It will save me from myself.

I have to keep reminding myself that there is no rush. This period of my life is all about getting through a difficult transition and getting my kids through it too. It’s about re-discovering my old friends and getting to know the friends I’ve managed to make in the past couple of years a bit better.

It’s about giving myself a break – allowing myself to be happy in the moment. And building up my confidence so that, once I decide to actively pursue a couple of dates, I can go in with a take it or leave it attitude. I don’t want to be a queen to anybody’s king. I want a co-pilot.

Finding some balance

It’s been a weird couple of weeks for me. First moving back into our home whilst my husband was away, then moving back out again. Going from the fairly peaceful days whilst my husband was far away immersed in his training course to having him back in my headspace with his bitter words and attempts to sabotage my relationship with my children.

And looming even larger in my mind, the completely unexpected approach of a seemingly eligible single man who it turns out I had nothing real in common with and who just didn’t stimulate me enough (in any sense of the word!).

As I have said before the thought of a new relationship – the pursuit of a companion/lover/partner in crime – was nothing more than the vaguest of notions simmering away on a back burner up to this point.

When I was in the thick of my marriage – the bad bit – I remember thinking “I want nothing more to do with men”, I felt that I could happily be celibate for the rest of my life, that I am probably better suited to being alone and that having my first ever home – just mine (and the kids of course) would be an exciting novelty. For the only person controlling me to be me. For compromise to be a thing of a the past.

But now? This recent tryst has opened up the floodgates to a lot of feelings of self doubt and worry about loneliness – suddenly feeling sexy again only to be plunged straight back into long-term celibacy. Honestly, I just can’t stop thinking about it right now which is a bit shit considering I was doing so well just being me and being as good a mum to my kids as I could be.

I read a couple of articles yesterday about sex and the single mum and one of them really helped me come to terms with where I’m at – or at least put things in some perspective. The author mentioned that feeling of being in a daze at the beginning of a new relationship – totally pre-occupied, you know? Not great when you have small children who need you to organise everything from their homework, to their meals to their social lives. Giving 25% is kind of short-changing them somewhat.

Then there are all the thoughts about being in the dating pool, dealing with idiots, trying to navigate the sharks, trying not to get sucked into another relationship vortex, trying to decide if ‘casual’ no-strings relationships are the way forward or just the fast-track into an emotional mire.

I need to try and remember all the things I was looking forward to about getting out of a bad relationship and being single again. Yes, one of the things I wrote down at the time was ‘flirting’ (not much of that goes on in a bad marriage), but actually, most of it was about getting out and doing things I enjoy again, seeing my friends un-hindered and experiencing things that my husband would have disapproved of (festivals, blog conferences – ha ha!).

Plus despite my ever increasing years I need to remember that people don’t just stop having relationships once they hit 40. I don’t have a biological clock ticking any more which is kind of cool in that there is no pressure to rush into anything. Also one of my good friends at work – an absolutely lovely guy – just got married for the first time at the age of 55 to his partner – a two-time divorcee in her 50s with two grown up children and grandchildren.

The one thing that is dumbfounding me right now is that my husband, after a separation of four and half months, is deeply involved with another woman – someone who seems uniquely suited to him (although I don’t envy her long term). He is suddenly taking up tennis and talking about skiing holidays (two of my favourite sports which he would never have contemplated during our ten years together).

At one and the same time he has moved on so, so quickly, (I know they have already discussed moving in together – don’t ask me how!) and is yet still so wrought with anger over my decision to leave him.

So yeah, that’s where I’m at. Single, frustrated and under attack but still hopeful for the future because it’s in my own hands now.

Why I won’t be internet dating again

Ten years ago, after breaking up from the rebound relationship I had after my first marriage failed, I became increasingly concerned that I would never be in a situation to meet a potential partner just by living my life the way it was it then. To be fair I was working a temp role as a public library assistant before embarking on a full time Masters degree so the average age of the men in my life was about 65.

I took an extended holiday trekking up the East coast of Australia thinking I might meet the man of my dreams whilst snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef but it wasn’t to be. On my return I decided to take the plunge and register for a paid dating site – it seemed like my only chance to dive back into the dating pool (I was 34) and Internet dating was just beginning to take off and becoming a socially acceptable thing back then.

I was quite quickly hooked on the amount of immediate attention (it wasn’t actually that much but compared to my previous barren 18 months of singledom it was a huge ego boost initially). I tentatively set off on a few dates not really having any idea what I was expecting.

