It’s a no from me

So, yet more navel gazing from the frontlines of the confusing, frustrating, disappointing world of internet dating.

If you read my last post then you know that I was vaguely excited by what I’d considered a ‘good’ date yesterday. I was in the dark about how The Scot felt about me or what would happen next given hectic schedules on both sides. I needn’t have worried.

After about 8 hours I sent a brief message saying I’d enjoyed meeting him and suggesting that if he could get a night off soon then I would attempt to do the same, I got nothing back. At least not until 15 hours later when I receive the fairly lame “It was nice to meet you too, Layla. I’ll try and get a night off soon Xx”.

The first thing that irritated me about this was that, well, Layla isn’t my real name but I’ve got the kind of name that is shortened to the first three letters – always. I don’t feel comfortable if someone uses my full name – it’s not Elizabeth but if it was, and I was used to being called Liz then you can see how formal and arms length it would seem to use the long version. That’s the first thing he did.

I had said “I really enjoyed meeting you today [Scot]” and he responded “It was nice to meet you”. Not the same I’m afraid, in fact generically polite and dispassionate.

Despite these little niggles though the one thing that spoke volumes was the time scale. It quickly became clear to me that this was more than just someone who doesn’t really ‘do’ messaging. And once I had come to that realisation, I began to unpick everything – total deconstruction of the dating process, my expectations, what I want, what I need, everything.

Before I had even decided what the time lag was all about I already knew that whatever, it meant something to me – it meant that, to coin a phrase, he just wasn’t that into me. And that’s OK – disappointing initially, but OK. And actually, on reflection, I begin to see that there was something fundamentally lacking in our interaction, something which is really quite important to me: humour. There was no banter, no flirting, no naughty twinkle in anyone’s eye.

To be fair I’ve got myself in trouble before by my attraction to men who have a bit of the joker about them, and I realised that when I was scrolling through one dating website the first time I was even narrowing my search down to men who described themselves as ‘a big kid’. Then I happened to stumble across the profile of the Husband and noticed that he describes himself as ‘a big kid’. Oh dear.

Heaven knows I don’t want another child in my life but a sense of humour, the signs that the other person doesn’t take themselves too seriously, the impression that they enjoy the fun stuff whilst still being able to man up to the challenges we all face in our day to day lives and switch on a bit of depth for a real emotional connection – that’s a pretty big deal to me. Unless someone is naturally that way inclined then I find it difficult to feel truly at ease in their company.

I am a self-deprecating kind of person, I LOVE to laugh – live comedy is one of my absolute favourite things to watch. It’s part of my history, growing up as a regular audience member on the London Comedy Circuit. I would rather discuss my favourite funny films and shows than discuss politics.*

I would rather go to bed with someone who makes me laugh (not like that!) because it puts you at your ease and it’s the beginning of ‘playful’ and I like playful. All that intense Fifty Shades bullshit just makes me cringe.

So, yeah, all that to say, this whole experience has started with me feeling rejected and ended with me feeling grateful – grateful to be given the opportunity to re-assess what it is I need. Grateful that I have the ability to keep it all in perspective and not to take it personally, because I know that I would have dated this guy and I know now that it wouldn’t have taken.

  • I do talk about politics and political issues do matter to me but if I just put this out there: Ben Elton, circa 1986 and ‘a little bit of politics’… that’s the way I like it…

 

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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…

Step away from the Comfort Zone

It’s been Mayday bank holiday weekend for the past three days. It’s Monday evening now and it’s been five days since the ex dropped out again all bar his brief little attempt to talk me back into a commit-free relationship on his terms (which I declined this time).

I knew that I needed to fill my weekend up with action and social interaction and activities. Crucially knowing that I had childfree time I wanted to make the most of it and where I would have been doing nothing more interesting than another hanging out with the ex “for old time’s sake”, I wanted to prove to myself that being single and making choices which open up new experiences for me is actually really valuable and it’s the part of my life that’s been missing for the longest time.

