Dairy of a midlife dater
Divorced after 26 years of marriage, Daisy Mae, 55, tells what happened when she bravely launched herself into the world of internet dating.
Daisy has written a book, Dating Daisy, based on her adventures, but chose to conceal her real name to keep her professional career as an NHS doctor separate. She has three adult children and lives in the south of England.
Why I’m doing it
One person told me I must be “desperate” to try online dating. I find that offensive! We’ve all got a life to live and in my job, in a sexual health clinic, I don’t see many prospects of meeting eligible men! Of course, I’d rather not go online. It’s embarrassing to think the world can log on and see me, and humiliating to imagine what my married friends must think. But I’m alone, I’m recognizing my biological need for a partner and doing something about it.
I avoided apps like Tinder, which, I imagine, is for younger people, and start with the Daily Telegraph’s dating site – because I want someone who’s reasonably intellectual with good communication skills and interested in current affairs. Soon, I add match.com, eharmony, and Zoosk.
Creating my profile
When people make an effort with their profile, it shows – so I want mine to be exemplary. I chose four qualities I want to embody – “dazzling, beautiful, smart, alluring”. Everything I write has to reflect them. I mention things I love, from reading and walking to ballroom dancing and recent holidays jet skiing and flotilla sailing. I’m passionate about my job and clearly state that I’m looking for a soulmate. I don’t lie: the photo is a selfie I took on the day I went online. Yes, I washed my hair and put make-up on but it’s how I look now – not 20 years ago!
Once I’m through, I see pages of prospective male partners and my heart sinks. I’m sure there’s someone out there for everyone, but I’m disappointed by how little effort these men are making to look attractive. Naked torsos. Holding pints of beer. Lots don’t even bother to wear a nice shirt and the photos are taken at bad angles with terrible lighting! One man even has a young Thai bride on his arm. So is he looking for a threesome?
My first internet date
Once I’ve narrowed my search to men aged 50 to 60 within 20 miles – and are taller than my 5ft 9in – there aren’t many options. One looks reasonable – there are pictures of him reading a book, riding a horse and drinking a pint in a kilt (so maybe he likes reading, the outdoors and being sociable). It says he’s 54, 6ft and, like me, a doctor!
I message to say I like his profile – and next morning, her messages back asking if we can speak on the phone. My heart is hammering – but our first call isn’t what I expect. Straightaway, he breaks into a long, involved story about how things have gone wrong for him. His wife had an affair, he was accused of medical malpractice, found guilty and then struck off. My heart sinks. I know people on the internet have baggage – I included – but I doubt this man can be the one for me. I manage to end the conversation but he keeps messaging, and I wonder if I’m being unkind. We’ve all had “work issues”. Perhaps this could be something he could put behind him. Maybe it’s worth a coffee? We agree to meet in the reception at a hospital where I’m working. I wear a smart dress, my hair is up and I’m looking for a guy who’s 6ft tall with lots of hair. I feel a poke in the ribs and look down to see a guy of about 5ft 2in with a crew cut and an old anorak. He looks nothing like his photo. I know in one second there’s absolutely no hope of a relationship but, of course, we have the coffee and the conversation revolves around his work issues. After half an hour, he tells me he has a new job as an embalmer for a funeral home. I tell him I must dash.
Patrick’s profile stands out and grabs me in the solar plexus. He’s 59, 6ft 1in, a divorced solicitor from Cornwall. His picture shows a distinguished face, receding hairline, and a charming grin. He describes himself as outgoing and happy and loves cricket and horse racing. As I hover on his profile, a square flashes on my screen to show that he is hovering on mine too. Minutes later, her messages, “Hello Miss Perfect!”
For the next few weeks, we’re emailing back and forth about absolutely everything – marriages, children, work, “20 questions” – and there are lots of laughs. He’s such a nice guy – but more than 200 miles away. It isn’t practical! We decide to meet halfway for dinner in a pub restaurant. I’m nervous and excited and try on countless outfits before choosing white jeans and a floaty blouse (though I wear something else to drive in and change in a layby so they’re not too creased)
When I finally arrive and walk towards the front door, I realize I’m being attacked. Someone springs on top of me, embracing me with gangly arms and wearing a purple floral shirt. Gasping for breath, I free myself to see a thin, bald man grinning back – and he’s shorter than me. Patrick had been waiting in the porch so I didn’t have to walk into the pub alone – then jumped me. If anyone had seen, they’d have called the police!
He’s a very nice chap but, try as I might, I can’t find him attractive. By the end of the evening, Patrick produces a bunch of flowers from his car then lunges at me for a kiss on the lips. I feel a bit ungrateful but I can’t ignore it. The attraction isn’t there.
Jack is local – and locally is important. His profile is sparse – he has a young son, likes walking, cycling and “cozy nights by the fire”. He looks nice – whitish blonde hair and large, dark eyes. I message him and he asks for my number as he “isn’t into long emails”. We talk for a while – he’s the director of a property company, mid-divorce, currently staying in a hotel.
We meet for dinner – I’m in a little black dress, he’s in a crisp suit – and for once, he looks like his photo. I’m impressed. We get on well and afterward, text constantly. (“I can’t stop thinking about you”, he says!) On the third date, he comes back to the house. He kisses me, I put on some soft music and lead him to the bedroom. I’m not promiscuous – I’ve had two partners in 28 years, but what’s wrong with being grown-up and enjoying the moment? Next morning, we kiss goodbye on the doorstep… and I just about never hear from him again. I’m not the first woman in the world to have a one-night stand, but how stupid am I? It is what it is. Nothing to do, but move on.
When someone lists “sport” as a hobby or a photo shows a man in lycra, I delete them. I don’t imagine we’ll have much in common. Today, an agency sends me a picture of a middle-aged man in his bicycle helmet and I do a double take. Suddenly, I see not a sportsman but someone trying to get fit. He looks nice.
We email constantly for ten days. Edward, 57, is an accountant, divorced, living 30 miles away. He’s been internet dating for three months, hates it and was about to give up. We talk about everything and nothing – I send him kissing tips, we make each other laugh. When we finally meet for dinner, he says he’ll be the “tall bloke in the blue Mercedes”. He looks just like his photo. We walk towards each another (he later tells me he fell in love with me there and then). There are pheromones everywhere!
We have a great dinner – Edward’s sweet, lovely, chivalrous – and when I get home, he has sent a long email thanking me for a fabulous evening. A week later, he cooks me a meal at his house – and though I don’t stay over, a few nights later, I’m back and I do.
What happened next…
That was three-and-a-half years ago, I’ve moved into his beautiful house with a hot tub, where we drink Champagne and look at the stars. We both know life is no dress rehearsal so we’re putting experiences first – we’ve waltzed in Vienna, stayed in the ice hotel and saw the Northern Lights, and sailed to distant islands. We agree he and I are never internet dating again!