This post was written exactly a year ago, and wow, what a journey I’ve had! Over this time I’ve explored, talked, pondered and adjusted my definition of a cougar, my ideas about relationships, and of course my opinions about the world of online dating.
So much has changed on a personal level for me, but so much remains the same in the common politics, themes, experiences and frustrations of digital dating as a way to meet people and form relationships.
I’m thrilled and honoured to welcome my 335th follower, and once again say thank you to the people who’ve read an article, story for two (or all!) and contributed their thoughts through personal feedback or comments. I love to read other people’s experiences and the best comments, for me, are those that give a little as well as observe from a distance.
Thank you everyone for almost 20,000 views from almost 5,500 people (visitors) and almost 1500 likes during this debut year.
So, what happens when you plunge headfirst into online dating, and download a dating app?
And, you’ll probably be labelled a cougar, even if you don’t like younger men!
I came to embrace my ‘cougar’ self as a tongue-in-cheek recognition of the way society pigeonholes women over 35.
Apart from being a romp through cougarland, this blog is unashamedly about reclaiming my midlife sexuality, post-motherhood.
The tumultuous ‘dating and mating’ rollercoaster forced me to grow and develop as I figured out what I like, what I don’t like, and ultimately what I want in this second half of my life.
In fact, I now see the word ‘cougar’ as a rebellious take on the outdated, patriarchal notion that women (unlike men) have a use-by date defined by their reproductive abilities, their appearance, their value according to men, and their clickability or appeal on social and mainstream media.
I’d even go as far as declaring that to be a cougar you can be a feisty, forthright and sexually empowered woman of any age – you don’t have to be attracted to younger men. You don’t even have to date men! You can date whoever you like!
At first, the cougar stereotype did not sit easily with me. I was a slightly awkward, intense and naiive online dating virgin.
But though I may have been innocent in that regard, I was certain that I would be no young man’s teacher, experimental sex plaything or time filler. If they were crazy enough to want me, they had to take me on my terms – and that included (ideally) having a strong intellectual bond, as well as a certain openness or lack of pretension.
But right back at the start, to use a quaint Aussie phrase, I didn’t know my arse from my elbow.
Picture This – The Defining Moment
Two workmates huddling intently over a smartphone screen in a tiny, steamed-up Asian diner during our lunchbreak. The air filled with the delicious aromas of Laksa and Pad Thai, smoky with quick wok frying for the throng of hungry customers.
“Go on,” she said. “It’s fun – and you’ll never meet anyone sitting at home.”
The dating app in question was called Skout and it changed my life. My friend persuaded me to install it on my phone, and from there, it was an instant whoosh of energy on that exhilarating joyride to somewhere new.
At first flirting came as naturally to me as pedalling the cobwebbed mountain bike in my shed, after a good decade of being ignored.
But within a very short time in this new world – exciting, ego-boosting but also crushing and disturbing – I needed to express what I was experiencing, to try to make sense of it.
No longer wide-eyed and youthful, I wasn’t used to being single. I was a dating ingénue.
I needed to relieve myself of the weight of strange experiences crowding my head, and to listen to the voice that said, ‘What the fuck?’ (And later, the smaller voice that said, ‘What the actual fuck?!’)
Writing it all down is natural for me but I also debrief with close friends, trying to figure out what I feel and get some insight into other people’s motivations or behaviour.
As time has gone on, I’ve continued this habit, mainly because I need to express and make sense of my experiences but increasingly, as this blog has grown and reached more people in the same position, because I love to share and read people’s reactions and advice.
As far as the WordPress community goes, blogging about dating, sex and relationships is great fun and these bloggers form an extremely supportive community.
The internet is an unpredictable space where almost anything goes. Social norms might fluctuate; vitriol and prejudice may be openly on display – but I prefer to remember that, underneath, we are all human. How we behave online is a topic I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.
There Are Some Very Rude People Online
The things people say to others online, when they are tucked up on the couch with their phone or sitting safely behind a keyboard and screen half way across the country (or the world,) really are incredible.
I reckon keyboard warriors are the bane of our modern world. And goddess help you if you are a woman on a dating site who says no, sorry you’re not my type. Or that you’re not interested. Or if you refuse to send a pic of your naked boobies, or worse, a pussy pic. FFS people – are you serious? How can you go from ‘Hi’ and polite chit-chat to ‘Will you send me a pic of your boobs?’
I like what sista blogger Fabulous and Forty has to say on this topic, especially what she terms FUCKBOYS.
They are probably the most prominent population on dating sites, equally matched by those desperate to find a partner before they lose all of their hair, or get even more unattractive or just plain old. Straight talking yes, but it’s scary out there.
Take a deep breath and prepare for the great variation of humanity if you are venturing online as a woman in the 21st Century. Brace yourself for dick pics, insults, insistent requests for nude photos, and best of all, ghosting.
These are all topics I love to explore, so if you haven’t had a good look in the sidebar of topics and stories I’ve covered, head over there now for some fun!