Elaine Kingett, Fig A

I bumped into a friend-of-a-friend the other day and she was telling me that over a decade after her husband died (he had leukemia, they were together 32 years), she’d tried online dating. Elaine Kingett is an award-winning journalist and ex-features writer for Woman & Home magazine. I thought you’d be interested to hear about her experience and why she’s decided internet dating is HELL:

Oh, the terror of the all-important profile pic. Instant rejection or the chance of a second glance. The possibility of a new relationship based solely on your physical attributes and your ability to ‘take a nice photo’ as my late mother would say. Sod how warm, intelligent and sexy you may be in reality, if your face don’t fit, you’re not even getting a wink, let alone 10 minutes in the local Costa. Youngsters bloom in any lighting; full sun or strip neon. Their skin has no valleys to catch the shade, no wrinkles to trace the contours. So we fake it and try not to simper, leer or dribble. A photo taken 38-years ago, Fig C. Photo Photoshopped and taken four years ago, Fig B. Photo taken three months ago, not Photoshopped, Fig A. But NEVER pulling a weird face in a selfie, Fig D. I can’t be the only woman who looks at a bloke’s profile pic and thinks, ‘Would I like that bearing down on me?’

Men are fond of the Action Man pose, ‘Here’s me up a mountain, I’m well fit,’ with a very large fish or bizarrely, with a small child or a young girl, which we hope is their daughter but experience yells at me, ‘Beware the spawn of my ex-wife.’

It is a ridiculous state of affairs. Photos do lie. This whole business is based on the hope that a passport photo and 30 quid a month will bring love or at least a nice dinner and some sweaty sex. But when you’re older, what else can you do? Down the pub? I do that with my daughter or couples that I know but I can hardly roam around the saloon bar with my knuckles on the floor, sniffing out the singles. Go dancing? Where? I’ve started 5 Rhythms, don’t laugh. I feel safe going on my own and Jess plays good music but it’s hardly a contact sport. Take the dog out? Thrilling and I look just fabulous in waterproof clothing. Don’t go there.

Guardian Soulmates have emailed – they’ve got a sale on. BOGOF?!

Elaine has now been been experimenting with free dating apps such as the dreaded Tinder – which she is assured is not just for sex. Honest. Happn ‘for when your paths cross’ (#stalker) and Tastebuds which promises to match your tastes – and seems to be matching hers to 25-year-olds in Wembley.

More later.

Elaine runs creative writing holidays in Spain and France, for more information check out Write It Down.

25 thoughts on “A mature woman’s internet dating hell

  1. I can’t entirely agree – you know why! However, there were a few horror stories along the way: the bloke (called Mr Sunshine – yeah, right) who asked if he should book a room above the pub we were meeting in for the first time! The one who wanted to know the details of where I changed trains on my commute, how punctual the service was etc etc. And the one who didn’t ask me a single question about myself, not one, over the course of 3 hrs. He also smelled as though he’d marinated his clothes in old fags. And the classic: his pic was 10 yrs old!

  2. I just haven’t had the nerve so I salute your courage Elaine! Fig A is the best photo imo – you look so attractive – who knows what men will think of it…. I’m at a loss as to what to do to meet interesting and attractive men of my vintage. Perhaps I’m just too content on my own??? All the very best and I’m off to check out your writing holidays!

  3. Well I seem to have had as different experience. Back in the day when dating agencies were in their infancy and it was then thought you had to be desperate or a looser to join one. I did at age 48. After 3 years of meeting “frogs” I finally found my “prince” . We have now been together for 16 years and married for 14. If you know what you want, learn to get over the rejection and persevere anything is possible.

  4. I was widowed in my 50th year. (Leukemia.) My first experience with “internet relationships” was actually with a support group for those who had been widowed earlier in life. I learned how supportive the written word can be, and how well you can get to know someone sight unseen. I also learned the difference between a virtual friend and a real friend when many of us in the on line group began to meet in person. Ten years later, and many of those men and women are still good friends who have helped each other to rebuild our lives.

    I approached internet dating somewhat informed by the above. The on line profile is a calling card, but it is by no means the person. Some people come across digitally much better than they do in real life. Others come across like cretins in the written word, but are gold in person. And then there is everything in between.

    My expectations for the whole on line dating thing were very low. I aimed for some evenings out of the house, and some interesting (defined broadly) conversations. I met some remarkably dysfunctional people, some who I thought were frogs, others who thought I was. And it was all fine.

