Love is a joyous thing which makes your heart sing and gives everything a rosy glow. Having experienced it once, is it possible to find it again when you’re no longer a spring chicken?
Did you know that women over 45 have been referred to as The Plankton Generation – that’s women who are barely visible and at the bottom of the food chain for romance – just because they’re over 45! That’s just rude!
I have been on my own for four years and, having gained total closure on that relationship and having enjoyed the freedom and independence of not being coupled up, I am now ready to find someone new. But how?
Living in a Turkish village, my options are limited. Most of the Turkish men here are married and those who are either divorced or widowed are looking for a replacement housekeeper. Then there are the young Turks who see a mature, foreign woman as a means to a better life. There is a sizeable expat community but most men are here with their wives or are gay. Of course, there may be a single male tourist here on holiday who I may just bump into in the supermarket or see sitting in a local restaurant who sparks my interest but the odds are slim.
I might be lucky to meet someone suitable on a flight to or from to the UK, rather than the bawling kid or the woman who thinks she is an expert on Turkey after having been to Marmaris on holiday twice! What are the chances? Minimal.
So, I’m left with online dating. I know it’s very popular and a few friends have found love and are very happy. But it doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe I’ve read too many horror stories about meeting nutters or heard sad tales of women whose confidence has been completely dashed by a string of wastrels.
For research purposes, I decided to experiment and joined an online app for people looking for love in my area of Turkey. Using a false name to protect my identity, submitted a recent photo and filled in the detailed profile information about age, interests, body type and what sort of man I was looking for honestly. I said I wanted a man between 45-60 years of age who, among other things, was well educated, tall, kind, honest, had a good sense of humour and could speak English. Being able to speak English is non-negotiable –it’s just too hard to communicate all the intricacies of a relationship in a language that is not your native tongue.
Within a day I had over 300 replies, the majority of whom were Turkish. Where to start? Trawling through the photos was entertaining as there was a huge array of men from early twenties (some willing to show their bits!) to late seventies who looked about to croak it! However, it is a well-known fact that people often lie about their age on online dating websites in order to appear more attractive, meaning you can never really tell what age someone actually is.
According to Dr Bernie Hogan, a research fellow at Oxford University who produced a report entitled, ‘The Case for an Older Woman’, 45-year-olds have a much harder time finding romance because ‘the male fixation on youth distorts the dating pool’. The typical 42-year-old man will accept a woman up to 15 years younger, but no more than three years older — and the women he enters into online conversation with are almost always at the younger end of the spectrum. The typical woman, by contrast, states she’d like to meet a man a few years older or younger than herself — and these are the men she contacts.
It seems perfectly acceptable for a man to date a younger woman but a woman dating a younger man is labelled as a cougar!! Shouldn’t we be celebrating her appeal? And the fact that she has the stamina and energy to keep up with a younger partner?
I immediately dismissed any who hadn’t got a profile photo. Are they so ugly they are embarrassed to show their faces? Nah! They’re married and don’t want anyone to know they’re looking for extra-marital fun. A photo of a rose, a tattoo or someone’s dog doesn’t really provide a sense of the person behind the photo and I couldn’t be bothered trying to psychoanalyse what the picture represented. I filtered those whose photos appealed and those that fell within my required age group.
It was easy to dismiss a significant proportion of them as they began by saying, ‘Hello Engleesh lady’ or ‘Nice to mit you’ or ‘Selam nasılsın?’ or ‘Coll me’ followed by their phone number. Obviously, their level of English wasn’t up to much and they weren’t interested in getting to know me before having a phone conversation to arrange to meet up. Which left a list of potentials who needed further investigation. I had no intention of replying to any of them until I had read their preferences and find out what they were looking for. Boy, was this enlightening! They had checked boxes to indicate preferred body type, interests and characteristics. Many wanted a woman who liked cooking (proving my theory of wanting a housekeeper rather than a lover or soulmate) and who didn’t drink alcohol or smoke. You wouldn’t believe how many of them indicated that they didn’t want a woman who talked a lot!
I narrowed it down to two possible matches. A Turkish teacher from Ankara, who had a lovely open face and a charming smile. He had lots of photos on his profile so it was easy to glean a snapshot of his interests and how he spent his time. He fulfilled many of my criteria so I replied. We chatted on and off for a couple of weeks and he seemed very keen to come here to see me. However, he didn’t have a car and had such a busy life with sporting commitments at weekends (he was a football referee) that it was impossible for him to get away for several months. I lost interest.
The other potential suitor was a Canadian who had just moved to Turkey and lived in Izmir. Perfect! He was well educated, a doctor, recently retired, the same age as me, very chatty and funny! He said he was short, but there’s always a compromise isn’t there? We chatted for about a week and he asked if he could call me on WhatsApp. I was looking forward to hearing his voice……until he spoke with a Turkish accent! He insisted he was Canadian but had been born in Turkey and moved to Canada when he was two years old. How can he have been through the Canadian education system, lived there for over fifty years and still have a Turkish accent? It didn’t make sense. Despite his protestations, I couldn’t ignore the feeling that something didn’t quite add up. I’m sure he’s a lovely guy but honesty is a real issue for me and I found I couldn’t quite trust anything he said, I stopped replying to his messages. Another one bites the dust!
Am I spoiling my chances of finding someone suitable by being too fussy? I’m not prepared to compromise on things that are important to me. I’d rather be on my own. Many studies suggest that men who become single after years of marriage are quick to find a new mate, while women are more cautious. I think we have to be. While I have been a risk taker in many areas of my life over the years, I am always careful and wary about talking to men I don’t know. There’s a fine line between putting yourself in a vulnerable situation and not being brave enough to meet someone new.
Will I try again? Not sure. It’s good for a giggle but don’t feel I’m likely to find anyone on that particular site. Maybe trying a global site would be better but a long distance relationship doesn’t appeal. Been there, done that. I’m hoping that Mr. Right will materialise when I’m least expecting it. Fingers crossed!