It is incredibly difficult to meet a potential partner with a child in tow. People just assume you’re in a relationship. Work was a joke, there is a shortage of men teaching in primary schools. And (I hate to stereotype) the few sports coaches who did flatter the ladies, were usually straight out of college. Nights out with the ladies seem to have declined over the years as one by one, they found their prince charming, and produced offspring. The rare occasions when we did escape, you could not but help thinking this was your one and only time to meet someone, in a 5 hour window of opportunity. This only ever attracts those on their weekly mission for a casual one night stand. In my thirties, I would never lower my standards to this.
There was only one thing for it… online dating. Friend’s had met their husbands on free dating sites, and I guess I was intrigued. Writing a profile is a bit of a challenge for someone who is extremely modest such as myself. How do you blow your own trumpet without sounding like an egotistical ar**! Looking at other women’s profiles (for research purposes) was a huge mistake. My hidden competitiveness could not help but make an appearance. Their profiles were sexy, sassy and witty. It didn’t take long to reach the point of pressing the button, the button that made you become a piece of meat hung out for predators near and far to nibble on. And that’s just how it felt at first. Suddenly my inbox was inundated with winks, messages and invitations to chat. Perhaps this was a good sign. It could not help but feel wrong to scan through peoples profiles like they were CV’s. You soon got into a pattern of sieving through those who were of no interest to you, and detecting those who were players by key words hidden within their profiles. And the naked selfies in the mirror…. Well that was just desperate!!! But even through the commotion, you could not help but become addicted to the site, wondering if anyone new had entered the arena or whether your Mr Right was sitting behind a computer screen. It did not take me long to stop living in the real world, and excitedly hurry back home to my laptop to have a quick flirt or feeling giddy at the thought of going on a first date with someone you had been chatting with for a few weeks. This is where the problem occurred. A pattern was emerging, investing weeks to one person on the screen, whose photos gave the perception of a sex god, and the detailed profile lead me to believe that this was the perfect boyfriend. You could not help but build up a whole package in your head based on the snippets of clues offered to you through your laptop. Over time, this evolved further, until you had created your perfect avatar who you expected to meet during a perfect date. Unfortunately, reality was somewhat different. The person in front of you ended up being your avatar’s somewhat shorter and older cousin, with a tiny resemblance of the person on the computer screen, with a much squeakier voice and excitable mannerisms and gestures. After much conversation (well, if would be rude to leave after 10 minutes) it emerged that the business that they were CEO of, was actually a selling site on Ebay. There is only one thing that runs through your mind at this point… How the hell do I get out of this date quickly and painlessly? Needless to say, this was never achieved promptly by someone with impeccable manners and who feels some sort of loyalty to the person they had been speaking to over the past few weeks, as to not hurt their feelings. When you did escape, you knew the next dilemma you faced… How to let him down gently when you get the text saying that they hope you got home safe, and that they enjoyed your company and would love to do it again. Again, this is challenging for a nice person, to ignore the text would just be cruel. It always ended up as a polite cover up of the original ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ speech.
So, this went on for some time with the same pattern of events, ending with the deflated feeling that yet again, there was no spark when you met the person. You could not but help think that you were a commitment phobe or something. When you’re single, everyone around you looks happy in a relationship, and let’s face it, sometimes you cannot help but think that they must have settled for less. The more you thought about finding Mr Right, the more of an obsession it became. The loneliest times were the winter months which were bleaker than ever with no one to hibernate with. As were those sick days or bad days at the office where you craved for someone to hold you and tell you that everything will be okay.