As a divorcee in my 50s, I started online dating. This is what I learnt

25

The sleaze

I broke a primary rule and agreed to meet date number two at night. The self-involved artist in mismatched socks went for a slobbery kiss after an hour of chit chat in a city bar. I fled to the toilet and rang a girlfriend. We decided I’d give him a chance to redeem himself.

I explained I am not a fan of public displays of affection and that I was uncomfortable with what had just transpired. He placed his hand on my leg and continued to rave about himself before suggesting we go back to his apartment nearby. I said no. As we exited, he pinned me against the stairwell wall and slobbered again. It was a brisk ‘goodnight’ from me.

The bore

For three long hours we nursed a coffee in Lygon Street. It was getting late and date number three was showing no sign of ending his stream of consciousness. He raved about his job. He raved about his family. He had few hobbies and had dreadful taste in shoes. I was bored beyond words. Once again, I had matched with a bloke that barely asked me a question.

After I had to ask to be walked to my car, he stopped to say goodnight, inquired if I liked barbecues and stated that he doesn’t want to marry ever again. Did he actually think he was a catch? The next day I texted that I wasn’t feeling it. He responded by asking if it was his hairstyle I didn’t like.

Loading

The romantic cheater

Date number four was thoughtful, generous, inquisitive and intelligent. There were loads of laughs, he bought me gifts and he was easy company. He was a decent kisser. I went on a two-week overseas holiday and following a stream of wickedly fun written exchanges during my sojourn, I returned anticipating a lovely catch-up.

While still at the airport, he advised me via text that he had been seeing other women and chosen another to “get serious with”. I felt hurt and duped. He advised me that it was commonplace, or rather expected, that when online dating, you have several people on the go. Who knew! He was back on the app about five weeks later.

The chatterbox

Once again I found myself in a cool bar at night being spoken to. This time it was a decent looking bloke with a tremendously sexy sleeve tattoo. It took two beers and a couple of hours to deduce we had zero chemistry.

The scammer(s)

Scammers are rife. If I was asked to communicate via WhatsApp, that was a red flag. If I was asked about my finances, that was a red flag. If I was asked if I was lonely, that was a red flag. And if the photo was of an intensely attractive man, that too was a red flag. (I knew in my gut that George was too cute to be true.)

The most fun was an afternoon spent ‘message-flirting’ with a scammer who had used a photo of actor/author David Walliams as his profile pic. There were belly laughs as he relayed he’d taken the photo at the local bakery down the road in South Africa.

Lessons learnt

Loading

Follow your intuition. Don’t settle. Ask an inordinate number of questions. Don’t share your mobile too soon. Meet sooner rather than later – you’ll save a lot of time and energy. Value yourself. Be kind. Be honest. Meet in a public place. Enjoy the process. Know what you want. Don’t take it too seriously.

I also learnt not to judge someone purely on their profile photos since my current beau of more than a year used horrendously unflattering photos on his dating profile. From our first daytime date at an unassuming suburban cafe, we have held hands, listened to each other, laughed raucously and shared dreams. The most significant lesson: don’t give up.

I never thought I’d resort to dating apps, let alone succeed in finding a caring partner by swiping right. I am now at peace with the process, and an enthusiastic ambassador for jumping on line in the quest for love.

Donna Demaio is a journalist and broadcaster.

Get a little more outta life

Start your week with practical tips and expert advice to help you make the most of your personal health, relationships, fitness and nutrition. Sign up to our Live Well newsletter sent every Monday.