How I Ended Up Giving Online Dating A Go – Revisited

Like a lot of people it was boredom, coloured by the occasional flash of loneliness, plus a deeper urge to re-join the push and pull of humanity that led me to online dating.

After the end of a two-decade-long marriage that included raising two primary-school-aged children, a secret part of me craved excitement: ideas, fun, laughter, the thrill of new friendship… and sex. The heady early years of mothering my babies had waned and loving them intensely and passionately didn’t fill me up quite as much.

I didn’t feel anything for months, least of all an interest in sex or men. I wasn’t grieving the loss of the marriage, because in my head I’d wanted out for a long time. It was actually a relief, and I loved being alone on those rare moments when I was kid-free.

But life and work and kids were complicated, and I needed to reground myself. Thinking back, I see now that I was emotionally numb – until I discovered a dormant interest in the opposite sex. It was something of a shock to find a throbbing heart in my chest and all the symptoms of a love-struck teen. I probably embarrassed myself by my all-out pursuit of this geeky tech manchild, ohso my type back then!

It was a total accident that I opened the door to online dating. I blame my friend and colleague – I guess if it wasn’t for her, I’d never have met my beloved.

Dating sites

Dating apps were intoxicating at first!

I committed myself to giving online dating a go for a year, to throw caution to the winds and explore what I’d been missing since the age of 21 when I’d got hitched. It ended up being a lot longer than a year, what with at least one six-month enforced celibacy block and some on-again-off-again app cancelling and re-subscribing. I think everyone does this – dating just gets too much at times.

I’ve always been idealistic and romantic – diving into the lows and floating blissfully with the highs – yet after so long in the one relationship, at first my wings felt clipped. My confidence was at rock bottom. Most people in long-term relationships feel this way, I’ve learned. Often, the complacency or invisibility sets in and you forget what sexual attraction is like. I’d thought I’d forgotten how to flirt and a part of me wondered if I’d ever get it back. (I needn’t have worried – it’s like riding a bike!)

Online dating messes with your head

I think that, the world over, we all agree about this. Its very nature encourages intimacy between strangers. It cloys confessions and drags declarations from us before we even know what we’ve revealed. Everything about the shopping-aisle of faces, swiping and texting is artificial. Online dating is the ultimate headfuck.

It’s so easy to rashly type something and then hit send with little thought for the consequences. After only a few days texting we can feel as if we’ve shared our innermost depths, and yet our minds gloss over the fact that we haven’t even met this person of our dreams.

This is because we’re ancient beings adapted to a very different life – one that’s lived in air and flesh, not one that’s conducted digitally via swiping keypad and quick-clicked images. And so what’s texted, whispered or messaged is real to us. It’s normal once we step through the doors of digital dating.

And ‘normal’ is about to get a whole new look.


PS – I’m revisiting and revising some of my earlier posts from 2017 when I only had a very few curious visitors. I hope you enjoy these stories if you’re a new reader.

What Not to Expect From Online Dating

Don’t Expect Too Much

Don’t expect truth and honesty, simplicity and easy silences, satisfying sex and ready-made intimacy, trust and transparency, straight-forward, no-games relationships. Do these qualities or destinations even exist?

Don’t expect to meet your match immediately. Don’t expect people to be true to their word. Don’t expect someone to show up at the time and place you’ve agreed to meet. Don’t expect someone to share their surname, or even their first name or phone number – for a while at least.

Don’t expect him to be monogamous, or her to be direct. Or vice versa. Don’t expect to be believed, honoured, appreciated or adored. Start with a blank canvass, reduce your expectations and then you won’t be disappointed. Expect the unexpected. Revel in the unknown. Explore your inner adventurer. Embrace opportunity.

I’m not going to lie to you about what this blog is and is not.

If you want to live vicariously through fluffy fantasy or saucy tell-all stories, or you’re searching for a simple, loose-ends-tied, neat and cheesy ending, this blog is not going to satisfy you. There’s no sugar coating here. There are blunt, difficult, confronting subjects butted right up against heartbreak, desire and soaring emotional highs.

And an awful lot of confusion.

I’m not here to dispense advice or paint myself as an expert. I won’t be telling you how to get laid, or how to increase your hit rate on a dating app. I’m clearly not expert at anything other than being authentically myself. Not that long ago, I was just an online dating virgin on a quest to enjoy life and give it my best shot.

I Gave Online Dating a Go for 3 Main Reasons

Firstly, as my colleague pointed out that day in the Asian diner, I wasn’t going to meet anyone new by sitting at home. I have little or no opportunity to meet men in any other way, in more traditional ways, if they even exist these days.

I’m beginning to think that these other avenues are no longer present in society. Research has shown that 61% of adults who have tried online dating say that it’s easier and more efficient than other ways of meeting people. I’m also a single parent in a small-ish city. My workplace or my children’s schools seem unlikely to deliver a person-of-interest. I love the way my life is so full but the downside is finding actual time to ‘date’ or meet men.

Secondly, online dating filled a niche for me and provided a world of opportunity. I need to insert a disclaimer at this point and make it clear that most of my dates were conducted in the day time. This does change the dynamic and also prevents some issues that can come up at night.

Thirdly, I wasn’t looking for Mr Right. Prince Charming was not on my agenda. I wasn’t even sure whether I was looking for anything. One thing was for certain, after a couple of decades in a monogamous marriage, I wasn’t looking to replicate the experience any time soon. I’ve heard that this attitude is not uncommon among ‘cougars’ online. In many ways, we are the antithesis of the stereotype often found in the media of the ‘desperate’ woman over 40!

We are looking for fun, on our terms.

As you read my stories, you might wonder why I haven’t just given it all up – decide to become a hermit who’s best friends with her vibrator. At times, the idea is tempting but I have stuck with it through thick and thin. I have been prepared to take the good with the bad, and to learn from and enjoy each interaction and experience as part of my journey as a human being.

In many ways, I’d led a sheltered life after being married so young. A couple of decades later, I was determined to live as fully and mindfully as my circumstances allowed me.
And I’ve certainly had a collection of mixed experiences, ideas and emotions that, together, offer a contrary narrative to the poplar ideal – the conventional story of Finding Love On The Internet.

‘Love’ by whatever name we give it, whether it’s romantic love, lust, affection, adoration, desire, infatuation and so on, drives so much of human behaviour and interaction. We all want some of it, we all want a taste and some of us want to live and breathe it and never let it go. Some of us want only the one bite, and others want to salivate lasciviously over the potential for sexual gluttony.

Wherever we feel we might sit on the spectrum will usually change as we live our lives. And I want some of it, in the name of life experience if nothing else.