First off, I have a confession to make: I’m 55 and have just been on my first date in 37 years!
Sounds amazing doesn’t it?
I was married for 28 years and divorced for 8 years and have only just felt ready to “get out there again”. It’s strange isn’t it – I run a successful business, have heaps of friends, have a very active social life but have only just felt ready to date again.
I haven’t been waiting for an epiphany but was just waiting to feel ready. I knew all along that I would never date while my adult children were at home – right or wrong that was something that I would never consider doing – not for any reason other than that I didn’t feel comfortable about it.
My daughters in particular had broached the subject on several occasions like each time an eHarmony ad came on TV! Their comments ranged from “you SO need to do that mum” to “whenever you’re ready, I’ll do your profile for you”. Bless their little cotton socks.
But the truth was that I didn’t feel ready. I felt that my life was full already and I wasn’t keen to mess that up. I was fulfilled and social and active and I was scared!!
I didn’t trust myself – I’d made a poor choice before so could I be trusted to make the right choice this time? I had lost a lot of “stuff” that I’d worked very hard for last time and was certainly not going to repeat the experience. I had heard SO MANY bad stories of people forming relationships on the internet that ended in disaster – and then I sat back and had a good hard look at myself.
No way was I the same person that I was when I was 18. I now had a very healthy self-esteem and a healthy ego. I knew who I was and what I wanted and I was no longer afraid to voice those opinions. I felt that my “spidey senses” were well tuned and trustworthy. I was a strong and independent woman who could navigate the bumps in the road that life sets for you. I had developed resilience. I was making good choices.
I looked at my core values to see what was really important to me and decided to base my assessment of a potential partner on those. For me, accountability and responsibility were at the top of my list.
I promised myself that I would be true to myself through the whole process. That I would actively have my say and speak my mind. That I would dress as I felt most comfortable and appropriate. That I would honestly agree to outings – yes I will go to the football with you because I enjoy your company and I know you like it but no matter how many times we go, I am NEVER going to like it! And by the way I’ve booked the theatre for next Saturday night.
To screen out the inappropriate, I decided to engage a dating agency. I had had a work mate who had used this agency before so on her recommendation I booked myself in for an appointment. I hoped that by using an agency my privacy would be maintained and that the people I was introduced to would have similar interests and values. The woman I spoke to was frank, open and friendly. She spoke with authority and was good at eking out my core values. She even surprised me with some of the things she drew out. Apparently men in our age group hide away once widowed or divorced so while she could promise a match every three weeks if I was in my 20s or 30s she said that in my age group and above it was realistically five weeks.
So I signed up on the spot, patted myself on the back and left it in the hands of the Gods. Six weeks later the phone rang. We spoke on the phone for 15 minutes, confirmed that we had something in common and agreed on a time and place to meet.
Then there’s the question of dating behaviour – how the hell do I know what’s appropriate? I presume the rules have changed in the last 37 years.
Now the best thing about using an agency is that they leave nothing to chance. After you sign up you receive a folder with the do’s and don’ts of dating – one for the boys and one for the girls. All the rules carefully lain out. Four pages long. This is an amazing idea and takes all the pressure off the meeting. You know that the first call is only to set the place and time. You have topics to discuss and ones to avoid. You know that he will offer to pay on the first date and that it is expected that you reciprocate or pay half on the second. You are told not to get too intimate or too friendly too soon but rather to spend time getting to know them first. You are told that if he offers to walk you to your car or cab that he means just that – he is being a gentleman and isn’t about to go the grope. Perfect!
So how did it go?
He messaged to let me know that he’s arrived and what he was wearing so I could identify him in the bar. He stood to greet me and shook my hand (much to the amusement of the lady at the next table who kept giving me knowing smiles over the lip of her wine glass). We spent a very pleasant afternoon by the river with a glass of wine and spoke of food and travel and kids. Is he the love of my life? No I don’t think so but it was lovely to feel special again. To remember what it felt like to date and explore the possibilities of a relationship. To have someone treat you with respect and hope and to realise that they are after the same thing – at best a long term relationship and if that isn’t on the cards, then perhaps a new friend to spend some time with.
We’re going to lunch again on Sunday. I’ll keep you posted.
Original article can be found here.
Tell us, have you shared a similar experience? Did you find it hard to date again after divorce?