Yesterday lunchtime I had a first date with a guy I met on Plenty of Fish. As soon as I saw him getting out of his car from a distance, I had already decided that I wouldn’t be seeing him again. Attraction is instant. It’s either there in the flash of an eye or it isn’t. And when it isn’t there’s no amount of self convincing that you can do.
Last night in the bar at Speakers Club somebody said something to me; a thought which held great resonance. By the morning I had decided… and despite our 4 hour date, holding hands across the table in a beamed country pub on a village green, our eyes connecting and holding each other’s gaze, the conversation flowing with ease, laughter, humour – all the essential ingredients in the mix for a developing friendship there was something fundamentally missing, for me.
‘I’ve got an 8 year old daughter,’ the someone had said in the bar at Speakers’ Club. ‘And she’s going through that gorgeous stage. The pre teen stage.’ I found myself agreeing totally with him. My 10 year old is gorgeous. We play Uno, we snuggle up and watch films together, she shows me the tapestries she’s doing, her bed is still lined with cuddly toys and there are rows of lip glosses on her dressing table. The pre teens are so precious and yet in the blink of an eye it will all be gone, committed to history as the difficult teen years slug into the picture and the surliness begins. Do I really want to miss the final two years of childhood for a man? Actually no, I don’t.
Dating in middle age is tough. These are the ‘sandwich years’: we have elderly parents to look after but our children haven’t left home yet. We are still working, many of us still paying our mortgages or even renting. Life is frantic. We have lifelong interests and hobbies too that are important to us. Where would a relationship fit into this frenetic life I wonder?
But there’s something else that’s important too. Men have always dated younger women. That’s just the pattern of things, the custom in our culture. But actually in middle age I would rather date a younger man. Men in their 50s look so much older generally speaking than women in their 50s. My hair would be white if I didn’t dye it. I try to keep it unchanged. I wear make up to enhance my skin. I have a sagging belly and fat arms now I’m older and my neck doesn’t look great but men at the same age have often lost all their hair or it’s grey. Many are broad or big. When I looked at my date yesterday it felt as if I was dating a man my mum might have dated. He was a bit older than me but looked so much older.
As I sat looking at him and wondering what the situation was with his neck and double chins you could count on one hand I tried to imagine myself in bed with him.I wondered how far off prostrate problems he was. I tried to imagine him meeting my kids. And that seemed surreal. He talked about retirement and pensions – a topic of conversation on dates these days. For me this all seems a long way off.
I wouldn’t want to sleep with him. In fact there are very few men in their 50s that I would want to sleep with. I want a younger man! Is that allowed? What gives men the right to date younger women? Why can’t it be the other way around because actually as we get older this is a better natural order of things!
Thanks for reading!