Why I broke my 20 year man ban
After swearing off men forever, Louise Tennant, 57, from Coventry, was faced with a welcome blast from the past
Sitting in front of the telly, I picked up my ipad and started scrolling through Facebook. Since my kids Ben, 33, and Becky, 27, had left home, the place had felt a lot quieter.
So it was nice to feel connected to them in some way, even when they weren’t around.
That said, I was more than happy with my own company.
It had been that way for 23 years, since the kids’ dad and I split up.
Ben was nine and Becky was just four at the time.
Heartbroken, I’d sworn myself off men completely.
And from that moment on, my kids were my one and only priority.
Men, love, relationships? They didn’t enter my head.
Only, that night in October 2016, a message suddenly appeared in my Facebook inbox.
Hi, remember me? It’s Dave Evans from Gibraltar. My jaw dropped. ‘Blooming heck!’ I squeaked, my heart pounding. Talk about a blast from the past! Of course I remember you, I typed back quickly. How could I forget? Dave Evans was my first love. We’d met in Gibraltar back in March 1981.
I was 20, on my first holiday abroad with friends.
We were celebrating the end of our nursing exams in a bar one night when a tall, handsome stranger had approached me. ‘Fancy a dance?’ he’d said. I was attracted to him straight away – he was so handsome!
‘Go on then!’ I’d grinned, taking his hand.
After hitting the dance floor, we’d sat down for a chat.
Dave, then 25, had told me he was in the Army and was stationed out in Gibraltar for three months. We’d talked for hours.
And before I knew it, the bar was closing.
For the rest of the holiday, Dave and I had become inseparable, but all too soon it had been time for me to return home.
Smitten, within eight weeks, in May 1981, I was flying back to Gibraltar, this time without my friends.
Those next days had been so romantic, sharing bottles of wine and kisses in the sun.
Before long, Dave was back in the UK, stationed at a base in Maidstone, 140 miles away from my home in Coventry.
I’d hoped our romance would blossom, but our busy lives meant it had been hard for us to meet up.
In truth, we began drifting apart.
So when Dave was stationed abroad again in April 1982, with no access to a phone, it seemed inevitable that we’d lose touch.
It was sad, but I was so young – just 21 – and still working out what I wanted to do with my life.
And there was one thing I knew for certain – I didn’t want to be an Army wife.
So I’d moved on, and a few months after Dave had left, I met the father of my children.
We’d never married, but we were together for 10 years before it all went wrong.
And I’d been single ever since – I concentrated on my kids, volunteering as a foster carer and working as a part time teaching assistant for children with special needs.
So Dave’s message had taken me by surprise.
Checking out his profile
We’d had our fun in the sun
picture, I found myself smiling.
He looked older, of course, but he was still so cute.
Firing messages back and forth, I discovered Dave worked on the Isle of Man as a taxi driver.
I’ve been wed and divorced twice, he admitted.
So I told him about my breakup and the kids.
It was like no time had passed at all.
We swapped phone numbers and it wasn’t long before we were chatting.
Then Dave announced that he was visiting family on the mainland the following week.
‘I could pop round and see you,’ he said. I panicked. Is he after some nostalgic fling? Because I wasn’t – not with him or anyone else.
But Dave must have sensed my concern.
‘I just want to have a cup of coffee and catch up,’ he said. ‘Then I’ll find a hotel.’ So I agreed. I felt sick with nerves when, a week later, Dave was standing on my doorstep.
He was still handsome, just a little greyer around the edges. ‘You look older,’ I blurted. ‘So do you!’ he laughed. Grabbing a coffee, we sat on the sofa together.
‘I got back in touch because I had a dream about you,’ Dave said. I raised an eyebrow. ‘Oh, really?’ I said, wondering where this was going. Dave started to laugh. ‘OK, you were wearing your nurse’s uniform, but it was nothing dodgy!’ he winked, flirtatious.
‘And it just made me wonder what had ever happened to you.’
The rest of the day flew by in a whirl of chat and laughter.
I’d forgotten just how funny and sweet Dave was.
And damned sexy, too! Not that I told him… Soon it was pushing 11pm. Too late for Dave to find a hotel. ‘You can stay in the spare room,’ I said shyly. Going to bed in the next room, I felt strange. I was half thrilled, half terrified. There was no doubt I still fancied Dave. Did he feel it, too? And if do, dare I do anything about it? I’d been so hurt in the past… These questions were still whirling the next morning when my daughter Becky came to visit with my two grandkids. I thought Dave would scarper, but he stayed all day, chatting and helping out. And that night, over a pub meal and a few drinks, I began to let down my defences. Warmed by alcohol, we started reminiscing about our time in Gibraltar all those years ago. ‘We had so much fun,’ I laughed as Dave poured me another glass of white wine. ‘We did,’ he agreed. For a moment, he fell silent… Then he smiled, his gorgeous green eyes twinkling.
‘I still fancy you, you know,’ he said shyly. I felt my stomach turn to liquid. It was now or never. ‘Me too,’ I said, blushing slightly. The night took a very flirty turn from then on.
Let’s just say, come closing time, I knew Dave wouldn’t be crashing in the spare room.
It’s been 18 months now, and me and Dave are madly in love.
He’s met all my family, and I’ve met his – even one of his ex-wives! We all get on so well. Dave still lives on the Isle of Man, and has asked me to move over there.
But my whole life is in Coventry, and I’d miss my children and grandchildren.
We spend two or three weeks together, and then a month apart.
It keeps things exciting. I’ve retired this month, which will give us more time together.
We speak on the phone every day and we’re always hopping on planes for exotic getaways.
But this time it isn’t just a holiday romance. It’s for keeps.
Would I break my ban for him?
Dave had a dream about me
Dave was my first love
Reunited after decades
Madly in love again