Come on, be honest, I say online dating you say, is it for me? ……. But,if there’s ever a common ground for single parents, it’s that these two are a match made in heaven. Yet since talking so openly about online dating and life as a single parent over the last couple of years, I’ve found out there’s a huge divide in how people feel about them. It’s totally a tale of two halves; There’s the ‘never done its’ who think it’s only for the desperate and lonely (usually coming from the happily coupled up who’ve never had to put themselves out there) and then on the flip side ‘it’s the only way forward & perfectly normal.’ quote – most of my single parent friends.
Married me fell into the former. I scoffed at those who used dating, shocked at my cousin’s openness at his dating antics and listened with intently at the gossipy tales about others I knew. Then, as if karma needed to teach me a lesson, things changed. I found myself single and soon that forbidden corner of the internet was a tempting apple in the garden of Eden.
Encouraged by friends, who saw online dating as the norm and spurred on by a bottle of wine & group Facebook chats, I signed up.
Then signed off.
Putting yourself out there play’ and browsing what seems like a catalogue of prospective love interests was terrifying. But it soon became apparent that things had changed immensely since my last days of being single. At 40 you’re not out in clubs and bars every weekend and you are limited to the occasional child-free time to go out on the razz with your friends. Plus, when I was out with friends, it was exactly that, I was with people who I wanted to be with. Tom Hardy could’ve walked into the room & I wouldn’t have noticed, honestly, a belly full of good food and gin was the only thing I wanted to take home.
On the odd occasions I did strike up a conversation with the opposite sex, I’d presume they were just being friendly or polite and most probably married. I’m no home wrecker and having been on the wrong side of infidelity, affairs are firmly off the cards! I soon realised that going out on the pull at 40 just my thing and that the dating pool in my village was more of a puddle.
There’s another downside to being single at 40. Most of your friends are happily coupled and once the camaraderie of let’s look after Ali & take her mind off her marriage meltdown wilts, you soon become ‘that’ single friend; eating into your friends precious family time. Their husband’s patience starts thining and girls nights out became few andd far between.
But I’m a sociable bunny, I work from home I yearned for company on the days I didn’t have my kids (and when my friends were out on dates!) I had activities I wanted to try, adventures I wanted to go on and my friends made dating sites, like Match, look so fun!
So I bit the bullet and signed back on, time to look for a playmate!
And yes there is a murky side to putting yourself out there, there are the men who presume you’re just out for kicks & go straight in with innuendos and there are the ones who get arsy because you don’t reply. (they tend to be on the free sites in my experience btw!)
But there’s also the lovely, singletons who are out there, back on the dating scene and finding that, just like myself, that whole scene has evolved.
I’m not gonna lie, my dating days were hilarious and each time I chatted to a fellow single parent, we always had stories to share, my son’s swimming teacher, the lovely lady business lady whose path I cross time and time again, even friends of my mum. All single mums, all happily dating and being a whole heap choosier this time round. We’ve had nothing but positive experiences, one lady I met even shared her experience of a full week of dates, yes that’s right, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT! ( I should add, her children were older so no childcare hurdles to cross there, but she will happily report that she has not had one bad date yet. That lady was dating the pants out of life until she found the man who filled her tick list, and why not? Why settle?
Sure, I’ve been on dates where I’ve barely recognised them from their (10-year-old) profile picture. I’ve had coffee with others who’ve barely managed to string a sentence together despite them being very articulate in messages. But I’ve also met some lovely, genuine guys. There are certain safety rules you stick to; only meet in public places, tell friends exactly where you are using the location button on What’s App and who you’re with, let your friends know when you leave and have a code word for the ‘get me out of here quick’ messages.
So single parents, believe me, if you’re back in the ring and ready to try to find Mr or Mrs Right, then a dating service site is the way forward. I’m proof in that statement, happily coupled and lived to tell the dating tale with not a horror story in sight. But looking back on it, it really would have been easier to feel as if I had someone in my corner, ready to help with childcare and to help me get back out there – which brings me to Match.
Match is offering three free baby-sitting hours to any new or existing member to try and make getting out the door and back into the world of dating just that little bit easier. When you’ve never been there yourself it can be difficult to understand just how much has to be arranged in order to ensure your date runs smoothly and I would have so loved to be able to take up this offer when I was single.
The offer is available for any Match subscribers with children via online childcare platform called Yoopies plus the usual membership fee to Yoopies will be waived. (The offer will be available throughout the whole of the summer.)
Just think, three hours of free childcare, a hot date and the possibility of true love. Sounds like a great idea, right?
Especially when you compare it to the alternative of scanning the pub for men with your beer goggles on!
For more information visit http://bit.ly/HappyDating
*Match is currently offering 3 free babysitting hours via a service called Yoopies. Any new or existing Match member will be able to get a date night free with three free hours of babysitting, plus the usual membership fee to Yoopies waived. The Yoopies premium membership is valid for 2 months after being credited on the account.*
This is a collaborative post with Match.com