The first guy I met was an advertising exec. He was not a suit – he was the scruffy ‘creative’ type who prided himself on being trendy with his North London flat and his Converse All-Stars. I ended up dating him for six weeks – it was incredibly intoxicating but I knew after those few weeks that it would never be anything more than superficial – even then I could see that he was a damaged individual and would never introduce me to a friend (I began to believe that he didn’t actually have any friends or family, such was the bubble he kept me in).

The second guy I dated – again for just a few weeks – was very different. He was a tennis coach – he also lived in his own flat and seemed to have very little common sense but he was physically attractive and I was again flattered to be desired so intensely within such a short space of time. This was the one ‘relationship’ I had which threw me a complete curveball – he strung me along really pretending to want a long term relationship, suggesting we book a holiday together – he even came to a dinner party with me at my sister’s house. Then one day (the day we were going to be booking the holiday) he told me he was just popping out to get some cash and essentially he never came back – just dropped me a text to say ‘sorry, I changed my mind’.

In hindsight it is pretty hilarious but not so much at the time. Dick.

The next guy was even worse. He was clearly loaded and used his money to impress the women he dated and give them a little taster of a lifestyle which maybe they’d never dreamed of before. He had a bit of fun and then disappeared, using his ‘mother’s health’ as an excuse for why his head was not in the dating game any more (all the while blatently keeping an active dating profile going online).

But I soldiered on – literally. My next (very) short term relationship was with a Royal Marine Commando. To be fair that was only ever going to be about one thing. Men in uniform hey? To give him credit, he was very honest with me and he was a genuinely nice guy but we had bugger all in common on an intellectual level.

By this point, I was pretty worn down by the game-playing, the disappointment and in fact, the ever-decreasing pool of ‘eligible’ men who were desperately winking away in cyberspace. That’s when I decided to give the man who I would eventually go on to procreate with and marry (and now divorce) a chance.

I guess I’d kind of reached a level of desperation and I just wanted someone who I could trust – someone who didn’t seem to be hiding anything or playing some kind of strategic dating game. His world seemed fairly recognisable to me – middle class suburbia. He had a university education, a sense of humour. But in hindsight he fell a long way short of being my perfect match – and to be honest I don’t believe that there is a ‘perfect match’ waiting for anyone on a dating website.

My situation skews the statistics. Yes internet dating can lead to marriage. It can also lead to divorce. I guess that’s true of the offline dating environment too – so many ways to get it wrong. I’ve experienced both and in each relationship I can now look back and pinpoint the exact moment when I had my first (very real) doubt. In some cases that initial feeling happened prior to the first date but when you’re in the thick of it and you’ve been feeling a bit lonely for a while you tend to be more willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the UK TV show Location, Location, Location where a couple are shown a number of potential houses, some of them (in my eyes), dream houses – but one person always finds something to criticise which frustrates Phil and Kirsty and makes them say “[this person] needs to begin to make some compromises otherwise they will end up homeless”. Well that’s a bit how I felt about dating and the opportunities that presented themselves – if I was too uncompromising would I end up (emotionally) homeless?

As a result of feeling that way (and to extend the metaphor), I ended up living in a series of sh**ty houses.

I’m now a decade older. I’ve had two children and I’ve hit middle age. I’ve read a fair few bloggers describe their internet dating experiences (particularly Kate of Witwitwoo who is a similar age to me) and it doesn’t make for particularly uplifting reading.

I have come to the conclusion that where I’ve gone wrong in my choices of men, it’s essentially been down to the fact that I’ve nearly always dated men who, prior to my first date, I barely knew at all. In fact my rebound relationship is the only one I’ve had with someone who I knew as a friend beforehand and that was the closest I’ve come to being with the right person.

Unfortunately Internet dating is always going to be with men you’ve never met before prior to the first date and their dating ‘profile’ isn’t worth jack shit and will tell you nothing real. My husband and I actually used to jibe each other with the line “you didn’t put that in your profile” which used to be funny.

Actually, what I realise now is that you can never rest on your laurels, assuming that now, finally, you have the key to unlock a successful relationship. I have bounced from “always trust your instinct if you sense that there is an underlying addiction” to, “never get into a rebound relationship” to “listen to the early warning alarm bells” and then I have a whole bunch of non-negotiable criteria which the ‘right’ man would have to meet.

And then I look at myself and I think, blimey, I’m not exactly catch of the century so what makes me think I can demand such high standards in a partner? Pft.

So. There you go, I guess it’s the single life for me!