As often happens, sleeping on an intriguing idea brings you down to earth next day. I've cooled off about the entire notion of putting myself out there and setting up dates.
I said in yesterday's post that I'd get onto all this after my caravan holiday, but actually I couldn't resist making a start straight away, with a little research into dating websites, and putting together a short description of myself to go with a photo when registering. This was the first draft of that personal description:
I am a mature woman looking for a person - it could be male or female, actually - to share a social life with. I am divorced. I have a grown-up married step-daughter, but no children of my own, no pets, and no special commitments. I retired very early, and enjoy a life of leisure. My personal history and circumstances have made me a very self-sufficient person, and I value my present independence.
My enduring interests are travel and photography, good food and interesting company. I also appreciate art, history, and cultural pursuits generally. I hate to conform, but I'm not a political animal. Most people find me pleasant and amiable and even funny, although I make absolutely no special claims where my sense of humour is concerned! Note however that I consider that platforms like Facebook encourage indiscreet and damaging communication, and if you're a huge fan of this kind of social networking then we probably won't get on.
I strongly recommend that you dip into my blog. It's called 'Lucy Melford'. A Google search using that name will instantly find it. It will also find my Flickr site, and that will show you where I've been, what catches my eye, and what I get up to. The Flickr site also contains many, many photos of me, if you want to 'examine the goods'.
The blog, too, is well-populated with photos of myself and aspects of my life. At the top right of the home page is a search box, and if you pop in a key word such as 'love' or 'food' or 'sex' you will produce a list of posts to read that feature that subject, which will tell you much about me. In fact, if you fail to consult the blog I will not only be unimpressed, but you won't inform yourself of all sorts of background facts that I'd really like you to be aware of!
Yes, yes, I do agree that it's a screed fit to put off most human beings, let alone the average tasty geezer or tender lesbian lady! It needs heavy pruning. The first few sentences would be more than enough. In fact I'm sure I'd be forced to clip it, as the ordinary dating website must limit you to 100 words or so.
But you can see that I've cleverly avoided mentioning the killer words 'trans' and 'nearly sixty'. I'm not dishonest, though, because pointing the reader towards my blog will instantly confront them with the stark reality that I'm not a natal woman, and that I'm not young either. Even so, as a description intended to provoke a Fatal Attraction, it's a colossal failure. Only a die-hard challenge-taker would give me a go.
And do you know, I'm sure that - subconsciously - that's how I want it to be. My instinct is to be offputting, to make it hard to fancy me, to keep most people at arm's length. That talk, for instance, of liking art and cultural pursuits, is blatantly elitist and highbrow, and will put off most guys. But I'd still like to leave it in.
The truth is, I've been responding to natural social pressures. There's nothing wrong with my hair stylist (or anyone else) being interested in my lovelife, or my attempts to set up one, but actually I don't have to do anything at all about it, and certainly not create situations simply for ongoing discussion. The problem for me is to resist falling into line, to resist exhortations to 'find true love and companionship'. There is extraordinary pressure to be one half of a loving couple. It's a fundamental aspiration promoted by society, and most things are geared to it. And it suits an awful lot of people. But not me. I need to fend it off, fight against it, or, if I can't entirely opt out, carefully control how it affects my life.
So although that first draft for a dating website simply won't do, it does faithfully reflect my attitude in this area. And though I'll find time while on holiday to slim it down, and make it a little more alluring, it's still going to have an edge and discourage the crass and inarticulate. No riff raff, thank you!
But then there's another thing entirely. The websites themselves. I had a fair idea to how find them - it's easy-peasy - and I did the obvious thing, searching for 'Sussex dating'. That threw up a long list of sites to try. Some I'd heard of already, such as Match.com, apparently respectable but a bit all-embracing and impersonal, rather like going onto eBay to bid for love.
Then there were sites aimed specifically at the over-forties, such as:
Hmmm. Those sounded a bit predatory.
There were plenty of sites that seemed intended for the average passion seeker:
And there were sites whose names suggested that they were simply partnering mechanisms for people wanting as much sex as possible, with as many people as possible. Score till you're sore, in fact:
I clicked on one or two before feeling that this was all much too tacky and cattlemarket for my liking. But I persevered, and tried to set myself up on a couple of the sites that seemed less preoccupied with generating wet knickers. And immediately came up against a basic technical problem. You had to say what kind of person you were, and who you were looking for. But the choices offered could only be 'woman looking for a man' or 'man looking for a woman', when I really wanted to say 'woman looking for both'. Match.com did offer a further choice, 'woman looking for a woman', which was commendable, but still not quite what I wanted.
Then there were the costs. Once site quoted 'Only £6 a week' to register. What? Far too much! But I suspected that one way or another all these sites would milk you of a fair amount of cash, even if registering with them were 'free'. You'd have to pay to set up a chatting facility and to negotiate an actual date. And I was luke-warm about doing this anyway. I'd rather use the money on diesel for Fiona, and have an exciting 95mph blast up the M23.
So there the matter presently rests. At first blush the online dating process feels contrived and lacking in magic - quite apart from the risk of meeting some slimeball who has cynically faked a photo and a false description of themselves. I may come to feel differently on more mature reflection, but for now I think I'll leave it all to blind chance. That probably means getting chatted up by yet another old codger at a bar, and not a thirty-something hunk, but hey ho.