• James Hewlett

Dating After Thirty

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, it’s not that it’s been hard to write, it’s just something that is still very much evolving. I may revisit it down the line and feel very differently than I do at the moment.

Dating is weird. Dating in 2019 is weird. Dating after thirty is weird. Dating while going through a divorce is weird. Combine all of those things, that is my life at the moment. Guess what? It’s weird.

It’s not all a bad weird though. Some of it is actually pretty good. Oh yeah, I should mention right here that if I mention a name, other than mine and my close friends and family who I’ve talked about in previous blog posts, I’ve changed it. Seems like the decent thing to do.

Where to begin talking about my (ongoing) experiences with dating post-thirty, post-divorce!?

A little history maybe.

So until December I had pretty much been in a relationship for the past ten years. I went from a two and a half year one into my relationship with Sara with less than a month in between. We were then together for seven years, married for two and a half.

It had been a long long time since I dated and even then it was totally different. I feel like ‘dating’ in the way we use the term now is something that was lost on my generation in the UK when I was in my teens and early twenties. We’d either meet people in person or on msn, start talking and then be going out. As you got older you’d meet someone while out, usually drunk, hook up and then either being going out or not. There was, at least in my experience, at distinct lack of arranging to meet somewhere, do something while having conversations and getting to know each other before anything else happened.

That was especially the case for me. I started DJing when I was sixteen so from then on everyone I met was through that. I never really had to worry about the normal things people do when they’re trying to meet people they’d like to sleep with. I knew I was nothing special to look at, especially at the time, but I had the instant ice breaker in front of me in the form of a DJ booth. I was often the focus of the attention and I did alright because of that. I’m not saying I was a complete chick magnet or anything, but I definitely did better than I would have without having those CDJ’s and my musical acumen to lean on.

Fast forward to 2019. I haven’t been DJing on anything like a regular basis in four years. I’ve just started exercising and eating a little better and have had my entire world turned upside down.

I think it goes without saying that I was uncertain and not confident in my ability to find something good again with someone I liked.

I felt like I looked like a fat piece of shit, I wasn’t sure my weird personality would translate to anyone who hasn’t known me for years and I had no basis for comparison to know if my recent history and the emotional baggage I was carrying would make every girl I met run for the hills.

So I did what everyone who’s recently single does. I got drunk and I signed up for Tinder.

That decision ended up being brilliant.

A lot of people will say a lot of horrible things about Tinder and its equivalent dating apps (for the record, beyond Tinder I’ve signed up for a bunch and currently have installed on my phone; Bumble, OkCupid and Hinge…. They’re all just as good or bad as one another) and I know I used to just not even understand how people did it. Literally, six months ago I couldn’t have told you which way was the positive swipe.

I installed them, I made profiles and I started swiping without any expectation of getting much response. I was so new to this world and it was vastly different than the last time I was single, when ‘internet dating’ was a thing but definitely not the standard that it has become today.

The main purpose for me doing it was as a confidence booster. It had been so long since I had talked to new people in more than a friendly way I wanted to make sure I still could!

To my surprise I got some attention fairly quickly. Not loads, but some. It felt great, I started chatting a little bit. A few went no where, one seemed really interested and then just vanished only to message me in the middle of the night weeks and weeks later. The whole thing was strange, but quite exciting at the same time.

After a couple of weeks I had a date lined up. A first date, my first date with someone new in pretty damn near ten years. I was nervous, but I’d been chatting to this girl for a week or so and we’d been getting on great so it wasn’t like I had no idea what to expect.

It went well, we went for a drink and chatted, getting to know each other better. I hadn’t mentioned in any of our conversations previously that I was only recently single, I was definitely nervous to bring that up, but while talking about places we’d traveled to I got to a point where I felt like I needed to mention that the trip I was talking about was actually my honeymoon and that I had been married.

Much to my surprise, so had she. It turns out we’re about the same age and with similarly failed marriages, it was weird but also quite comforting at the same time. I felt at ease talking to her about stuff and I could tell she wanted to ask questions but didn’t want to pry. I’m a pretty open book when I’m comfortable and talking, especially if I’ve had a beer so I told her everything she was curious about and it was really nice.

After the date we continued to talk, she was worried it was too soon for me, and while I was too I also didn’t want to squander an opportunity. So we went out again a few times and had a really great time. She was super nice, really sweet and seemed to be into me.

It came to a point though that I got was getting worried about it being too much too soon. She was right with her first instinct, it was too soon for that, so I broke it off. It wasn’t fun, I have nothing bad to say about her and couldn’t fault anything about the time we spent together, but I wasn’t ready for it.

