A female, a Mum and the Dating Game. Entering the Jungle And Surviving. Part 1 : Getting started
I couldn’t enter the clubs and pubs one more time. The sleaziness, the desperation of lonely people, sordidness of married men preying on vulnerable women, the superficial interaction of yelling into someone’s ear, the disheartening feeling that no one wanted anything to do with a mother in her mid thirties with 3 children ages between 3 and 12.
it was all based on physical appearance. Nothing to do with what you had to offer intellectually or who you were below the superficial presence. There must be a better way!
Once deciding I was ready to move on into a new relationship it was hard. Hard in the fact that I wondered, would I be attracted to anyone and would anyone be attracted to me. If someone had a crystal ball and said, on the 14th of October 20 you will meet a wonderful person, then you’d say, ok, and just get on with your life, knowing the universe had it sorted and in a couple of years there’d be this person who made me feel loved again.
For me I had a void and wondering if I would ever meet anyone I connected with and was attracted to seemed unlikely. And it’s hard to say to yourself if it’s meant to be it will be, be patient, just live your life.
I do think as you get older it’s harder to make friendships let alone meet a person you are physically attracted to and really connect with. I didn’t feel there were a lot of new people coming into my life.
My son started playing for our local football team. My kids went to a school outside our local area. They didn’t attend the local state school they went to an independent school, our choice, a decision Harry and I had made. Independent schools are non government school that charge a fee for education, the school that offered a similar education was the local Catholic school Salesian College. Although Harry was Catholic we had christened our children Uniting Church which was what faith I was christened. The children attended an Anglican school outside our local area. Long story why they never went to the Catholic school. As a result I didn’t know many people from our local area. When I would go to watch Archie play footy, I noticed the mums would politely say hello but then stand in their huddle and chatter. It felt like by the time people had kids and they had gone to school, friendships had been formed and people in their busy lives didn’t need more friends, they weren’t looking for a new mum they saw once a week at training and on match day to join their pack.
So not only was it hard to break into new friendship circles it was just hard meeting new people outside your usual married circle of friends.
Computers in the early 2000’s were still a relatively new concept in our household and social media was quite primitive. Computers were still boxy and had big motherboards and their definitely wasn’t camera phones let alone smart phones.
Still one night after deciding the bars and night scene wasn’t for me, I sat at my desk, turned on my computer and googled RSVP, the dating site Karen had told me about.
At some level I felt like a failure. A failure that I couldn’t meet someone the old-fashioned way. No glance across a room, someone’s single friend who I just clicked with, a by chance interlude with a male work colleague. I had failed to be able to be alluring or attractive to anyone. Instead of thinking that I hadn’t met anyone who met I believed I deserved, I saw myself as a failure.
My confidence was down. No one wanted a 36-year-old women with 3 kids ages 4 through to 12. I was short, unattractive small breasted, I didn’t have the body men in their late 30’s were attracted to. One of my friends partners had the audacity to say to me, ‘ I wouldn’t go out with a small breasted women’. What are these people thinking, do they have no emotional IQ. Your vulnerable and you don’t need any more self-doubt. I felt like saying, ‘well I wouldn’t go out with anyone with a fat mans belly like you!’ Instead I bit my tongue.
What I had experienced from the single night out scene was that it was all about your looks and having very little baggage as well. Not a lot different to high school.
The tall pretty and cool girls got the guys. Intelligence didn’t come into it, or what you had achieved in your life or career. Because the only talking interaction was what you could yell into each other’s ears over loud music. And someone only wanted that superficial interaction if you looked ok to them.
Men instinctively are first attracted by the physical. If you don’t meet their expectation then they probably won’t pursue interaction much further was my experience.
The way online dating worked then was, you put a profile up with or without a picture. If someone liked you they sent you a ‘kiss’ and if you wanted to have conversation with those people you bought ‘stamps’.
Stamps allowed you to email each other through the RSVP website without having to use your own email address for privacy reasons and security. Depending on how many emails you could send before purchasing more.
On reading the profiles of men, I found it intriguing that 40 and 50 year olds would boldly state they were looking for 25 year olds.
Another where the profile pictures. Men standing with their cars, or on motor bikes in a way that possession was their pride and joy was not enticing to me.
Everyone seemed to love walking on the beach and reading the newspaper.
You could set a km radius, a catchment zone so to speak. I put something like 100km from memory. Many I had spoken to over time only put 10km. Once again to me that showed lack of flexibility. Why not widen the search for more variety of people. Allow opportunity. If it was the right person then a man will move mountains to be with you, right? Not forgetting I was living in a family and single parent populated area.
