Time to take a big breath and get back to online dating…
Tom’s profile really stood out from the others. From what he wrote, he seemed bold, original, confident but not cocky (the right amount of self-deprecation), intelligent, creative, handsome, manly and witty. A few years younger than me (nice one!) and widowed. Pretty damn perfect, except that he lived 80 miles away. Oh, and carrying ‘a few extra pounds’. Mmmm, my suspicious mind wondered, is it really a few pounds? (Now that I’m a more experienced dater, I know better: turns out it’s always more like a few stones, but who’s going to write that?).
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Cut to another man I saw for a while last year – also carrying ‘a few extra pounds’. Despite being a GP, he was obese. And it wasn’t just his overhanging tum – the backside was extensive too. And his arms, legs and neck. At first sight, I thought, ‘No way’, but very soon his charm, humour, intelligence and generosity outweighed his avoirdupois. I’ll tell you more about him in the coming months.
Back to Tom: I got in touch with him, saying I really liked his profile and invited him to look at mine. Within minutes he replied in such a cleverly crafted, amusing and detailed way that I immediately suspected his words were copied and pasted. I teasingly told him my suspicion; he was horrified to be thought of as a cheat and charlatan. Trrricky start!
How to manage your dating expectations
Over the next week or so we exchanged flirty, playful messages and arranged to meet.
By the time the planned day arrived, my anticipation was at such a pitch I was almost prepared for disappointment. And yes, there was minor initial dismay at the sight of the expanded outline of the man facing me. He was very large indeed. No matter, when we sat down his girth was less apparent and, first large glass of Pinot Noir out of the way, I began to relax into the conversation. Then I asked Tom, as sensitively as I could, how long he had been widowed for, and what had happened to his poor wife?
His response sent my jaw to the floor. Ah, well, he held forth (straight-backed and looking directly at me), the thing was, his wife wasn’t actually dead. As such. It was just that she had MS.
Err, hold on… you’re saying she hasn’t actually died?!
Tips to get the most from your online dating profile
He said he felt justified in telling me he was widowed because he had already ‘lost’ her and was still working through the ‘bereavement’ and his grief.
I felt duped, let down, and asked him if he would accept that perhaps what he’d said in his profile about being widowed was rather disingenuous?
He shot straight back at me: ‘You say I’m being disingenuous, but what about the profile pic you’ve used on the dating site – how out of date is that?’
Okay, it was maybe a couple of years old, but I felt that using it was slightly less of a biggie than implying that your spouse is dead and buried when she is still very much alive.
A heated spat followed. Tom became angry and rose to leave. He obviously felt attacked (and probably a bit guilty). I persuaded him to calm down, stay and talk. We had a long conversation about his marriage; he told me he had his wife’s written permission to look for a girlfriend as long as he carried on caring for her at home.
At the end of the evening, we kissed, and he asked if he could come home with me. I wasn’t
at all ready for this, and politely declined. But it wasn’t long before he did come back with me, and next month I’ll share (some of) the details of our first night together. One I shall remember forever.
My new squeeze Tom and I had planned that, on his next work trip to London (he lived 80 miles away), he would come and stay with me – our first night together.
At the time my sons – both in their twenties – were living some of the time with me, the rest with their dad. Tom, whom I’d met via online dating, had made it clear he did not want to lay eyes on either of them, and vice versa, so I asked them to make sure that they stayed away that Wednesday evening.
He was due to arrive at my house around 7pm and I had planned to cook a nice supper.
At 4pm my agent called to confirm my appearance on the Phil Williams Show on Radio Five Live that evening. This was a phone-in spot I did once a month, responding to callers’ domestic queries.
What? In my diary it was the following night. ‘But I have a hot date!’ I said, ‘I can’t disappear from 11.15pm until 1.30am.’
Then my Scottish sense of responsibility came to the fore (it’s always lurking there, ready to kick in and, I reasoned, this man may not be around for long). ‘Don’t worry,’ I chirped, ‘I’ll be there.’
Now I had to break the news to Tom. I intuited from a few of our conversations that he had a tendency towards touchiness (moody, that is, rather than tactile) so I wondered how to tell him our special night, which we’d both been looking forward to, would have a big hole driven into it. Should I call to forewarn him (and risk him getting upset and cancelling) or wait till he arrived? I decided on the latter. Crafty and cagey, I know.
So when Tom arrived at 7pm, all smiles and kisses and carrying a specially chosen bottle of wine, I told him in the hallway that I had some bad news. (I reckon it’s always better to overegg, in the hope that the information delivered won’t seem quite so bad after all.)
I was nervous and guilty, and in such a situation, I tend to giggle. I can’t help it. So there I was, inappropriately honking away at the fact that I would have to be out of the house for over two hours in the middle of our first night together.
He didn’t seem to see the funny side of it – funnily enough. And, just as I was mid stupid giggle, son Ewan came through the front door. ‘Sorry, Mum – just picking something up – won’t be long.’ The two males eyed each other up and down, like dogs wondering whether to attack each other. Uh-oh – another mark against me. Tom’s mood was not great.
Bridging the great divide between cosy, comfy Mum and would-be femme fatale is a perennial problem for later daters. But, hey boys, older girls still wanna have some fun.
So I shovelled Ewan out the door as quickly as I could, thrust a glass of wine into Tom’s hand and tried to make light of the whole sorry mess. Sans giggles this time. We had a nice supper and headed upstairs for Round One. I set my alarm for 11pm and left a sleeping Tom in my bed. On my return, I slipped back in next to him, thinking he may have slept through my absence.
None of it. He was mortally offended that I had abandoned him. And later that morning, he did not appreciate my naming the incident ‘Radiogate’.
No matter, instead I took much pleasure in broadcasting the incident to all my mates (who did see the funny side).
Tom and I continued to see one another for some time, but would the gulf between our lifestyles be too massive for long-term love?
Only time would tell…