Please don’t swipe left …

Is there an easier way to find love in your late forties?

Always blame the booze and day drinking!

So, on a rainy late Sunday afternoon, I download the dating app … yet again. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the glass (ok … make that two large glasses!) of NZ Sauvignon Blanc I’ve just consumed that has made me brave enough to do it (yeah …. always blame the booze and day drinking!).

The little red flame icon looks so cool amongst the banking and other grown-up apps on my phone and sparks learned feelings of hope, anticipation, and excitement within me — I love this part the most. It’s like you’re about to embark on a whole new journey and you’re just not sure if it’s going to be the last trip you take on your own as maybe this time you’re going to find someone you actually like!

Nearly five years ago the online dating world was a complete mystery and meant nothing to me. Back then I was married and blissfully unaware that I would be single again! Don’t get me wrong, being a divorced woman in my late forties, I’ve embraced my newfound freedom with open arms and I’m flourishing in every aspect with the new lease of life and independence that this second chance has given me … but I can’t find someone that I want to share my fabulous new life with. So, I have become quite the dating app connoisseur. I’ve been on all the popular ones … Tinder, POF, Hinge, and Bumble … each having its own unique set of guys to choose from.

I’ve tried other avenues of meeting guys — archery course, writing clubs, talking to strangers in the supermarket (don’t recommend that one you just get funny looks!). To find tips from the ‘expert relationship gurus’, I’ve watched endless YouTube clips handing out advice … ‘ignore them’, ‘lean back’, ‘chase them’, some of them suggesting that Mr. Perfect is hanging out at coffee shops waiting for me … but I only ended up finding Mr. Grumpy and Tired who was more in desperate need of his daily caffeine fixes and getting his loyalty card stamped than meeting me!

“Romeo seeking his Juliet”, “Glam Gran searching for a young studmuffin” and “Hans Solo seeking Princess Leia … no Jabbas or Ewoks!!”

It doesn’t help that I’m a hopeless romantic — I also have been. When I was growing up, I used to read my dad’s newspaper after he’d finished with it, and once a week there was a column that I would devour — the ‘lonely hearts column’. It was my weekly ritual to read the funny little ads, placed by people who were hidden behind assumed identities … “Romeo seeking his Juliet”, “Glam Gran searching for a young studmuffin” and “Hans Solo seeking Princess Leia … no Jabbas or Ewoks!!”

Ok … so I might have made some of them up, but you get the gist and they presented me with hours of entertainment when I was a young teenager. I would make up stories behind the adverts, imagining what they looked like and how they would meet the love of their lives. I found the ads funny and yet at the same time quite sad. Looking back on it now, as I’m in the same position as those lonely people, it makes me feel awful for being so naïve and childlike and quite ashamed at how much joy I took in reading their pleas for love on the pages of the newspaper just to chuckle at them. Maybe Karma is real?

I always thought that pursuing a love interest by placing an ad was quite a new thing to do, so I was really surprised to read that it can be traced back to the late 1600s in England. But of course, the ads in the newspapers back then did have a grander feel to them and contained more finesse than you’ll ever find on Tinder or Bumble these days. Most of them were placed by men and there’s such a common similarity in the ads that run right through from those days to the modern apps and not a ‘dick pic’ or ‘Hey ‘sup!’ insight back in the 1600s!

…‘good teeth, soft lips and sweet breath … with a bosom full, plump, firm and white’ …

These days most of the choices are made in milliseconds with a swipe to the left or the right — judgments based entirely on looks from both men and women. Back in the 1700’s men still chose their soulmates based on their preference for the visual by describing their ideal woman. One such advert asked for ‘… good teeth, soft lips, and sweet breath … with a bosom full, plump, firm and white ..’ Another man of few words and low expectations simply wanted a woman with no physical deformities!’.

“I want a woman to look after the pigs while I am out at work”

But my favourite one by far was a potato farmer who had been widowed for just over a year desperately seeking a wife. He was searching for a woman who could look after his children and his pigs during the day for him while he worked. He offered his new wife money, security, and somewhere secure to live — and probably as many potatoes as she wanted — you don’t get offers like that anymore do you?

It seems that then, and today, men were peacocking their wealth, job, and status whilst setting out impossibly high expectations requesting that the women, they were seeking be good-looking, wealthy, educated (but not too much probably!).

Delete and Retreat!

I can only manage to be on the dating apps for very short periods — normally a week or so before my soul gets crushed and my self-esteem gets bashed. It’s hard work being on those apps — I’ve been ghosted, catfished, and once was trolled so badly it actually made me cry … so when it all gets too much, I delete and retreat’ back to my normal lovely life to recoup my battered feelings and hang out with my girlfriends, read, write and watch naff films on Netflix.