I had also liked the idea of moving to a new area so distance wasn’t a barrier for me. For me I wanted to meet someone for a long-term relationship where living together would be an option. If this wasn’t something the other person was wanting then I would’ve considered if I was prepared to continue with the catchups, dates, whatever you want to call them.
I think it’s important when starting to date that you are clear on what type of relationship you are looking for, what are your deal breakers. Know them and stick with them, other things can be compromised on.
Age was consideration. I didn’t want a man younger than me nor much older. I’d set my limit on 6-10 years older but preferably no more than 6.
I am attracted to motivated intelligent men, occupation wasn’t a deal breaker but someone with good work ethic was. I prefer men in professions however if a male I was attracted to was a trades person it didn’t really matter. I once went out to dinner with a divorced man who had decided to spend all his savings and cash on going to England and playing county cricket. That was great for him but having had a home myself, an asset, someone like him who at dinner told me he didn’t want a high maintenance partner didn’t inspire me to take this one dinner any further.
What was ‘high maintenance’ to him. I’m not sure, but I had no interest in finding out. Just the mere phrasing was off-putting. I in my mid 30’s at least wanted someone who had some asset to show for their 40 years of life and working life to date, some ambition as I was bringing to the table. I wasn’t interested in a man who had spent everything he had on playing county cricket. Some women may find that alluring but I didn’t.
I didn’t have it all figured out when I started dating but I soon started to work out what was important to me as I spoke to men along the way. Just as I’m sure they do as they spend time with women on their journey.
Men say women ‘let themselves go’, but what I discovered was that plenty of men do as well. They dress poorly and take little care in appearance, grooming and general weight and health care. The men who were well-groomed, healthy looking specimens had a sea of attractive healthy women to choose from and upto 10-15 years younger than them. I didn’t feel I stood a chance with these men. Remember, I was 5’1, small breasted and had 3 children. And all the messages I seemed to receive was that no one wanted that. So it was somewhat disheartening when I would open my inbox of my RSVP account and had a look at what was on offer. What my public profile was attracting.
Harry my now deceased husband, was a tall, intelligent, witty good-looking man. I had certainly hit the jackpot with him. The men sitting in my inbox were not that enticing. Either they looked like jocks standing in front of their motor bike or car, or unattractive to me physically, daggy, big bellies or had a profile content that didn’t inspire me.
In between my online dating I was set up with men from well-meaning people. There definitely has to be some physical attraction and an intellectual attraction. One guy told me how his wife was a lesbian and how he was diabetic and his life sounded complicated. Another man I went to a restaurant with where we were seated in front of a now closed off door. There was a draft coming in under the door. I commented how the draft was making me cold. He then with the knife from the table knocked it against his leg. Tap tap I heard. It wasn’t the sound of flesh but of something artificial and solid. He clearly had a prosthesis. He commented how he didn’t feel the cold and the conversation continued with him telling me that he had osteogenesis imperfecta this problem caused to bones breaking very easily, so easily putting a seat belt on could and had fractured a rib which he had experienced.
I sat there looking at him. At this point tears started to swell in my eyes. Yes I became the date that started to cry. Not because he had this unfortunate terrible syndrome but because I had been on so many dates and this was another I knew for me would go no further than this dinner. What had my life become and where was it going. I felt sorry for his situation.
I was exhausted by it all. It wasn’t necessarily that he had a prosthesis it was that the trauma of caring for a dying husband, caring for him, doctors appointments and constantly scared about our future the thought of taking on someone else who had an illness that was ongoing and serious I knew I emotionally couldn’t take on.
He most likely saw me as some crazy women who needs to get her shit together, someone who was an emotional mess and I probably was. At that point I was really questioning what was I doing there, why was I putting myself through all this. Everyone says you don’t need a man in your life to be happy and I didn’t.
I’m a firm believer that happiness comes from within, no one person can make you happy nor should anyone be responsible for your happiness. Over time my life had become happy to a point but because I had experienced such joy spending my life with someone I loved, sharing all the happiness about life, I wanted that feeling again. It was the one thing that was missing from my life.
I hated going home from functions alone, leaving restaurants and walking down dark side streets to get to my car without anyone really aware if I made it home ok, or going home from work knowing no one was coming home to me, and shutting the door after a great night with friends and going to bed alone. I wanted to share my life with someone who I loved and loved me and all the sprinkles on the sundae that feeling gives. The cherry on top feeling.
There was a void, an emptiness. Then one day I received ‘a kiss’ from a guy on my RSVP profile that looked ok. After a few short emails he informed me he was a policeman. This was like a warm blanket being put over my shoulders on a cold winters night. Harry had been a policeman and I was comfortable and familiar with them. They had been our friends and he was part of the brotherhood. He ‘was in the job’.
