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Walking the Tightrope: Dating

Sally Codman considers the dating game and decides that a good man would be hard to find.

It's strange how the mind works - you'd expect photos of a wedding to trigger memories of my own nuptial experiences many moons ago. I did give them a passing thought but I must confess my mind then strayed to something completely different.

The lovely photos of a friend's daughter's wedding included those of a couple married for years before splitting up. They stood next to each other in the pics, complete with new 'partners' as they're called nowadays, happy and relaxed with their children looking on.

All of which set me wondering how they'd successfully found new mates and whether I'd manage to do the same if anything ever happened (God forbid) to Mr C. Of course my natural politeness prevented me from asking how the couples had met up but I was curious.

How on earth do you start playing the Dating Game after a break of many, many years (I was a child bride) After years of slobbing around in jeans and tracksuits and choosing hairstyles because they're quick and easy, rather than flattering, could I even be bothered?

Time was when you met someone through a friend of a friend, or perhaps a scheming relative. Take Mc C and me, for instance. I used to go out with one of his friends, he used to go out with one of my friends. We all went to the same parties, knew the same people and a few years of this mixing and matching resulted in a lot of wedding bells.

Today things are very different. With one in three marriages ending in divorce, there are an awful lot of people out there with a lot of history dragging around behind them. Not to mention children and an assortment of other, complicated, in-law-type relationships. Middle-aged people tend to come as part of a very complicated package that I'm not sure I'd want. Life's complicated enough as it is.

On the other hand, any guy who's not settled down before must have some serious character flaws - you can't help suspecting they must be alcoholics, workaholics, sportaholics, egoaholics, hobbyaholics, or half in the closet.

A bit of research into the latest trends in the Dating Game revealed that the Internet and Speed-dating are popular amongst young, free and lonely professionals, too busy working to try more traditional ways of finding a mate.

Although the 'speed-dating' idea doesn't actually involve taking any chemical substances before you begin, most of the accounts I've read make this method sound as if you'd need a bit of help to reach the finishing line. The idea - imported from America - sees 50 young hopefuls paying around 25 a head to meet up in a bar for an evening of speed-chatting. An organiser gives out cards so you can rate your date after a meeting of around five minutes, arranges the swapping of contact details and, of course, takes your money.
Now call me a cynical old codger (not to my face, please) but I'm willing to bet that the chances of getting to know much about anyone in five minutes - other than admitting you don't fancy them at all - isn't all that likely. I bet Attila the Hun, Hitler and Bluebeard could probably have managed to be charming for five minutes if they took a fancy to you

As for meeting anyone over the net, much too dodgy. What you'd see online wouldn't be what you'd get. Too many people would be tempted to shed a few years, a few pounds, a few partners, not to mention uploading flattering pics of themselves taken years ago, or even photos of their better-looking friends. You couldn't even be sure if you were chatting-up a guy or gal - it's a strange, strange world out there.

More photogenic (or perhaps more desperate) soul-seekers have even started plastering their pics and numbers across billboards and one magazine I bought last week has a 're-cycle your men' column!

All the evidence points to good guys being hard to find. Perhaps I'll start taking better care of Mr C. And if the worst comes to the worst and he leaves me for a younger model with less mileage and better bodywork, I could always get another cat and stock up on the chocolate and wine. It certainly sounds less risky than playing the Dating Game these days.



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