One of the tougher aspects of coming out in later life is realising that many of the dating rules as you knew them no longer apply. You can no longer lollop around in a bonnet waiting for a man to ask you out or make all the moves. You can’t rely on a man to pick the first date, pay the bill or do that gorgeous, end of night lean that makes your legs wibble.
You simply don’t have that luxury anymore. Suddenly, you’ve been thrust into an equal playing field where the onus is on you to woo the women you fancy. To chat up, ask out, initiate snogs and rip off bonnets with a gusto that feels, to me at least, completely alien. You have to put yourself out there, to risk all the blood-curdling knockbacks and still heave to your feet, sweaty and panting and full of swagger.
My friends tell me that all great romances start on Tinder so I buckle up and get online. Juliet, Juliet wherefore art thou Juliet? Oh yes there you are, someone’s free pouring beer into your mouth with a keg. I get on Tinder because it’s infinitely less terrifying than having to talk to women face to face, blushing and babbling like a teenage boy. I choose photos of me in an Italian vineyard, or thumbs up at the top of a mountain because – look! I’m cool! I go on holiday!
Scrolling through the lacklustre profiles of poseurs and hipsters I wonder glumly if all the nice, pretty girls have already been snapped up: selfie, selfie, boob shot, selfie, boob shot, selfie, man, threesome. Everyone loves ‘gin’ and ‘avocado’ and ‘so happy living my life!! 🙂 🙂 Good vibes only!!’ as if anyone goes on a dating website hoping to meet a miserable old git. Then I wonder if I’m the miserable old git.
I get the odd match and send perky messages: “Hey! That beach shot is incredible, where was it taken?” or “Love the stripy top and red lipstick combo, you’ve got Parisian chic nailed!”
It’s like walking up to 100 strangers in the street and having every single one look you up and down and say: “No.” “No.” “No.” “Hell no, seriously babes, what were you thinking?”
I slug white wine with my friends and moan about where all the beautiful gay girls are.
“I live in one of the most crowded, polluted cities in the world. I spend two hours of every day on the tube nestled in someone’s armpit, fantasizing about living in a Mongolian yurt with a donkey. The whole point of living in this blistering hellhole of seven million people is that surely, one day, someone will agree to snog you.”
And out of the blue, someone does.