Little Miss Shy …Goes Online Dating

One of my besties recently brought this book back from the UK as a gift for me.

She’d seen the title and immediately thought of me – not that you’d think ‘shy’ as soon as you clap eyes on me, but she knows me well. (For those of you interested in the MBTI, check out INFJ).

This ‘adult take’ on the famous Mr Men is so ‘on point’ it’s not funny. It takes readers through the hilarious journey of peculiar and mismatched dates – here’s some dialogue to give you some idea:

“But we’re the perfect match!” said Mr S. Mall
Little Miss Shy slowly backed away and shut the door.
The next day she received an invoice for the chocolates he’d brought her, his travel costs and two weeks of therapy sessions.”

I love the way Little Miss Shy Goes Online Dating ends – stay tuned for that – and the modern social lens through which the book is viewed. It accepts not only the weird and wonderful world of online dating and the altered social landscape that the internet, smartphones and social media has wrought, but also the wider variety of ‘acceptable’ when it comes to relationships.

Nowadays we don’t have to settle for the traditional ‘walk-down-the-aisle-in-white’ type of marriage (although it’s personally shocking to me how that ideal has made a comeback). But while we’re talking marriage, it doesn’t have to be the mainstream concept of unquestioned monogamy either.

I’ll soon be adding my voice to the widespread social dialogue that’s been cooking in recent times about monogamy as a social ideal, and the problems inherent in that model we’ve been handed down through generations. So stay tuned for that.

The types of relationship options that exist now would be an anathema to my own parents and certainly to my great-grandparents. The idea of polyamory , RA (relationship anarchy)  or open marriages,  ‘living apart together’ or actively choosing to be single were mostly foreign concepts in previous generations.

Of course in our modern post-internet age it’s also acceptable, if not expected, that if you’re single you take opportunities to meet people and be sexually active. This is the ideal that most of us strive for, to sit somewhere on the spectrum of looking for ‘the one’, finding ‘the one’ or perhaps finding one or more relationships that make us feel content or potentially even ‘happy’ (that elusive state).

When I first considered the idea of ‘dating’ men again after my marriage of more than two decades imploded, I knew that I wasn’t ready to launch straight back into a monogamous relationship. I’d regularly bucked against that strangehold over the years, as many people do, and I was fresh out of ‘jail’ so I wasn’t about to leap back into a chastity belt with only one keyholder.

It had taken me a while to even recognise men as a desirable species so I was taking baby steps towards some kind of new life.

I also didn’t want to have to live up to someone’s expectations about the whole dating thang. I didn’t want to edge towards another live-in partnership.

And then there was sex. I wasn’t ashamed of my craving for sexual intimacy, in fact I saw it as my right and a driving factor in my search for meaningful experiences.

As regular readers will know, I have delved deep into the issues of perceptions of female desirability, and motherhood as a state that can potentially render us sexless or invisible.

Enter the creation of the MILF, the ‘yummy mummy’ and the cougar! I learned about all of these social constructs as a virgin in Online Dating World, after struggling in The Matrix with my eyes closed during those cocooning years of marriage and raising kids.

Although I grappled with being named a cougar or a MILF, I knew one thing for sure. Just because I’d gestated children and had a separate identity as Mum, it didn’t mean I had no right to a life of my own. My ex tried his best to bind me to sexless, maternal servitude but I remained determined to carve out a niche that gave me power, satisfaction and escape.

I also banned the word ‘should’ from my vocabulary. I ‘should’ be having candlelit dinner dates or walks along the beach? Nonsense. I didn’t have free nights, so my exploration was going to be conducted in daylight hours. I ‘should’ be dating men my own age? Rubbish. I’ll date anyone I damned please, and if young men are interested in me, all the better! I ‘should’ be looking towards another long-term partnership. Bullshit. I wanted to play the field and experiment. I’d been married my whole adult life, and I was just beginning to feel the first seeds of regret. I was glimpsing life on the other side, and the world of potential I saw was enticing.

But if I didn’t want marriage or monogamous partnership, what other choices did I have? What was there in the multifarious, shady world between casual sex and marriage?

To be continued…

bustier pic