Last week I discovered a local tennis club and made some enquiries which led to me heading down there on Saturday afternoon to check it out. I very nearly ended up walking away without even speaking to anyone but fortunately two lovely guys approached me and said it was no problem for me to stay and join in. I ended up being there for over two hours and playing in three short matches. I came away feeling that it would probably be worth joining but that, whilst the people were relatively friendly, it might take a while to make any real friendships. However, as a way of burning energy, practising my game and getting the kids some lessons it really makes sense. I don’t know if they have “socials” outside of the game but if they do then that would be an added plus.

I returned home to do some cooking, listen to some music and watch an episode of my latest unmissable TV thriller before having a bite to eat and getting myself ready for an evening out with another group of strangers.

During this time I had to really fight my feelings of loneliness. Under other circumstances I would have revelled in these solitary activities but this weekend the final break up with the ex was a little too raw and feeling like I simply didn’t yet belong to the groups I aspire to be a part of made me feel like I was hovering on my own in limbo for a while.

I really felt super nervous about heading off to the Meetup.com social that I’d signed up for. Would it be awkward? How would I know who to approach when I arrived? What if everyone knew each other so well that they were cliquey and exclusive? Nevertheless I was pretty determined to see it through – I do believe that there’s no time like the present and you have to be a bit brave and get out of your comfort zone if you want to achieve anything in this life.

As it was I arrived bang on time and didn’t know who to approach. For a second I floundered but then the one other member of the group who was there caught sight of me and came to my rescue. It was all a little weird to begin with but as more and more people arrived I found myself chatting to one person after another and feeling more and more accepted. Admittedly at one point I did get stuck talking to a bit of a bore but eventually I managed to break away and join in with some of the other girls having a dance to the live music at the venue which was great fun.

By the end of the evening I felt pretty good about the whole thing and one of the more gregarious guys came over and told me that he was impressed that I’d had the courage to just come along not knowing anyone and really get stuck in. I felt proud of myself, and he was right, that first time is the killer – once you’ve conquered that you’re no longer a stranger and next time I will head out feeling excited to meet my new friends rather than nervous.

Weirdly the activity on the dating website I’m signed up to suddenly picked up after about a month of tumbleweed blowing through. A guy I messaged ages ago finally replied after re-subscribing to full membership (without which you are unable to write or open messages). He didn’t seem very chatty so I decided to cut to the chase and suggest meeting up in person for a coffee rather than entering into one of those excruciating ping pong message matches where delayed responses become a source of soul searching agony or it all fizzles out before it’s even begun.

Now I have a pencilled in date for the end of the week which is kind of awesome and terrifying in equal measure.

If I’m honest I have a few reservations about this guy. He is a single dad with kids just a little older than mine which is great but I’m having a hard time figuring out how the hell we would manage to see each other if he’s either working or solo parenting. Also, he has a kind of “come to bed” vibe going on in a few of his photos and I suspect he may be one of those guys who isn’t really looking for a relationship, just a string of dates to round out a bachelor lifestyle. That is also borne out by the fact that under “type of relationship sought” he’s picked “let’s see what happens” from the drop down box.

Either way, it’s just another stepping stone – it’s an ego boost just to have a relatively attractive man even want to meet up with me (there are probably a load of other girls on his list but we live one town over from each other so it’s a nothing to lose scenario I guess). Plus I’m slowly beginning to see the merits in meeting a variety of people and not desperately clinging on to the idea of true love with the first person I happen to run into. I’ve lived my entire romantic life like that and I can only look back and wonder whether I somehow shut the door on a potential soulmate by settling for the path of least resistance.

So, I think I can safely say that it’s been a full on couple of days (including two days over at my parents with the boys and a roast with my sister, brother in law and niece).
Whatever the future holds i think I’ve proved to myself that life can be full and whatever you make if it if you just have the determination to put yourself out there.