For me moving forwards with this relationship had a lot to do with feeling at ease and comforted by a sense of familiarity. However as much as someone’s occupation means they have some similar traits it doesn’t mean they are the same people.
Harry was well liked, well-respected and loved his job and keen for promotion. This guy was quiet and had few friends. I didn’t see his quietness as a bad thing. extroverts can be exhausting me to be around. Quiet unassuming people with a quiet confidence can be very alluring to me.
I called this new love of mine The Lone Ranger. We entered into a 3 year relationship all the time me trying to work out what made him tick. I had fallen I think, in love with familiarity and perhaps not so much with him, and him not so much with me as it turned out. He had no children and that was the centre of many issues as I had three and a sole parent who doesn’t get to send her children to their fathers every second weekend of half of the school holidays which gave us no just ‘us’ time. He stepped into being a full-time parent with very different views in parenting. He needed there to be parent only zones in my house. The children could come to the doorway of the formal lounge and had to talk to us from there. They couldn’t sit with us if we were in this room. I had NEVER lived or parented like that. These sort of rules caused great conflict as they didn’t sit well with me.
But like all relationships it isn’t just one-sided. It takes two to tango and I wasn’t perfect either. On reflection I still had a lot to work through and I didn’t even know it.
An example was at Christmas. I was 16 when I met Harry. Below explains my life with Harry.
.When death comes knocking at your door on some idle Tuesday afternoon.
Harry was my first real love and only long-term relationship. I knew no other way than us and how our relationship worked. I found myself on a steep learning curve in a new relationship.
When you have only ever experienced life as a couple one way that’s all you know as normal. It’s the little things, routines and new traditions I’d formed over 17 years with Harry going from a 16-year-old teenager to a 32-year-old mother of 3. Now at 52, writing this I was so young. 32 and being a mother of three children. So many 30 year olds these days don’t have any children still and may have only recently become independent and moved out of the parents home. Harry and I didn’t get married young because of any specific religious or family reason other than we had been dating since we were 16 and 18 year olds, in love with careers on track and this was the next step and different times.
Every Christmas Harry and I once the children finally fell asleep, which was inevitably late due to the excitement the pending arrival of Father Christmas brought, Harry and I would stay up late preparing the gifts ‘from Santa’. Sometimes this would be until 1am.
I remember The Lone Ranger at my place, going to bed saying he was tired Christmas Eve leaving me to wrap the presents and prepare for Christmas morning on my own. I felt so angry at him, why wasn’t he helping, why didn’t he share the wrapping of the presents, this was part of the Christmas experience. I reflected afterwards on this as I knew he hadn’t really done anything wrong. That way of ‘doing’ Christmas was my tradition not his. This was another light bolt moment in my journey if moving forwards, I was at another crossroad.
I learnt people come from different upbringings and experiences, their own traditions and that it’s ok for us to have different traditions and expectations. There’s no ‘right’ way to experience certain events in our lives. I needed to become ok with allowing my new partner to experience their traditions or ways of doing Easter, Christmas etc and be ok with me now doing my tradition my own. Neither way was wrong. With time those individual traditions with love, compassion and compromise, knit together to become your evolving new tradition that’s unique to you as a couple.
The relationship with the Lone Ranger didn’t work out and perhaps in another blog I will speak in more depth about him. The one thing I will say about online dating is that it does allow you to meet new people outside your current group of friends. It broadens the interaction of people you would never have met going about your ordinary life. It exposes you if you are willing to people of different education and lifestyle experiences.
There were times between my online experiences that I tried speed dating. I was tiring of the energy that the email, meet in person situation was taking and the emotional toll. The feeling of hope to feeling of disappointment sometimes despair. I found it hard to find someone I connected to and was also physically attracted to.
I thought with speed dating I could cull 10 guys in one evening or sitting. I would have to say for me, speed dating felt like one of the most demoralising situations I have ever found myself in.
You all meet at a designated venue. As you enter an empty bar or cafe that’s been booked for just this purpose you look at the young staff who I always felt were looking back with a judging eye. I know this may have all been in my head as I have no proof of this but I remember one particular bar in the city, there was a young good-looking barman cleaning glasses with a tea towel who was accompanied by 2 other young female staff members behind the bar.
He smiled at us as we entered but I felt like he was looking back with an almost look of humour on his face. That he found this intriguing and entertaining. For me I was entering feeling very aware of why I and everyone else was here. We were all looking for a partner, all with our own stories to tell and probably not seeing it as intriguing and entertaining.