“I’m going to die alone and my Labradors are going to eat me”

But then after a few weeks, I start to get that niggle deep down feeling again … the little doubts that fire up in the very back of my mind with the passing of time … “I’m going to be on my own forever, I’m never going to find the one” …. “I’m going to die alone and my Labradors are going to eat me” — yeah that’s a real thought of mine so I keep them very well fed just in case!

Over the past year, I’ve chatted with lots of different guys and have been on quite a few dates but not one guy in particular that I see myself with and would like to see again. I know I sound a bit jaded and whingey but dating in your late forties is really hard.

I seem to be in-between age groups stuck in the late forties dating wilderness. I’m too old for the guys who are on a mission to settle down and have a family, and yet too young for the older group of guys who are about to retire. Men my age are newly divorced and just out to ‘have fun!’ and then there are the younger ones (talking late 20s!) to them I’m a cougar … something strange about this — as I find it very hard to be attracted to someone that I could have given birth to!

BDSM and NSA and Unicorns … oh my!

Online dating gives you access to a whole new world. It is like a secret club that you join to get VIP access to the rest of the members. You enter this new club full of hope trying to find a member that you really like so you can both check out, cancel your memberships, and live happily ever after!

This secret world has a language all of its own and it pays to learn as quickly as possible … NSA, BDSM, Unicorns, Poly, ONS, IRL, DTF, FWB …. It’s all a learning curve to the uninitiated and I’ve had to google the meanings of some of them before I got myself into some tricky situations!

Messages flit back and to most of the week, but really the sites really come alive on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights with people desperately trying to find dates for the weekend. Strangely it goes quiet on Friday and Saturday nights … probably because most of its members are out on said dates and then Sundays are a frenzy of activity … mostly with everyone back on the sites to find someone new as the previous evening hasn’t gone as well as expected and they’re ready to start the cycle all over again. That’s the thing with the apps — as you chat with someone you always wonder if there’s someone else even better just another swipe away?

I read somewhere that dating in your late 40s is like trying to find the least damaged item in a charity store that doesn’t smell!

This community of lost souls (wow I’m being a tad dramatic today — definitely the wine!) is like a haven for people from all walks of life. Some of the guys just seem to be lonely and want to ‘chat’ with a female and have no intention of meeting up for real and I feel for these guys. A lot of them can’t communicate and only talk in statements and then normally when the whole conversation has dried up, I’ve lost the will to live and I’ve got a bad back from carrying the conversation … they finally ask their first question “Do you not want to talk anymore?” I read somewhere that dating in your late 40s is like trying to find the least damaged item in a charity store that doesn’t smell …. I tend to agree and boy there’s a real stench on some of the sites!

Some of the dates I’ve been on have been very ‘ interesting ‘— actually strike ‘interesting’ and make that ‘very very weird!’. Including the guy who openly told me on our third date that he was on the site as it was cheaper to take someone out to dinner than pay the prostitutes he’d been sleeping with — nice! One got completely hammered drinking six pints of lager and then downed a bottle of wine — I had to give him a lift home as he was so out of it he couldn’t talk to order himself an Uber. One had anger issues and proceeded to shout and punch at a passing car, and the latest one wanted to know how much super I had saved to see if it would make up what his ex-wife was taking from him in the divorce settlement (on our first date!) … hence I’m still single!

And then, of course, there’s the only one that I’ve met in 3 years on the apps that I liked from the first message. I clicked with him and found him incredibly attractive in every way possible, I honestly thought that he could be the one, yet he turned around and told me he only saw me as a friend — that’s the harsh reality of dating these days, it really hurts when it doesn’t work out.

The Love Fairy’s Wand!

Back to that Sunday afternoon, and I ponder the left or the right swipe yet again, obsessed with the ‘bing’ my phone makes each time I match with a potential suitor I realise that I love that noise — it’s the noise of potential. Each ‘bing’ is like the wave of the love fairy’s wand teasing me that this match could be ‘the one’ … only for me to look on with disappointment as they haven’t even written a profile about themselves!

So as my wine buzz wears off a little, the ‘bings’ slowly decrease for the evening. I wonder how long I’ll manage on the dating app this time before I have to ‘delete and retreat’ again. So, being the good English girl I am, I put the rest of the wine safely back in the fridge and I put the kettle on to make a cup of tea. My phone is set to DND and I retreat to my bedroom and escape into the world of my Kindle with two very happy and well-fed labradors!

I’m not sure what the future holds for me and if I’ll carry on with the dating apps. But maybe eventually … hopefully … I’ll meet myHans Solo or my Potato Farmer’ … maybe …

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Jo Lucas

Jo Lucas

💖 I’m just a wannabe writer, poet and avid daydreamer … I write from my heart and I write how I speak, so it’s full of love and honesty 💖