Searching for love in all the wrong places

So yesterday I decided to go ahead and meet up with the guy I’d been in touch with (Curvaceous Issues Guy – CiG). He phoned me again Sunday night and this time the call went on for three hours – again mostly with him talking non-stop. However on this phone call I got more of a sense of who he was rather than just his non-stop (frankly wacky) opinions about a range of things.

I found out that he has three daughters in their 20s each with children of their own. I asked about their mum at one point and he told me that she had died of cancer over 20 years ago.

I found out that his mum and dad split up when he was 8 and his mum bad-mouthed his dad so much over the years that he ended up disliking her.

We talked about my situation with the husband and he encouraged me to always put the children first and let them see their dad even if he leaves it to the last minute to ask.

I still knew that he wasn’t the one but I decided to meet up with him because sometimes you just crave that human connection and the novelty of going on a ‘date’.

When he approached me at the bar of the pub we’d agreed to meet at I had to do a double take because he looked nothing like his pictures. He actually looked about 15 years older than his main photo and ten years older than the one he’d put on to show his ‘ugly/hungover’ side.

I couldn’t help but consider the irony given his previous obsession with my appearance and just how honest I’d been with both photos and description. He was clearly very happy with the fact that I at least had given a truthful description of myself.

I’m almost embarrassed to say this but the date started at 2pm and didn’t end until 9.30pm (at his flat). That is mostly down to the fact that he just talked incessantly and there never really seemed to be a suitable point to end it. Come about 6pm I just cut in and told him that I was feeling hungry and would probably have to go. He seemed a bit annoyed that I hadn’t eaten lunch knowing that we were coming on a date. I told him I had eaten lunch of a bowl of soup and some yogurt at work at about 12.30pm (and obviously hadn’t realised that this date would go on for more than a couple of hours). He still seemed bemused by my desire to have an evening meal but I suggested we go somewhere – said I’d be happy with fish & chips and he offered to take me by the chippy near his home. I agreed – I just needed food.

When we got there he let me go in and buy my own food saying he’d just have some chips if there were any left over – apparently he had eaten a piece of fried bread and an egg for lunch and it was going to fuel him through to the following day (he has this dumb theory that essentially negates all received wisdom about how different food groups affect the body and swears by a sugar donut as the one thing that will fill you up and keep you full the longest. Go figure).

I found myself back at his place – the tiniest one bedroom flat with some tired looking furniture and a big flat screen TV. Again I’m not sure why I was OK with all this.

Earlier, at the pub, he had asked to kiss me and after letting him I felt like my teeth were clenched, I was shaking, I felt anxious. I told him about what had happened with the boyfriend recently and tears came to my eyes – I got quite emotional. He seemed compassionate and told me that there may have been a reason for the boyfriend to leave beyond what he had told me and that I would probably never know, but I should look on the four months we had together fondly as a lovely interlude in my life and then move on.

By 9.30 I realised that it was dark and late and I needed to go home (and have some peace and quiet). I’ve said it before but as an introvert its just so draining to be caught up in a social situation that you can’t get out of for hours on end. I felt so extremely tired but fortunately even he conceded that 7 hours was long enough for a first date and he drove me back to my car.

I was glad that I’d told him about the boyfriend and cried in front of him too because I knew that it gave me a plausible explanation to cut things off – it’s even true: I do need time to grieve; I do still burst into tears sometimes when I think about what I’ve lost; I am still so, so tempted to fire off a message and see whether I get anything back.

However it’s also true that I found some of the opinions CiG expressed to be anathema to my world view – his politics in particular. I didn’t find him physically attractive, and I felt he failed a bit at the ‘first date’ first hurdle by letting me buy the drinks and not offering to get my food for me (it was pretty cheap but it would have been a nice gesture).

His life and lifestyle seemed less than he’d portrayed – he spent a lot of time talking about various TV shows and documentaries that he watches and I think he must spend a fair bit of time vegging on the sofa watching ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here!’ and eating sugar donuts.

