I’ve spent my entire adult life in relationships, so to be single and in my 40s is not only a new concept, but one I reckon I view a whole different way than if I’d been single in my twenties.
I never really liked myself very much when I was younger. This, I’m sure, is what contributed to me jumping from relationship to relationship, thinking I ‘needed’ to be loved and in a ‘committed’ relationship. Hence why my marriage lasted a grand total of three months.
I clearly made bad decisions, decisions not right for me, which is why I think being single now is actually working in my favour. I like myself, so I know what I am actually looking for and what I will not put up with.
The hard part about being single now is simply finding the time to meet people. I am sure I don’t have to tell anyone how fucking hard it is to juggle working fulltime with keeping a child and a dog alive without completely losing your shit. So, spending time on the lookout for love is not as high on the agenda as something contrary such as, oh I don’t know, sleeping.
So, generally the fallback is to try the apps… where shit gets really real, really quick…
We’ve all heard the stories and the experiences of online dating apps with shit profile pics that generally make choosing which way to swipe too fucking hard (get rid of the SnapChat filters, the kids, the exes, the twenty three other people, the drugged animals, the guns, the bathroom/gym/bedroom selfies…). But the big game changer for me is that guys don’t seem to want to take the time to get to know me, once we’ve matched.
This manifests in two ways. The man you match with who then ghosts after one text message (or without even making it to one text message), and the man you match with who goes from zero to one hundred in the space of two text messages.
Allow me to explain…
I matched with a ‘gentleman’ (yes, I use this term very loosely) one evening and we swapped helloes before I went to sleep. The next morning I woke to find a message from Mr Zero to One Hundred: ‘How are you? I am so horny and wish I was in bed with you right now.’
In what corner of the stratosphere does he think that strategy will ever work for him? Unmatch.
This behaviour is not limited to the sanctuary of online apps, either. Here is a conversation I had recently…:
Him – Hi
Me – Hey, how’s your night been?
Him – Great. Whose home are we going back to? Yours or mine?
Something that has shocked me slightly is the absolute fucktonne of men out there quite comfortable with the concept of cheating. Either that, or I just attract the cheaters.
One of the worst was after a couple of weeks of messaging each other, the man in question and I decided to try and arrange a drink. While we were planning when and where, he quite calmly said he was unable to make a certain date because ‘Mrs [insert surname] would be home then.’ Um, excuse me? ‘Oh, I thought you knew I was married’. No, no I did not and, by the way, what sort of person do you think I am?
I will admit to on one or two occasions, thinking, “Well, I don’t know her, this will clearly be a one night stand, is it up to me to care? I am completely aware that it is wrong, but should I be the one who cares?” Yes, yes I should. And yes, I do.
Another thing I struggle to get on board with is the idea of having a lot of matches on the go at once. I’m generally a ‘I like this guy, so I’ll stop messaging the others’ kind of person, but so many times I’ve been on the receiving end of the ‘I’ve met someone else on here’ message, or the casual line dropped on a date of ‘I had two other dates this week’. My rush to be monogamous generally means I put all the dating eggs into the one match. I need to either get over myself, or get over the fact that I’m always coming in second (or third.. or last…!).
While a lot has changed, there is one thing that is the same. Still in my 40s I am too shy/nervous/gutless to put myself on the line. I cannot picture myself just saying ‘I like you, let’s give this a crack’. There is a cat and mouse game that is still played today just like it was when I was younger. God forbid I be the first person to put it all on the line! I am simply not brave, nor confident enough, to do so.
I will confess to enjoying my single-life most of the time. It’s kind of fun. Zero fucks has kind of been my motto the past couple of years (ironically…!), which has resulted in zero regrets, which is great. I sent a message to my best friend the other day (I was struggling to back it up, to meet her for a drink), along the lines of ‘I am in fine form, I’ve had a grand total of two hours’ sleep and I have a man’s wallet in my handbag’.
I know people are judging me. I also know when I was in my twenties, I’d see the forty year old in the club or pub and judge. I know I should have this well and truly out of my system by my age, but in my own defence this is the first time I have been single for a very looooooooooooooooooooong time. In any case, why should I be ashamed? I’m not hurting anyone…
… other than myself, if I’m honest. Because, let’s be clear – there is no way I want this to continue forever.
What I want is that great, cannot-live-without-you kind of love. My person. I miss that level of intimacy. However, my inherent desire to have that has caused me to make bad decisions in the past. To rush into things and force people into relationships because I fear I’ll die before I find my perfect man.
When I say perfect, I mean the man who will adore me and cherish me, who will whisk me off on romantic dates, sing the songs he has written for me (yes, I am serious…!), protect me, and adult for me every now and then. I am capable, resilient, blah blah blah, but fuck me, I would like to have someone take care of me for a little while.
I’m a walking contradiction, I am well aware of that.
I read somewhere recently that if 99% of people in the world are not attracted to you, it means there are 75,000 people in the world who are. Surely amongst that one per cent is my forever person?
“I wondered what happened when you offered yourself to someone, and they opened you, only to discover you were not the gift they expected and they had to smile and nod and say thank you all the same.” Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper.