Plenty more fish? 

What one Queenager learnt from swimming with sharks in the sea of midlife online dating

So there’s me: right in the middle of marvellous midlife. Mood swings, menopause and mortality – the realisation that death is something that could actually happen to me, not just to old people. Another long term relationship gone south, yet somehow still clinging to the idea that it must be possible to find a reliable, quarter-way decent man before my memory goes and I forget why I might even want one.

Everyone says that there are plenty more fish in the sea. They say online dating is the way to go. So nervously, I take the plunge. Only to encounter the plankton, invertebrates, eels and sharks lurking beneath the surface. Vague hope gives way to self doubt, incredulity and gallows humour as I realise that I must zigzag my way through fishy male profiles, photos and messages before I even find a date, never mind a partner.

The urge to share

But why do I get an overwhelming urge to over-share my experiences. Couldn’t I just save it for my therapist?

    • Top of the list: I want to give people a giggle. God knows we all need a laugh in these grim times.

    • I need to rant. Hell, I grew up with free education, free healthcare and free love and I reckon I’m still entitled to have all my needs met. So, damn it, why is this dating thing proving so difficult?

    • I’ve always been a bit of an ‘emperor’s new clothes’ person – I love to educate, tell it like it is, to expose – albeit not in a Naked Attraction way.

    • I want to share my experiences with any of you Queenager sisters who are curious to hear from one who’s gone before, to know that you’re not alone.

What I find

The Photos

I receive an email with today’s ‘feed’… but I quickly lose my appetite. Where are all the debonair older gentlemen? Why is that man wearing a bucket on his head? Seriously, Colin – you still want to show yourself in a COVID mask that covers most of your face? Ranjit – why can I just see the top of a bald head, taken in the bathroom mirror with a close-up view of a broken toilet in the background? I know our generation didn’t grow up with selfies but I thought men were supposed to be good at the technical stuff.

I will remain optimistic. I have maturity, wisdom and life experience. I’m looking for a soulmate, not a quick hook-up. OK, so none of them is drop-dead gorgeous. (To be honest some of the men look like they are just about to drop dead.) A few just might, with the right lighting, enough alcohol and a fair wind, pass for good-looking. But why do so many of them look so disengaged and sleazy?

The profiles

I think back nostalgically to the Lonely Hearts ads of yester-year: “Do you like Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain?”. I will take a non-judgmental look at the profiles. Maybe the words will set my heart racing as the website promises?

The subtle

Darren, a truck driver from Maidenhead: “I’m always telling dirty jokes and I’m very good with my hands”

Jimmythehorse55: “I’m very tactile. I love kissing, hugging, stroking. If you’re the same send me a message saying, I’m very tactile also”

Stefan, works in the City: “I treasure authenticity, loyalty and a sincere personality. And I have very very healthy libido”

And the….not so subtle “Looking for an exciting part-time relationship to alleviate the boredom of my full time relationship.”

GetLucky69 London, 34: “Fit, attractive male with six-pack looking for friendship and fun with mature ladies”. Get lucky obviously got lucky at least once. If you look closely at his cropped photo you can see the edges of a wedding veil standing next to him

The “inappropriate”

Dylan, recently moved from Betws-y-Coed to London to meet more interesting people: “My new girlfriend should like fashion especially black, seamed stockings with a lovely shine and red stiletto shoes”

Paul_49851287 has decided to answer today’s profile question which is: if you had one wish, what would it be? His wish: “Foursome”

Kev in Borehamwood: “I’m an incurable romantic looking for a nymphomaniac who supports Watford FC and owns a pub. I’m joking, or am I hahaha”

It would be much easier if the profiles just cut to the chase. Why not say – I’m handsy; I’m a sexual predator; I want sex but I’m too mean to pay for it; it’s been a while. Then we’d all know where we stand.

The friendly

Finally I find one that seems more genuine. Kelvin in London messages me: “I’m not a player – I’d rather take my time to get to know you, starting as friends”. Ater a couple of online messages he asks for my mobile number and tells me he hopes we can meet up soon. I ask him what part of London he lives in. He replies: “Are you asking for my actual postcode?!?”. I get a bit nervous and decide to check out Kelvin on the website again. ‘Our moderator has removed this profile as it violates our terms of use’. A scammer! This does set my heart racing but probably not in the way the website suggested it would

My hard learned survival tips

Do nice guys actually exist amongst the clownfish, catfish and goblin sharks? Well, yes… And we probably all know people who have stumbled on hidden treasure on the sea bed. But forewarned is forearmed and my experience says you’ll need:

resilience – think wet suit and goggles rather than glamorous swim suit
humour – strange men thrive in cyber space. If you meet one, laugh and move on

self-belief – know that it’s definitely not you, it’s them

Finally, maintain hope. Remember, for every pot there’s a lid. Even if the lid doesn’t quite fit and the handle has come loose.

By The Secret Online Dater


6 responses to “Plenty more fish? ”

  1. deb says:

    Brill assessment of a tricky landscape. Cheers and do keep us posted:)

  2. Paul Hulatt says:

    Online dating is a minefield, where wierd species abound. That said it is a numbers game which requires due diligence.

    We all deserve happiness and most of us are conditioned to work better in a relationship. Just be open to the fact that there are mines under the surface just waiting for you to bump into them and blow you out of the water. The sharks and other creatures can be managed but the mines …..

  3. Great piece. Men on dating websites can be a bit hopeless but this is written with empathy and humour.

  4. Hermit crab says:

    Brave woman – diving in the deep end. Just keep swimming (and posting)

  5. MO says:

    What a great opening article…..we need to hear more from the Queenager

  6. Emma says:

    Brilliant piece: clear-eyed yet hopeful, and refreshingly funny. I’d love to hear more from The Secret Online Dater.

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