I told him I need time to get over the boyfriend and that I would be coming off the dating website in order to concentrate on being alone for a bit. I then went on the site and blocked him so I would become invisible. I have paid for another 3 and a half weeks on there and then I’m letting the subscription lapse.

Frankly it’s been a big disappointment – he is the only person who has replied to a message I’ve sent out (bar one sweet guy who had the decency to reply and let me know that he’s just started seeing someone else) and I’m not sure if people are put off by the thought of my kids (although I’ve only approached people who have kids of their own and come across as family types); or maybe they are already seeing someone, or they genuinely don’t fancy me. The point is I’ve sent messages only to people who have spent time crafting an interesting written profile and who have clearly got a fair bit in common with me so it feels that is pretty much it. Unless I want to trawl deeper and message people who live too far away, or who I don’t really fancy, what is the point?

I immediately start thinking about Meetup groups or some other way to meet someone but the point is life is too full right now – full of parenting, struggling with the co-parenting, work, catching up with friends and family, reading, watching movies and box-sets that I’ve missed, events I am booked in to attend, play dates, a bit of blogging and the occasional brainstorm about the book I will, one day, write.

I think that pursuing a relationship with anyone right now is just a daydream. I made the mistake of letting loneliness and the sense of rejection and plain desperation get the better of me before and I ended up spending ten years with the wrong man.

This is a time to re-group, consolidate what I’ve got and tackle any challenges head on without the need to keep relentlessly pursuing some kind of love interest. If it happens, it happens without me forcing the issue.

 

Having a wobble

If this is how difficult it is to get over a 4 month long relationship then thank god the break up happened when it did because any deeper in and I can’t imagine the devastation.

I think all this dating stuff has brought it home to me. I’d barely even dipped a toe in the murky dating pool when I met my boyfriend and it just seemed like serendipity to be able to bypass all this headwrecking shit that I feel I’m being drawn into again now.

I know it’s early days but somehow being pursued by non starters and ignored by the rest of the actively dating male population seems so much worse than if they never even knew I existed.

My boyfriend boosted my confidence so much – he made me feel so special – he had eyes for nobody else. It’s really hard to go back into this limbo.

Other than about 3 hours yesterday afternoon I’ve been on my own with the kids for the last 48 hours. Today wasn’t too bad – soaring temperatures here in the south of England and my eldest was at a birthday party for 3 hours, then off with his mate from the neighbourhood all afternoon so it was just me and my little cutie.

Still 48 hours with only the briefest interlude to interact with other adults does feel kind of lonely and then to be bombarded with two hours of chat last night during which I could probably have walked away from the phone and he wouldn’t even have noticed, combined with what almost felt like an attack on the things I *did* get to say left my head spinning. I normally sleep pretty well but last night I really struggled and despite not having any alcohol I awoke in the early hours with my head banging like a dehydrated drunk.

This obviously isn’t a healthy direction to be heading in and I probably need to stop.
I think it doesn’t help that I am not only losing three of my normally child free Fridays due to the Easter break but I also have zero child contact dates from the husband going forwards and psychologically that leaves me feeling like I simply have no respite.

In reality I know how lucky I am, how much I have to be grateful for. Being able to blog all this shit out of my head is helpful and I think that so many people must be feeling the same or worse than I do right now. Maybe someone needs to set up an IDA group (Internet Daters Anonymous) where those of us addicted to the potential highs but more often than not wrecked by the emotional lows can get together and support each other through this long dark teatime of the soul…

To date or not to date…

So I did what I said I wouldn’t do and signed up to a dating site. I realise that I am probably inviting trouble back into my life but there is something in me that I can’t silence – this need for a partner – and it’s even stronger since experiencing (albeit briefly) life with someone who was probably the best partner I’ve ever had – kind, caring, generous, emotionally intelligent…

I’ve paid for a month (must remember to cancel subscription!) on this one site which seems to appeal to a more literate, liberal, culturally aware breed of person.