    In my 6th year of widowhood I met a man whose daughters had forced him to put up a profile. He was barely computer literate. He was bald, paunchy, his profile was brutally depressed sounding…. but he was a widow, and the chance to spend time with another widow is always welcome. We met. He was WAY nicer in person, We became friends, and eventually I married him (after an epic Valentine’s Day proposal where he got down on one knee in a restaurant and was actually able to get back up!)

    On line dating requires a certain sense of adventure. It is more about meeting people and being curious than it is about finding a potential partner. It requires determination to have fun with it. And it generates some fascinating experiences. I highly recommend it!

  5. Hilarious! Ms Kingett writes well about this touchy topic, and I can’t imagine myself trying online dating, let alone persevering with it. However, I have a close friend who found her very bright, likeable, good-looking partner there 6 or 7 years ago and is still with him. And one of my daughters may or may not have found a wonderful partner online, and if she did, she may or may not permit me to spread that tidbit….Good luck!

  6. I don’t know how I’d feel if I were to become single, but if there were speed dating for mature people that may work .
    I think I’d hang around art galleries and join Ramblers first .

  7. Loved this. Anyone over 40 who’s dipped their toes into the minefield of Internet dating can surely relate, I know I can. Having split up with my partner six months ago I felt the time was right to dip mine in again at the beginning of this year. It’s been a mixed experience so far, why oh why do men think we’ll want to see their genitalia?! Not all of them of course, but plenty that do that you really would think are old enough to know better. Also, twentysomethings… I’m flattered but I’m not looking to play cougar with someone closer in age to my son and daughter. I approach it with a healthy dose of humour and a vague hope that I might strike lucky and find that elusive needle in a haystack. My time would probably be better spent setting up and working on the blog I’ve told myself I’m going to start for the last however long!

  8. Yes they do lie, at least most of them. So when I met someone who looked like his photo, really DID have all his teeth-I fell. I had been single for 16 years. Only about 3% of the men on these sites are genuine or worth your time. That may also apply to the women on the same site. Its not us the men. Be careful out there, be very very careful. I did marry Mr. Honest. I find out new things about him every day. Dont be in a hurry to give up your independence. Have dinner with a friend, adopt a dog, because there is nothing wrong with being single. You are not alone, you are single.

  9. I can’t imagine having to go through that now, although I did answer some personal ads in the newspaper before I met my husband. I met some very nice men and had some nice conversations, but never wanted to take it further.

    However, a friend in Seattle got matched up with a fellow nerd on Geek Love (or something like that). She had specified meeting someone within 25 miles, but somehow one of the men she met was in Glasgow! He was The One. They married one year to the day after they “met” online, and he now lives in Seattle. They are soooooo good together!

  10. I like @Margaret’s perspective, and Elaine’s Fig. A photo is stunning! I waded into online dating two years at age 49 after splitting from my marriage. It was really really really weird at first. Having senses of humor and exploration is a must! It was really fun sharing crazy dating stories with my friends. I, too, labored over the photos and read OKCupid’s stats re photos that yield the most clicks…Anyway, I’m coming up on my 2nd anniversary with someone I met on OKC (after only six weeks unbelievably). He is wonderful. But no more funny stories to tell the friends. 🙂

  11. Kingett put a smile on my face………..I salut all of you who have tried internet dating and shared your experiences. Our children are happily (and I hope permanently) matched, but the problems expressed here by mature adults I’m also observing in young 25+ year olds who want to meet the right person but don’t have the time or desire hang out in places where they will find other singles. Margaret seems to have the right perspective, but one can’t put an old head on young shoulders when it comes to younger daters.

  12. Finding a lifetime partner was always a risky business . With hubby & I it was eyes meeting across a crowded room fifty years ago – we were VERY young & that was risky too . I admire the people who take matters into their own hands & opt for Internet dating . Three of my friends have found lovely partners in that way & , I must say , they seem to really appreciate each other . They seemed to get a little bruised before the right one appeared but say it was well worth it .

  13. Hi Alyson
    Just want to say huge congrats on your FAB blog !! It really hits the spot and is refreshingly appropriate for modern women in our prime like us!! Love the look of your book too and note that you launched in NYC with the amazing Mrs Robertson. We collaborate on shoots for Livingetc (my day job) when she’s not too busy. Life is obviously treating you well and you deserve every success. Mary xx

    1. Mary, hello! How are you? Thanks so much for your lovely words. Hilary Robertson is amazing and talented, and she basically made my NYC launch happen. How brilliant that you work together.

