Back on the singles scene again after a lovely relationship ended because we wanted different things, I’m reminded how vulnerable I can feel in the daunting world of Internet dating.
As if it wasn’t bad enough to have strangers scrutinise your face and judge your words, I’m also keenly aware that some men out there will dismiss me because of my age.
I’m 42 and still thinking I’d like to try and have children (with the right guy – not on my own, at least at this point). And I know, from interviewing men for my book, that many would-be fathers are always going to prefer someone who’s got more time on their hands when it comes to prospective fertility.
Of course, I can’t blame them. In their position, I imagine I’d do the same. But that doesn’t make it any easier on us.
But, this time around, I’ve decided to approach Internet dating from a place of confidence and healthy self-esteem, even if I don’t always feel that way.
I’m not going to assume that, “he’s too good to be true”, or “he’d never look at me – I’m too old,” or “he’s good-looking enough to attract one of those young, pretty, blonde women.”
And I’m not going to shy away from contacting men because I think they’re “out of my league”.
Instead, I’m going to turn those internal messages on their head and jump back into the dating pool expecting the best.
I’m going to try and think, “I’m too good to be true,” or “his loss” – we say it but do we really mean it? – or “I would be a wonderful partner to this young, attractive guy.”
Because deep down, buried beneath my self-consciousness and insecurities about my age and looks, I know I have a lot to offer.
I know I’m attractive, fun, adventurous and capable of emotional intimacy. I’m aware I have my faults – don’t we all? – and I’m working on them, but I’m sure there’s a man out there who isn’t going to believe his luck when he finds me.
Ok, so I confess those words were hard to write. My stomach lurched and I cringed a bit. Who am I to speak so highly of myself?
But the truth is we deserve to be our top cheerleaders, to love and cherish every aspect of ourselves while, at the same time, gently changing those parts of ourselves we know get in the way of our peace and happiness.
So when the guy doesn’t message back, when he looks at my profile but doesn’t get in touch, or when he calls to chat but fails to fix a date to meet, I’m not going to spiral into negative thinking or pore over my picture in search of wrinkles.
I’m going to smile, say “his loss” – and really mean it – and look forward to the moment when I do meet my match.
And on that note, I’m off to rewrite my Internet dating profile and send some festive smiles, from a place of confidence and healthy self-esteem.