Then came the time that a lot of people on tinder especially get trapped in. The random hook-up phase. I think that’s pretty self explanatory. It’s… different and doesn’t come naturally to me. Most of the time I was drunk. Not sure I could have done it if I wasn’t. I’m talking like it’s in the past. I’m pretty honest on here, there’s no point in me not being so, it’s a phase that is on and off still.

I went on a few dates in between stints of that though. There was one girl I went out with a couple of times only to be cock blocked by cancer. Not hers, her mum. Pretty valid excuse as to not being able to put effort into dating I thought. ‘Cock-blocked By Cancer’ would have been a funny title for this post...

More recently I was seeing another girl for a little while, and again, didn’t have a bad thing to say about her. It was more chilled and slower than the other one, but I also wasn’t feeling it as much. I still wasn’t sure I was ready for what it was becoming.

Since then I’ve been way less active on the apps, I still swipe a bit, but more out of curiosity than actually looking for anything. I’ve been talking to someone I kind of met the old fashioned way recently, a friend of a friend. She’s really cool, we get on great and we’re very comfortable talking to each other about anything and everything. I definitely like her and whatever happens there will happen but she seems like someone I’d like to have as a friend going forward regardless of anything else.

“How’d it go with that girl you like the other night James?”

“It was really good, I told her all about how I got set on fire in a strip club and shit the bed in Texas.”

So that’s a very brief history of my also brief dating experience in 2019 as a divorcee over thirty. There are a few things, observations really, that I feel are worth talking about though.

The first one is the amount of different apps I have had become accustomed to using on a daily basis. To message people I used to pretty much exclusively use iMessage. Everyone I talked to frequently was an iPhone user and it was just convenient. I had a couple of family members who I’d use traditional text messages with still and group chats would tend to be in facebook messenger but that was it. I never had a need to, or saw the point in, WhatsApp. I went from not bothering with it because it was irrelevant to outright avoiding it and it leaving a sour taste in my mouth as it was what my ex-wife used to talk to the person she had an affair with, to coming around to installing it and I’m not ashamed to say, simply to get laid. It’s a fine app, I don’t have a problem with it. But I also still don’t get why people choose to use it over other alternatives.

I also recently, as may be evident by my recent post about it, reinstalled instagram. I’ve been a fairly active twitter from the jump and still enjoy that platform, but you do have to be liberal with the mute and block buttons on there these days which inevitably does create a vacuum chamber of likeminded people.

With instagram I am only following close friends and people I’m really interested in. It has also turned into a pretty robust messaging client. Can you see how this gets confusing yet?

Between twitter, Instagram and a curated selection of subscribed subreddits I barely look at facebook these days and that is an absolutely great thing. I’ve not deleted it as it is still a useful tool for staying connected (and doing self promotion) but I definitely don’t use it very often anymore.

The other big observation is something Ed pointed out the other day. He made a joke and instead of responding with a, “Haha,” or something witty I just sent back a specifically chosen emoji. His response was, “You have a way with emojis.” To which I said that since being single I’ve found I’ve had to up my emoji game and we came to a joint conclusion that in this day and age when a lot of first conversations are via messaging apps you need to know how to use them as they can convey a tone and meaning because you can’t see someones expression or hear their tone of voice.

What a fucking weird time we live in.

I think it’s a fairly common feeling to think you hit your peak in your twenties, I certainly thought that. It’s a transitional period in which you’re a full blown adult, most people are out of all kinds of education, you should be moving out on your own if you haven’t already, and you generally start settling into serious relationships. Not all of those things will be accurate for everyone, but I bet at least one or two are the case for you, especially if you’re of a similar generation to me… an ’87 born millennial.

Now though I say fuck that. I absolutely did not hit my peak in my twenties. Right now I’m thirty two, in the best physical shape of my life and only getting better and I’m in a really good place mentally and emotionally with a self-awareness of my situation and potential shortcomings. I have not peaked yet. I’m still on the upward climb. If my life was a rollercoaster my twenties would have been the initial excitement where you think it’s as good as it is going to get only for a massive drop that you’d be fair to assume the ride was over afterward, but right now I’m hearing the clack clack clack as I’m approaching the summit again. I’m not there yet, there’s still a while to go before I hit the ceiling, but I’m really fucking excited about what’s to come!

#dating #datenight #social #friendly #friends #divorce #sex #appearance #personal #history #me #mentalhealth #health #bodyimage #feelingold #instagram #awkward


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