Unfortunately I think I might have just thrown £32 down the drain because only one of the 6 people I’ve messaged has responded.

On the plus side he ticks some boxes – he lives in the next town over, where I work; he’s four years older than me; he looks ok (as far as I can tell); he’s taller than me; he’s writing a novel and he is gainfully employed.

On the down side, having spent a while crafting a message that picked up on things he’d said in his profile and made the effort to get the balance right he eventually responded “hey, how’s you? :-)” which was a bit underwhelming but I forged ahead. It quickly transpired that he didn’t want to spend ages messaging and would rather speak on the phone. Fair enough. We exchanged numbers and I told him it would have to be after 9.30pm when both kids would finally be in bed asleep.

I also thought I might as well make use of the fact that my parents have got the kids Monday night and suggested that we meet up for a drink (particularly because the husband has me in limbo again with no listed dates for child contact going forwards). He agreed.

9.35pm and in came the call.

I’m sure everyone has this little fantasy in their head when someone with an ounce of potential comes on the scene: this could be the one; wouldn’t it be wonderful if this was the last date I ever had to have? You allow yourself this sliver of hope.

As soon as I heard him speak I knew that he wasn’t the one. Almost the first thing he said to me was something deep about how we’re living in an age where no one really expects to have a relationship for life and we’ll probably all just keep moving on. Bear in mind that his profile specifies that his potential partner/date should believe in “real fairytales” I have to wonder WTF is that if not a lasting relationship (with a real person, flaws and all)?

He then proceeded to talk at me for the following TWO hours 😳 during which I barely got a word in edgewise.

At one point, having prompted him a couple of times with questions about himself based on some stuff from his date profile he implied that I was a bit of a stalker to have read and remembered those things! I said isn’t that the point, that we use that information as an icebreaker and suggested that I was waiting for him to ask *me* a question.

For a minute I breathed a sigh of relief as he informed me that he had indeed picked up on something I’d written about myself. He wanted to know just exactly what I meant by describing myself as “curvaceous”. I immediately responded “hourglass” but it was no good he wanted a detailed discussion (one sided) about the ambiguity of the word “curvaceous” (which I might add, was something I got from a dropdown box). Apparently women who are maybe a bit “obese” sometimes use this word to put a positive spin on things. I pointed out that he had seen a photo of me looking relatively slim and fit but he wasn’t convinced that it was a recent picture. I assured him that it was taken just three weeks before.

In the end I had to talk him through my exact dress size only stopping shy of giving him my bra size! FFS!

It got to 11.45pm and I finally managed to break his flow gently suggesting that I may need to get some sleep before the kids jumped all over me in just over 6 hours time. He conceded and we had a brief discussion on where and when we would meet on Monday. It turns out the best option for him is for me to roll out of work at 1.30pm and meet in town then as he works from home and later on wasn’t really convenient.

Honestly it did occur to me that I could’ve spent last night watching 2 episodes of Walking Dead and perhaps my childfree time on Monday evening would be better spent doing something I actually enjoy because I can almost guarantee that this will not be one of those dates where you walk away with that buzz of satisfaction having met up with a kindred spirit. Who knows, we might have sexual chemistry and there might be that but is it worth it?

I did explain my situation with the kids and the “high conflict” ex and a recent relationship which didn’t work out so in theory I could just turn around and say I’ve decided I’m not ready for all this, but then it would be awkward if he saw that my little green light on the dating site was activated. What a minefield!

To be fair it’s probably for the best that it’s not working out because I had told myself that I need to give it a year, or at least 6 months, or at least until the divorce was finalised before putting myself out there because otherwise I would only be short changing any potential suitors (haha now I feel like a princess using the word “suitors”).

On the upside it is one helluva distraction/moving on tactic to get over the boyfriend/recent dumping.

Send wine, send help, send love…

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!