Let's face it, nobody wants to find themselves single at nearly 40. Nobody. But sometimes life doesn't turn out the way you thought it would and, after literally decades of being either married or in long term relationships, I find myself on my own. Well, apart from 2 kids, 5 cats and 2 guinea pigs, but you know what I mean.
After a period of sadness for what had gone, followed by 'Shit. What now?', and then acceptance that - hell, I'm not a bad old stick ready for the scrapheap just yet, I've decided that sitting around waiting for life to just happen around me really isn't the way to go. And so the time has come to write a new chapter. A new chapter in the form of a dating website. Now, I know what you're thinking because I admit I thought the same once upon a time. But the truth is, I'm a single working mum; my days of being able to drop everything and go out on the manhunt are far behind me. They say dating is difficult enough in your 20's, but when you're near the end of your 30's it seems about a daunting prospect as throwing yourself from the nearest cliff. Add to the mix a significant amount of baggage and, well - you get it. Having tried Plenty Of Fish and quickly realising it was a breeding ground for sleazebags, liars and dickheads, I thought I'd sign up for one that you have to subscribe to. For a better class of sleazebag. Dickheads with money, if you will.
The first challenge came with writing my profile. You literally have to sell yourself. Which means no listing your hobbies as 'cleaning the cat trays, standing on Lego and shouting "Teeth! Shoes! Teeth! Lunchbag! Shoes!" like a demented fishwife for an hour in the mornings'. Then came finding the right profile pictures, or - more specifically - finding ones that didn't make me look like I felt (of pensionable age and knackered). So I did my roots, dug deep into the Facebook archives and got snap happy. Writing my 'About me' bit was easy if I'm honest. I haven't got to this age without learning a few lessons about what I DON'T want from a relationship. I was very honest. I didn't want to be messed about, lied to or to waste my time with someone who's got one foot in the relationship and the other halfway down the road. I made it clear I wasn't interested in hook-ups, hoping to whittle out some of the sleazier creatures out there. More on that later.
And so my profile went live, with a mixture of excitement and papping myself at what I was letting myself in for. But I have to admit, it's been a hell of a lot of fun! So far I've had an offer of a holiday to Barbados, a shopping trip to New York (obviously I politely declined, not least because he was 4ft 3" and looked like Roland Rat) and an invitation to be someone's wrestling partner. Seriously. Yes, there are have been chancers who are just looking for a quick bunk up, but they've been relegated to the 'Blocked' bin. As have those who've just sent "Your stunning". But not before I've quickly fired a message back saying "*You're". Well, if I didn't pull them up on their grammatical errors it would keep me awake at night and I can't have that.
Who knows where this chapter will go? If all I find is a few mates to chat to, great. If I find true love and a future with someone perfect for me, even better. I've chatted to several really decent blokes with offers of dates in the pipeline which, again is both exciting and terrifying. But I won't know unless I try. And it's given me a much needed boost to my fragile self-confidence, reminding me that I do still have a lot to offer the right man. #loveyourimperfections.
So while I never knew the troubles of dating in my 20's (does he like me? will he call? does he fancy me?), I think I can sum up dating at 39 as 'So are we doing this or not? Cos I've got shit to do'.