We had arranged to meet in a pub opposite Reading Station.But just before I was due to set off, he rang to say he had changed his mind. Online dating for older people sounds such a good idea, and ever more of us are signing up in the hope of meeting a wonderful new partner.
Yet on internet sites, there are dozens, hundreds, possibly even thousands of single people seemingly just like you, all looking for that special person to alleviate their loneliness and provide excitement and companionship for their later years.
Henning Wiechers, who conducted the recent survey on behalf of Metaflake, the vast German online dating agency, claimed that when people are too old to go clubbing, they need to access a second marriage market — and that the internet provides the perfect forum. While online dating is certainly booming in popularity — the industry is worth £170 million in the UK, with nine million of us now logging on in the hope that we will find somebody, otherwise unreachable, who will be just right for us — my experiences should serve as something of a warning to others looking for love online.
After my partner died, I thought to myself: ‘Online dating is the modern way to go.’ I was pretty certain I would soon find my ideal person, somebody clever, witty, good-looking, successful, excellent company, open to new ideas, well-read and with a sense of purpose in life.
If I’m looking for him, he must be looking for me, I reasoned.
I couldn’t even face drinking a cup of coffee there, let alone anything else. At least 25 per cent of men who go onto these sites are married and wanting a fling rather than a serious relationship.
The word ‘separated’ can often be translated as ‘still living in the family home and sleeping with my wife’.
One divorced man of my age, who has been on these sites for six years, said that the first woman he met was £50,000 in debt, another wanted him to give her £350 to get her car out of the garage and a third hadn’t mentioned that she had severely impaired vision — the ultimate blind date.
Another man said that he met somebody who seemed great and they got on so well that they arranged to go on a holiday to South Africa together.
None seemed to have any of the extra pounds that actually counted, namely money.
I read that they were ‘mortgage slaves’ — at 60 plus! Not only did he expect me to buy my own drinks — I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that a man should pay on the first date — but it turned out he had huge baggage.
— that they were ‘comfortable in their old jeans’, that they liked country walks and red wine. At 63 he had a teenage son, plus he was paying maintenance for two other children from an earlier relationship.