Jackie Bird’s Col­umn

“Now our most en­dur­ing re­la­tion­ship could be the one that starts when we’re menopausal”

No. 1 Magazine - - SCOTLAND’S NO.1 -

“I won­der what Tin­der is like?” I mused as I pon­dered this col­umn. My hus­band was slightly con­cerned, “Is it be­cause I left my beard shav­ings in the sink again?” Although I’m not in the mar­ket for a re­la­tion­ship, I can’t help but be cu­ri­ous about what on­line dat­ing has brought to the search for Mr, Mrs, or in­deed gen­der neu­tral Right. In my day, dat­ing agen­cies as they were called, were rare and ex­pen­sive. It was ei­ther that or ad­ver­tise­ments in the news­pa­pers, but even the col­umn ti­tle – ‘Lonely Hearts’ – reeked of des­per­a­tion. So usu­ally the search for a part­ner in­volved haunt­ing var­i­ous bars and night­clubs in the hope that you’d strike it lucky. Oh the hours I spent pre­tend­ing I was hav­ing fun with my girl pals when all we re­ally wanted was to catch the eye of some at­trac­tive man. That was in the days be­fore Girl Power and all that, but if you’re try­ing to tell me that the ma­jor­ity of em­pow­ered women these days aren’t also look­ing for a bit of ro­mance, then I’m Sporty Spice. That’s why I’m a bit en­vi­ous of the Tin­der gen­er­a­tion. For­get bor­ing nights in bars, what a joy it must be to lounge in your py­ja­mas, type in a wish-list and wait for all those po­ten­tial part­ners to come to mamma. OK, I know it’s not quite as easy as that. My daugh­ter in­forms me that all of life is out there in the world­wide web, in­clud­ing a lot of world­wide weirdos. Ac­cord­ing to her, there’s a no­table num­ber of guys who be­gin by send­ing com­pletely ra­tio­nal texts and then, in­ex­pli­ca­bly, pro­ceed to de­light you with un­so­licited pho­to­graphs of in­ti­mate parts of their anatomy. De­spite the draw­backs, my daugh­ter swipes away mer­rily and has been on some great dates. Those mil­len­ni­als might not be able to buy a house, get a full-time job, or even re­tire be­fore they’re dou­bly in­con­ti­nent, but by gum, dat­ing in the 21st cen­tury sounds like fun. But on­line dat­ing isn’t just for the young and un­in­hib­ited. A 50-some­thing friend of mine who was dumped by her hus­band went through the sob­bing, snot­tery stage for a while and even­tu­ally caved into pals’ pres­sure to sign up to a dat­ing site. She’s now see­ing a won­der­ful man far more suited to her than her ex-hus­band ever was. Dat­ing sites are one of the big­gest on­line money mak­ers with an es­ti­mated 1,400 firms in the UK mon­etis­ing those look­ing for lurve. But it’s never been com­pletely al­tru­is­tic; the ear­li­est match­mak­ers were recorded in the 18th cen­tury when church min­is­ters reg­u­larly hooked up sin­gle parish­ioners, thereby en­sur­ing plenty of wed­dings and chris­ten­ings in the diary too. Nowa­days dat­ing sites cater for ev­ery predilec­tion. I searched for one for cat lovers and up popped some­thing called ‘Purrson­als’. I re­ally will have some ex­plain­ing to do if Him In­doors stum­bles on my search his­tory. Even De­brett’s, the posh per­son’s hand­book of eti­quette, is rein­vent­ing it­self as the Down­ton Abbey of dat­ing for the over 50s. “No longer the ex­clu­sive realm of odd­balls and the down­right dis­turbed,” it ex­plains, in an in­tro­duc­tion some­what lack­ing in diplo­macy, “in­ter­net dat­ing gives the user the abil­ity to pick and choose with­out meet­ing a mul­ti­tude of no-hop­ers.” In­sults aside, De­brett’s does con­tain plenty of ad­vice for those of us an­cient enough to remember when phones were for talk­ing to peo­ple. The web­site will ad­vise you how to en­sure your pho­to­graph is stylish rather than scary and warns you not to give all the de­tails of your messy di­vorce or manic de­pres­sion in your first flirty emails. Per­son­ally I think dat­ing and the in­ter­net are a per­fect match and not just be­cause they en­able women, tra­di­tion­ally less likely to make the first move, to have greater free­dom and a much big­ger field to play. It’s also be­cause we’re liv­ing a lot longer. A few decades ago, a man or woman wid­owed or di­vorced in their 60s wouldn’t re­ally have con­tem­plated a new part­ner. Now the most en­dur­ing re­la­tion­ship of our life could be the one that starts when we’re menopausal rather than in our 20s. Know­ing that there’s an eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble in­dus­try in­tent on match­ing us all up at the click of a mouse is strangely re­as­sur­ing... even if it’s only an idle threat to make sure he cleans the sink af­ter shav­ing.

Those mil­len­ni­als might not be able to buy a house, get a full-time job or re­tire be­fore they’re dou­bly in­con­ti­nent, but by gum, dat­ing in the 21st cen­tury sounds like fun.”

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