Happy Valentine’s Day. May it be a day filled with joy in whatever form that takes. Hot Stuff and I don’t do all that lovey dovey stuff. I mentioned the other day that I’d tell the tale of how we met. Well, today is probably the perfect day to do it even though I’ve somehow ended up with the least romantic man in the world. He’s one that thinks a secondhand PortaPotti and a gas valve are suitable Christmas gifts for their girlfriend. I was delighted with these by the way.
Life was being good to me as a singleton before we met. I had a bevy of truly wonderful friends, a good relationship with my teenager and plenty of interesting activities to keep me occupied. I was healthy, happy and pretty darned contented. Then one day I was having a beer with ‘my boys’ , two same sex male couples. ‘We’ve got just the man for you.’ said one of the lads. They went on to describe an ageing lonely neighbour who seemed more in need of a live in carer than a girlfriend. When I remonstrated the supposed winning card was revealed. ‘But darling, he has a sea view!’
‘I can do better than that!’ I thought to myself. The challenge was on. And so it was back to the dating sites. I’m sure that there may be other readers of who may have given these a go. They will most likely know that they are fraught with obstacles. Seemingly respectable, normal people of any old sex don’t behave themselves when using them. I’d fallen foul before and had periods of nursing a hurt heart and burnt fingers. For anyone who is currently undergoing a similar process let me give some advice. ‘If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t’ and ‘If good friends smell a rat listen to them!’ To protect myself this time around I came up with a strategy and set some firm boundaries.
First of all I wrote a list of what I was looking for. This was to give me a strong reminder about keeping on track. I then prepared my profile setting out what I was after. I put it on a paid subscription service rather than using a free site. This was in the belief that that this might sift out some of the blokes that weren’t looking for a serious relationship. And then I waited.
Each day I might have a few people that contacted me and I responded if I wanted to. I also developed a system to override the mechanism for ‘favouriting’ people. It involved old fashioned pen and paper. Every day I was presented with 100 new matches. If I liked the look of them I didn’t swipe left or right to add them automatically to my favourites as recommended. Instead I made a note of their nickname. and whittled the list down to profiles that I’d search for and look at later. I must be a fussy bugger or there might be problems with dating site algorithms. On a good day I was left with a maximum of five matches. Most days it was a manageable one or two that seemed to merit a further look.
Within the first couple of weeks of joining I had a lovely date with a friendly interesting guy. In spite of telling me that I looked hotter than most women in their fifties there was absolutely no spark. ‘You’d make a great friend.’ he’d said after an enjoyable night. I gave him a stern look and wished him well. ‘That’s not the purpose of this exercise. I already have enough mates’. Then I flew off to the US to stay with my friend , the Second Martha Stewart What a highly successful strategy for meeting men in the flesh! However each morning on waking I’d do the swiping and writing thing. Somehow I’d also got into a bit of a routine of writing ‘essays’ for a pleasant guy who had an interest in all things spiritual. I was persevering but frankly I was getting a bit bored.
Hot Stuff popped up in among my hopefuls. His pictures were as obscure as they come: a distant view of a bloke in a surf kayak, the shot of a back of someone falling off a mountain bike and the obligatory ten years younger blurry photo. ‘I’ll go and have a look at him. He seems outdoorsy’. I needed my cuppa first though. A woman has to prioritise her needs. On my return from the kitchen Hot Stuff had viewed my details and given me a cheesy wink. There was no way he’d have known that I was going to contact him because I hadn’t opened his profile. ‘It’s a sign.’ I thought because I truly believe in that hippie shit.
So over the next week we sent funny messages to and fro across the pond. I politely ditched the serious spiritual guy. It didn’t feel honest talking to two people at once and frankly I didn’t have time. When I returned home Hot Stuff and I had a couple of long phone calls before we arranged a date and agreed to meet on Exeter Quay. I still didn’t have a clue about what he looked like. ‘You are bloody joking!’ I told my Higher Self when the bloke with glasses and less hair than he had sported a decade before approached me. Shit! I’d forgotten to add ‘Must look like Idris Elba’ to my list of attributes ‘Go with it.’ was the reply. Three and a half years later he’s still around even though my wish of tidiness was not granted!