Dating diary 21. Can this new relationship be love? Second time around, can I trust my feelings?

So, having recovered from Delightful Dick’s family wedding, I am invited to spend Christmas at his house with his children. It is his turn to have them, and I would not have been at all surprised if he had wanted them to himself. I seem to be part of the family now, which is wonderful.

From the beginning of our relationship, I felt something for him. It wasn’t my intention to find love when I went online – it was just to be happy, have sex and a nice time.

But this relationship is more to me than a nice time with a nice man. It’s not the same as the first time I fell in love. Is it the real thing? Can I trust it?

I talk to a pal about love the second time around. She has been married and divorced and now lives with her partner, whom she met in her late forties. She says relationships are more calculating when you get older. I don’t like that word, but I do accept that love might just be more measured.

My new man ticks all the boxes

So how does DD measure up? He is kind, thoughtful, has high morals and a sense of humour. He is rational, with a good business brain and capable from a practical point of view.

He likes culture, the theatre, art and has great taste in contemporary music. He loves a country walk and a great pub.

He is in good shape, a stylish dresser, good-looking and great in bed. To be honest, I am bloody lucky.

But then, you could argue, so is he. He is getting a tall, fashionable, sexy lady, who many describe as beautiful and wickedly funny. And I have a generous, compassionate nature. Plus, I am independent financially. What’s not to like? Both lucky, I’d say.

We’re from different worlds

We are, however, from different tribes. Mine is youthful, big city, big business, media and the arts. I have a wider social circle, and, if I am honest, probably only a few deep relationships.

His friendships are fewer, but deeper and more intimate. His circle is local business, successful, well-heeled, family-oriented and more conservative. But he is at the edge of his tribe and there is a lot of common ground between his and mine. I genuinely like some of his friends.

Second-time-around dating: are you damaged goods in your 50s?

There is a gap but it is bridgeable, although I know I’ll never be a fully paid-up member of the Weston-super-Mare Tribe, who alarmed me when I saw them in full flow at the wedding. Even though that is where I come from, I left 40 years ago. Maybe that’s why I feel the fear of regressing there.

Our sex life is getting better and better

All things considered, the relationship balance sheet is healthy. And he makes me very happy. My heart sings when I see him. I am always sad rather than relieved when we part. And our sex life is getting better and better, so that also gives me a good feeling.

I don’t have that wild, mad feeling, that extravagant rush that I felt for my husband nearly 30 years ago when we met. I think I am falling in love, even though it feels steady.

I am also scared that two years out of a 28-year marriage might be a bit soon for anything serious. The last thing I want to do is to rush to a declaration, only to find that my feelings are not stable, resulting in a lot of pain inflicted on someone who has had more than his fair share.

We haven’t said I love you

So that’s all about me… but what is DD feeling? He hasn’t dropped the L-bomb yet… and I do think the man should go first on that one. Ridiculously old-fashioned, I know.

His actions are loving, but he never says anything on the matter. Do actions speak lounder than words? Who the hell knows.

How to spot the liars on online dating profiles

My brain is bleeding with all this weighing and balancing. So I decide that the best therapy is going to be retail. I put a lot of love and joy into shopping for the most delectable and thoughtful Christmas gifts. Christmas stockings for his children; lots of fabulous treats without the pressure of the single gift.

And for him, a trip to see Hozier in concert in Amsterdam in January, with travel and hotel included; a funky shirt, some books and an equally delicious stocking.

I am wrapped up in the pleasure I get from being generous and feeling full of seasonal goodwill for my new love. And so I head west for a country-barn Christmas.

Next: how will Louisa’s presents be received? The final instalment