Looking for love

Dating is hard. Dating in your late 30s and early 40s is hard. Dating as a widow is hard. And trying to do all three at once is a massive challenge! (I imagine that had I been blessed with children, dating would be nearly impossible!)

[Note: I know that dating as a never-married or divorced person in their late 30s and early 40s is hard, too. But I’ve never done it so can’t speak to those challenges, so will stick to the widowhood stuff. This blog is, after all, about me. But I digress…]

Regular readers may know that the idea of re-entering the dating world was a bit scary and confusing for me, even though I knew Paul would want me to find a new love to share my life with. They’ll also know that I had a frustrating start that led to lots of hurt feelings. But never one to let disappointment hold me back, I tried my hand at online dating again last year. It was an interesting adventure that led me to believe that online dating isn’t for me.

Luckily, towards the end of my online dating experience, I met a real, live man. We went out on a few dates and I started to think that maybe I had found someone I could have a proper relationship with. Sadly, I was wrong. (He’s a great guy, but we’re not a match for whatever reason. It happens. Especially when you’re me.)

But that real-life meeting reminded me of a few important things. Like meeting someone in real life is way, way better than meeting someone online. After all, when you’re trying to find out if someone is a good match for you based on computer algorithms, you miss out on the all-important chemistry of someone who might be outside of your “ideal” criteria – but you also end up wasting your time meeting with people who might have the “right” look on paper, but there’s absolutely no spark what-so-ever.

And so I’ve decided that I do want to look for someone special – but not by actively looking online. But what does that actually mean?

(Sorry, that was a longer set-up than I expected. I hope you’re still with me …)

Here’s where the really hard part comes in. I am 41 years old. I don’t have an active social life. The limited social I do have involves spending time with married couples who don’t have single friends. I am not the kind of person who just chats up strangers. (Well, I did chat up my late husband. So…) And, of course, I am a widow.

These things all combine to create an impossible a challenging dating situation.

OK, that’s the challenge. Now, what am I going to do about it? Well, I guess I need to get out of the house more to meet more people. And I need to actually talk to people when I’m out.

In my simplistic daydream of the situation, I will simply put on a pretty dress and take myself to a classy cocktail bar on a Friday evening. There, I’ll order a RyanCentric Martini at the bar, and maybe I’ll even enjoy a light dinner, too.

As I sit there, perched on a barstool, some nice man will glance at me and smile… and we’ll strike up a conversation. We’ll laugh; we’ll flirt; he’ll ask for my phone number. And before you know it, he’s courting me and we’re falling in love.

Aw… isn’t that a lovely idea?

The reality, I’m sure, will be something very different.

But being realistic, the odds of that happening will be higher if I actually put on the dress and leave the house than if I stay home watching television in my pyjamas.

So throughout the rest of March, I am going to work on getting out a bit more. I will identify some good places that I can go to on my own. I will check out event listings for public talks and seminars where I might meet new people whilst learning new things. And I will remember to smile at, or otherwise acknowledge, any good-looking men I might see when I’m shopping at Waitrose.

And by the time the weather warms up in April and May, I hope to have a little more confidence… which will maybe help me to carry on with the plan to meet someone. Of course, if I don’t meet anyone, at least I’ll have given my confidence a boost. (Hopefully.)

I’m happy to take any tips for how best to chat up a guy at a cocktail lounge (without seeming desperate or “on the clock”) or any other great ideas.

Wish me luck!

5 Replies to “Looking for love”

  1. Hello Frances,

    Ok, on the whole bar/cocktail chat up question.

    To bolster up my student grant, I worked as a barman in Edinburgh and Glasgow city centre bars for a few years back in the ‘80’s, and noticed the following (well that’s the story I’m sticking with anyway)

    Avoid Weekend nights – aside from the obvious drunken revellers, it’s mostly about groups and couples out on the town. Not really conducive to the slow quiet simmer of stolen glances and smiles you have in mind (I’m guessing).
    Avoid Mondays – normally a bit too quiet really – in fact normally completely dead.
    Stick to TWT – Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Pretty good for people who are single, stopping off for a quiet solitary drink and something to eat before heading home from work (a lot of normal, nice single guys do this – I was one).
    If you do the TWT thing, then definitely do treat yourself to dinner. It sort of helps with the self conscious thing. Also it sends the message (in a nice way) that you may well be single/unattached.
    Also, once you’ve found somewhere you like and which has the sort of clientele you might want to meet, go regularly around the same day/time of week. You get to know the bar staff and regulars. You also become a bit more confident in the environment which makes you more confident in general.
    Finally, you’re an intelligent, attractive, smiley girl. Any unattached man in the vicinity (along with the attached to be honest), will notice you. You just have to decide whether you deign to notice him back.

    Just some ideas if you are going to brave the bar/cocktail lounge avenue.

    Hope those help.

    1. Oh, I forgot one.

      Use your accent.

      If you see someone you like the look of, make sure you do your ordering/chatting to the bar staff within his hearing range. Your accent gives him a low risk conversation opener.

      Just don’t be too judgemental if it’s a tired old gambit you’ve heard a million times before. Give him a wee bit of an opportunity to redeem himself, the man’s out on a limb here!

      1. Wow, Ephemera! Loads of excellent advice and I am genuinely thankful for it. One of my worries with the plan was lads on a night out, but your TWT plan sorts that. And you’re right – ordering food will be a positive thing.

        I hadn’t thought about the accent as a good opener, so will keep that in mind. And I’ll try my best to give the guys a break… really!

        Now the hard part: How do I find the right place? Somewhere that attracts the sort of guy I might be interested in, but also somewhere accessible and safe. I guess I’ll have to do a bit of research there.

        Again, thank you so much for your tips. I will use them as my guide when I head out in the next week or two. Wish me luck!

  2. Hi Frances,

    One of the places I used to work (and hence the basis for my advice) was a place called the “Tilted Wig” down in the New Town (Cumberland Street).

    Apparently now called Cumberland Bar, but from what I hear, pretty much the same place and crowd as always.

    Really good food, nice selection of drinks, no TV or jukebox, and mainly professional types heading for a drink/meal after work. Mind you, depends what your feeling is on the legal profession – predominantly solicitors, judges, and posh students (which I wasn’t obviously – hence the job) – including Phd types (if you’ve not had enough of those by early evening). Put it this way, I became very adept at pink gins!

    Anyway, definitely worth a visit, not sure if it’s handy.

    From a safety point of view, pretty central and early evening crowd pretty normal/non inebriated.

    Added bonus is it had/has one of the nicest beer gardens in Edinburgh (even makes lists of nicest beer gardens in UK), with an old willow tree (I think) to sit under if the sun gets a bit hot.

    Worth a wee look anyway.

    1. I’ll add that to my list of places to check out. I’ve got a short list of places right now and will see which one feels the most comfortable to me. As you say, the more comfortable and relaxed I feel in a place, the better!

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