My speed dating set ups were 5 or so minutes with each person. The good-looking and charismatic people of the world don’t seem to need these artificial single scene scenarios. They are like magnets. People of the opposite sex just gravitated naturally to them. So here all us average people were. I left every one of those interludes sad and broken. I never met up with any of those people ever outside that one 5 minute one-on-one talk. I probably did about half a dozen of these and figured I didn’t feel I was going to meet the type of guy I was looking for at speed dating. I did have some interesting conversations with some of the females there whilst waiting at the start and the mingle time at the end and felt they were more interesting than any of the men.
So it was back to online dating again after The Lone Ranger and I had ended our relationship.
I knew I was in a better place. The idea of another policeman for my partner was the furthest thing from my mind. I was ready to explore options of someone completely different. Once I eventually gotten around to putting up a new profile after the heartbreak of my failed online dating relationship I decided I didn’t want to put a profile picture up. Over the 3 years I had been with The Lone Ranger online dating had picked up some traction and I had recognised some work colleagues photos and the embarrassment of being recognised by them was highly likely.
I alway believed there are good men who are single, sometimes through no fault of their own or sometimes due to circumstances they have grown from and trying to move forwards. Good men looking for honest, intelligent good women. You have to believe in yourself, know the deal breakers for you, stay true to yourself, know your worth, remind yourself often what a good relationship should look like, be prepared to step out of your comfort zone, and believe me I had well and truly stepped outside mine. Also remember, ‘A man will treat you how you allow him to treat you’. Demand respect, behave respectfully. The importance of good manners, emotional intelligence and genuine kindness can never be underestimated.
So one night, after the kids were in bed I made up a profile with no picture displayed and sent off a ‘kiss’ to a handful of men whose profile looked ‘ok’ out of 1000 profiles I viewed . That’s right 1000. It was bit before Christmas and I think the Christmas loneliness had set in and that was probably a motivator to search through and find those few profiles that stood out. I sat myself up in my bed on a mission. I’d look through 1000 profiles that night, the quota I set myself.
Of that handful of men from memory everyone replied including Ted.
They sent back messages saying words to the effect of ‘ buy some stamps so we can email each other’. Ted was the only gentleman who said, ‘ I will buy some stamps and we can chat’.
He bought the stamps. The only guy on online dating who had ever responded with ‘I will buy the stamps’ . He stood out. I was immediately keen to talk to this gentleman.
We chatted via email for a while and on the 16 th Dec we decided to meet in person. 11 years later we now own a home together and have been living together for the past 7 years. We’ve blended a family and continue to learn and grow with each other.
He’s an intelligent, driven, successful, articulate gentleman. A good guy. He’s respectful to women and has good morals, values and integrity.
So whilst I say I hated that time of my life of being proactive and doing online dating, blind dates friends set up and even speed dating, I didn’t completely give up. I always felt there were good men in the world. I still remember a profile I saw that said you have to kiss a lot of toads to find your prince. And I still had my friends who I was having plenty of fun with and support from in the meantime and my children who give me an enormous amount of love and happiness. Ted was and still is the sprinkles on the Sundae.
Love Lucy x
That was quite a journey you experienced but lovely that you found someone in the end. It was interesting reading about all the expectations both men and women have when looking for a partner. I would hope that physical things like small breasts won’t matter to the right person if the love is true because we love someone for them and not their body. Understandably, it’s what’s drilled into us though growing up that people expect certain things but anyone that takes issue with such things isn’t the right person. I suppose it’s one of the reasons we all have things about our bodies that make us feel bad.
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Thank you Merida for reading my blog and taking the time to reply. It’s always great to interact with readers about your story and see their thoughts.
It interesting how our personal insecurities can impact on how others may view us when in such a situation and what one perceives society expects. You are absolutely right that females are more than a set of breasts. And if that’s what’s important to a partner then perhaps they aren’t the right one anyway.
I once read something that said, ‘we only see our selves one dimension when we look in the mirror and not the animated us. And the complete us is what others see and are attracted to.
I’m very lucky that my life is in a much happier place now. But I can look back on those years and reflect and see life from a different perspective now.
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That’s exactly right and we all do have insecurities. I can’t personally imagine dating but then things are really challenging for me so I’d rather not. It’s a good thing I’m happy being single.
Insecurities men face are likely height, muscle bulk and things related to masculinity. I feel like men are expected to still be a certain way even though everyone is on a spectrum. Basically, men have a hard time being different and fear that women won’t be attracted to them.
That’s a good quote and certainly holds a lot of truth. I’m sure we all see things in ourselves that we don’t think the opposite sex will like when in fact the right person will like us for those things because they love us in totality. I think we can blame a lot of things we see on TV and the internet for our insecurities.
Good to hear that you feel happier in your life now. Long may it continue. 🙂