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Tales from the dating trenches: Dating in my late 40s

Soliloquy from a single lady

Nancy de Plume reports from the dating trenches (and yes, it’s an alias).

Following a series of dud dalliances in my 30s and 40s, and finding myself closer to 50 and single, it recently dawned on me that to meet someone, I’d need to be more proactive. Because I’d be delighted to meet a nice fella, someone to go on adventures with, to cook dinner with, someone whose day’s details I’d want to hear about, just as they’d be keen to know about my triumphs and disappointments.

But meeting this mythical man, who can fix a bike puncture and prune a fruit tree, who wants to kayak around New Zealand and keep chickens, who prefers good books over All Blacks – I just don’t know where to find him.

I’ve never felt comfortable with the prospect of Tinder; for some reason it doesn’t light my fire, and the chaps on Findsomeone haven’t kindled much of anything, either. I suspect I’m too shy to seriously advertise myself on the internet. Or perhaps I was put off by a friend’s Tinder tale.

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Logging on in deepest Southland, my chum was matched with a man in Invercargill who was very keen for my friend to come to his house – an internet dating no-no. So my friend asked for the initial meeting to take place somewhere public, whereupon it transpired Tinder-man was on home detention and couldn’t go any further than his front door.

To assist my romantic endeavours, a few friends have tried to help. An editor I write for suggested a man in her marketing team might tickle my fancy. Moderately well-oiled following a Christmas party, she went home and emailed us both, no frills. The message said: “Mark meet Nancy, Nancy meet Mark” (not our real names), and that was all.

He emailed. I replied. His messages were initially a trifle effusive, nervous perhaps. I let it slide. We migrated to text messages, he started writing novellas. I barely had time to read them, let alone reply. I was already finding it all a bit heavy-handed when his idea of a first intersection was taking one of his four (FOUR!) children on a three-hour (THREE!) drive to deliver one of his brood to his sister’s for the holidays, then return to Auckland sans child.

Clearly the man was out of his mind. Even someone as inexperienced at dating as me knows the first face-to-face is held somewhere casual and close to home where both parties have a clear exit. This fellow also made it clear he’d had a good Google of me, which is kind of creepy. Even if that is what people do these days, shouldn’t he have kept that to himself? Needless to say, I never found time for coffee. Or a six-hour road trip.

Read more: Norm de Plume: The pitfalls and occasional pleasures of the online dating scene

Another man was almost my kind of guy, aside from having lopped the better part of a decade off his age. Slowly, over a number of weeks, his age crept up to the point where he was eligible for superannuation. Plus he would share every single detail of his day with me – it’s true, I do ask lots of questions – but when it came time for reciprocation, when any normal person would say, “And you?”, he’d yawn and say, “Oh, but I’m so tired.” Presumably tuckered out from talking about himself. He’d then tell me it was time for him to hit the hay, for he had another big, important day ahead – in case I missed how terribly big and important he was.

And my day – even if I’d found a cure for cancer and been to the moon – none of that would warrant a footnote.

Clearly it was time to take the bull by the horns, metaphorically speaking, at least. I’d just turned 47, spring had sprung, albeit rather wetly, and I decided to Google introduction agencies in my neck of the woods. An appointment was made with the matchmaker’s assistant.

At our meeting in a cafe, the young woman inquired about my height, date of birth, religion, hobbies. She also asked where I’d travelled. When I told her I’d lived in New York, London and Turkey, she asked, had I ever been to Straya? I think she meant Australia. Why yes, I have, I replied. Next, she asked about “specific violence” – which I quickly realised was Pacific Islands. Yes, indeed, those too.

Yet there were no questions that could possibly have any bearing on nuance, none that might uncover a person’s life philosophies or social politics. How about asking what radio stations a person listens to? Or say, “Global warming: true or false?”

Instead, she asked, “What would you like in a man?” Goodness, but there’s a question. How specific should I get, I wondered. For some reason, I started by saying I’d like a fellow who didn’t follow sport too closely. I’m all for playing sport, but sitting around watching it, screaming at the TV, that’s just not my cup of tea.

Aside perhaps from tennis and bits of the Olympics, wouldn’t people rather be doing something? And if the outcome of a rugby game deeply affected his mood, he definitely wasn’t for me. She laughed nervously and said she’d never heard that before. Then she told a story about being at a wedding in America where the DJ had never heard of the All Blacks. Or the haka. She clearly hadn’t understood the point I was making. And the more we slid lightly over my life, the more I realised she couldn’t possibly know me. The chances of her having got the measure of a man with the same limited set of banal questions seemed highly unlikely, too. 

But I still hoped to meet someone special, someone I’d never cross paths with under my own steam, so we went through the paperwork. It would cost $550 for the first three introductions, after which time I could sign up for more if those first three hadn’t met with success.

I also learnt a fair bit about the matchmaker’s assistant. It’s true, I’m quite nosy, probably because people are interesting. In the course of our exchange, she told me she did reiki, which is a form of healing I consider nonsense, on a par with homeopathy. She also said she was happily settled with a new chap, whom she’d met the old-fashioned way, and what’s more, she could feel her as-yet unconceived daughter around her.

Clearly we were from different tribes, but I still thought it was worth following through – after all, nothing ventured, nothing gained. As we prepared to leave, she said she’d never met a person like me before. Her own words. I didn’t know whether to be flattered or concerned.

Driving home, I began to feel less confident about the matchmaking endeavour. What’s more, the woman who does the matching isn’t even the woman I met with – so based on the bare bones of my answers to those superficial questions, someone else was going to do the pairing up.

Really, all it boiled down to was a game of romance roulette. So, back at my desk, I emailed the owner of the company to say I wouldn’t be taking things further.

Happily, I’m fine on my own, and as much as I think it’d be fun to fall in love, I don’t pine for romance. I have good friends, a reasonable social life and a library card, so at least I can read about love.

In the meantime, it’s back to the drawing board – who knows, perhaps I’ll meet someone there. 

This was published in the May 2018 issue of North & South.