Different shades of grey


I’ve become obsessed by a column in The Guardian: “Mid-life ex-wife.”

It’s about a woman called Stella who’s 50 and back on the dating scene.

It’s also quite confronting, close to the bone, a bit depressing … and irresistible reading.

Stella hasn’t had much luck in the past six months. She paints a very bleak picture of the rules of attraction when you’re a middle-aged woman.

“It’s true that men don’t see me any more,” Stella notes. “It’s sobering to walk down the street observing how the 50-year-old men behave, paying attention to what they’re looking at as they stroll along. They are not looking in shop windows. They are not looking at me. They are looking at women half their age.”

Even a male friend she thought she could count on to fancy the “older, more interesting woman, the passionate, well-read, intrepid, low-maintenance woman” confesses he’d choose the “firm arse and tits, always, without question.”

He insists she must stare at 25-year-old men too, but Stella reckons “it’d be like randily pursuing the children of your friends.”

I’m with Stella – completely disinterested in toyboys. 50-year-old men are waaaaaay more my speed. Much as it freaks me out to write those words, since I still feel like I’m 35 on the inside …

“It’s the 55-year-old, slightly rumpled silver foxes that I stare at, the tall well-travelled well-used ones,” Stella says. “But they don’t see me.”

Generally speaking, women aren’t ageist about looks. They think Harrison Ford is still hot at 72. I’m not sure men feel the same way about Judi Dench.

I ached for Stella when she revealed she’d been told via dating site message (like it was a compliment): “I bet you were gorgeous when you were young.”

She notes: “Yes, I was gorgeous, ish, for a while, and self-absorbed, and shallow, and inexperienced, and over-sensitive and dull. You’re right, mate, you’d have much preferred me then.”

All those daft, middle-aged men deserve to be tortured by young, vapid, high-maintenance women who’ll badger them for babies when they’re old enough to be grandfathers.

Stella talks about meeting a man after he’d only seen a strategic head-and-shoulders photo of her on-line: “His face fell when he saw me coming towards him in the bar. He spent most of our date acting out a desperate need to listen closely to the live band, and more or less shushing me when I spoke. At the end, out on the pavement, he said: ‘I don’t think so, do you?’ and strode away, smiling.”


She recalls one bloke demanding a full-length photograph of her: “Often the women here prove to have fat ankles,” he said.

Dear god in heaven, what has the world come to?

It’s given me terrible flashbacks to my mercifully brief on-line dating experience.

RSVP and I didn’t get along, as I noted in a blog last year called RSVP, We Need To Talk.

I was giggling with a fellow single mum the other day about how every man on the site seemed to be an engineer (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I know some lovely engineers, but wow there are a lot of them on dating sites) with a passion for sailing and cycling, but absolutely no sense of humour.

I knew from reading their profiles that we wouldn’t hit it off. But it wasn’t because of their fat ankles.

DD tells me I’m really lucky I only had one RSVP. I tell him he’s lucky I only had one RSVP date too.

I hope Stella meets someone soon. She seems really nice.

Those old fools only interested in dating 30-year-olds with taut tummies and thin ankles are totally missing out.

Got a horror dating story to tell? 

Song of the day: Pete Murray “Without You” (my happy place)




7 thoughts on “Different shades of grey

Add yours

  1. I was invisible in my 20s. Age has been a leveler for me. But I dont think I could handle the dating scene again. This cougar is all miaow and no bite 😉

    1. I was VERY shy in my 20s, so I kinda agree with you about the invisibility thing. I don’t really know what it’s like to be VISIBLE. Even as a magazine editor I somehow kept a low profile.

  2. I haven’t been on a date since before I got married and my marriage ended five years ago. So I don’t have a dating horror story to tell, but I’m sure if I actually attempted to put myself out there, I would definitely see some of that horror! I feel for Stella. I’m going to start reading her column. As for me, I’ll keep you posted.

  3. I feel sorry for Stella, too. But it’s true that sometimes people have a different generational view despite being relatively close in age. And how bloody rude to tell a woman that she “must have been a stunner in her early years”…that guy deserved a slap in the face!

    I have dated women my age that I felt could have been my mother’s generation. Then there are the women who are my age that try to look or behave as if they are 10 or 15 years younger. Having a youthful outlook on life is a good thing but within limits.

    Mind you, I know some blokes who can behave inappropriately and not act their age! Men, trying to be boys…not a good look, either.

    Yes, there have been a couple of horror dates. However, courtesy kicks in and a polite goodbye generally finalises proceedings. I must say that, for me, RSVP has been a relatively good experience, although I remain happily single…

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