Last week in my online dating escapades I made an assessment of which women over 50 get dates with men, and discovered that it’s the ones who look most feminine in their photos. So, riled as I was, I changed my profile pic.
It’s getting better results. Nevertheless, to up my odds, I decide to message anyone who has favourited me back, and anyone who I really like the look of even if they haven’t.
The best-looking farmer over 50 replies. So does a handsome widower. Both have pictures of themselves in their swimsuits so I know they’re fit. (Well, they can at least swim, I suppose.)
After a little messaging they both suggest a phone call. A fairly standard first step when moving from the virtual to real world, I later discover.
Phone call with a real live potential date
Muddy Farmer sounds nice. Yorkshire accent, deep voice. Good sense of humour. A free-flowing effortless 40-minute chat bodes well. He lives in the Midlands so near enough and far enough. I don’t want a lovesick nutter on my country cottage doorstep.
He says he has spent the day de-bollocking bullocks and rehearsing for a forthcoming role as a fairy in his local panto. Yes. I have hooked myself a six-foot-five castrator fairy. Do I really want a date with a cross-dressing farmer? Yes, actually, I do.
Islington Widower has a fruity, plummy voice. Sexy. Wife died six years prior and he is auditioning for a replacement. He is in the same field of business as I am and we know a lot of the same people.
When you meet most people in real life, you know something about them. You get a perspective from people who may have introduced you (“The thing about Peter is, his wife was a selfish cow,” that sort of thing). On the internet, people have no context but the one they create. They can be anything that they want to be.
So despite the appeal of getting a third-party review on Islington Widower, his closeness to my business network fills me with dread. I don’t want a professional gossip. So although we have a lovely chat, and he invites me out for a glass of wine when I’m next in town, I decide not to call him.
Walking the dogs for our first date
The Muddy Farmer it is, then. He proposes we walk our dogs together at Stowe, a beautiful National Trust property halfway between us. Classy then, I think, for a farmer.
I go into complete flap at the prospect and tell him how anxious I feel about a first date with someone. He is lovely, steady and calm. The worst thing that can happen, he says, is that the dogs will have had a good walk. I really like the idea of a very low-key first date.
The day of the date comes. It is a difficult wardrobe call: can’t really do sexy on a dog walk. I go for tightest jeans, big baggy sweater, Dubarry boots and a Barbour. And as much make-up as I would ever wear on an evening out. I am trembling as I drive towards Stowe.
The reality of a man in his fifties
The mind’s eye is a strange thing. We somehow imagine dating as it was when we last did it, when we were 20 or 30, and our sense of how a date will look and feel is shaped by that.
So I look round the car park for a tall, slim, handsome guy. Nothing. But there is an oldish chap with a terrier in the distance… Oh my god, that is him. He’s old! He comes over and we introduce ourselves and shake hands.
He’s 55 years old. Younger than me, actually. Tall, slim. A bit weather-beaten. But inside I am screaming, “Oh my god, I’m on a date with my dad.”
Realistic about how I look?
Is he thinking the same? Am I kidding myself about how young I look? Does my mind’s eye trick my self-image too? I just don’t want to rip his clothes off… and I do really want to feel that kick in the loins again.
He looks at me and smiles and I notice he has the most amazing, twinkly, bright bright bright cornflower-blue eyes….
Dating 50-year-olds. Most of them aren’t really that hot. It’s a monumental adjustment. And you don’t get that rush you get when you date in your youth. It feels so very different.
But make the date low key and lower your expectations. It’s not a bad idea to do something you’ll enjoy even if the date doesn’t work out. The worst that can happen is that you will still have had a nice time.