  14. Standing up for those singles who’ve been there, done that and are now very happy on their own. Can’t imagine compromising my life in any way….oh the joy of doing exactly what I want. However if you’re looking…..very good luck!

  15. My Frenchman and I have been together for 11 years now. We met on the internet. Good things do happen. I chose not to post a pic of me when I was online. I don’t know if that is the case anymore. Maybe you have to post your pic.
    Regardless, I’m a big believer of honesty. My blog is chock-full of horrific photos of me and it’s cool. There is more to a person than looks.
    This is a very good post!!! Thank you for writing about this!

  16. I met my husband on, married a year later and will be celebrating our 10th anniversary this June. It can work!

  17. Loved this! Makes me think online dating might get easier and even more fun with the wisdom that comes with age.

  18. Brilliant post, Alyson, so many women of our age can relate to it.
    At 53 I am single again for 1,5 years now and never had a date ever since. I don’t want to give up my independance which I feel is something a lot of men are a bit scared of… and I am scared of meeting a stranger for a cup of coffee! That’s one of the reasons I am not ready for online dating as I am old-fashioned and still waiting for someone knock on my door 😉 Honestly, I hate the feeling of putting myself out on a marketplace rather than making eye-contact, have a random chat and slowly building it up to a date.
    Dorrie of is a fabulous woman of 81 (!) and wrote a series about online dating on her blog.

  19. Having been married for the last forty years (and counting), I have never tried online dating myself. It is difficult to me to imagine resorting to it, given the many in-real-life opportunities there are to meet people. In my almost-large city, for example, one can take classes in almost any subject (through the local universities and colleges, as well as art and history museums, literary societies, music groups, recreational or clubs, foreign language or culture groups, etc.), join the (other) activities of groups dedicated to political advocacy or other interests, get involved in a professional organization, or engage in volunteer work. Actually, I most often meet and get to know people I find interesting through walking my two very friendly dogs every day and hiking with them on weekends. Another place where I have met stimulating people is in the small-group activities and classes of my spiritual community. It seems that often, one is most likely to find a romantic interest when one is following one’s own interests or passions rather than focused squarely on looking for love. That was certainly true for my husband and me, who met in the most unlikely setting for romance: law school.

  20. I was single in my late 30’s and tried everything – newspaper ads (yes, this was around 20 years ago), (in its early days), organized singles events (the horror, the horror), telling everyone I knew that I was open to being set up, and as a result – blind dates. Crass as it may sound, I really looked at my search for a partner (really, a husband. I wanted a to be married. I wanted a husband.) as almost a part-time job. I was a University administrator, and didn’t want to date anyone at work, and most of my free time was spent riding my horse English hunt-seat (all women and a few gay men). The best thing about on-line dating for me was learning what I really wanted in a man, and realizing that I was going to probably marry a divorced man, who would most likely have kids. Eventually, after lots and lots of dates, I met the man I was looking for on a blind date. He was 50, had been married for 27 years and had three kids, and I was 40 and unmarried.

  21. Have not had to face Internet dating, yet, but it sounds wildly interesting. At the age of 28, I finally divorced my philandering husband. Getting back into the dating scene was quite a shock. I was very pretty and attracted many “younger” men (21 ish) but they were not my style. Finally, I decided that I did not actually know what I wanted. You have a good idea of what you want when you buy a house or a car, why not decide what you want and “can afford” in a potential life partner? At least it gives one some focus.

    Time is money, especially with the Bio Clock ticking away so first I made a list of disqualifiers (no smokers, no one under 6 feet tall, no one heavier than chubby, no one manically interested in sports, no drinkers, no “I am separated”) then a list of must-haves. Classified Ad dating was popular then (because we did not have the internet) and I got a huge stack of interesting responses in the mail from my first Ad. The most memorable was from a guy in Las Vegas who wrote each line with a different color pen. (Didn’t know there were so many colors available.) However, never had time to follow up with any because within two weeks of making my “list of qualifications”, I met my husband-to-be at a New Year’s Eve dance AT CHURCH. We got engaged 6 days later and have been married for over 35 years.

  22. DITTO TO LESLIE IN OREGON! Join clubs and / or take classes. At least you will have something worthwhile to show for your time even if you do not meet “the one” right away. Better to stay home and do your nails, make a quilt or clean your house than kill time on a bunch of worthless dates. Learn about yourself and improve what you can improve so you will be the “right one” when your “right one” comes along.

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