Success at dating? I went to Ibiza and came back with a pen pal.


Back in 1999, me and two single friends went to Ibiza trying to be Zoe Ball, recreating the bottle of Jack Daniels, straw hat and jean shorts vibe hanging out at Manumission, or whatever the cool clubs were at the time.

We were young, we were single and (most importantly) ready to embrace the party spirit. Booze cruises, skimpy bikinis, banana boats, beaches, phat beats, sun, sea and..

very, very little in the way of ‘action’.

I say very little because there was one encounter with a bronzed god – the only evidence of this pissed up and instantly forgotten rendezvous being a receipt from a photographer and an address in San Antonio’s clubbing heartland. As me and my friends went to said location brandishing the ticket, we found a small shop in one of the rabbit warrens of the West End district. Staring back a me was a lovely photo of him and someone who bared an uncanny resemblance to me looking like I’d won the lottery. Thinking back now I bet he was no stranger to the laydeez – he probably gained a dose of syphilis or fathered several children that summer.

Towards the end of our holiday, me and the girls became friendly with three boys from the apartment down the hall. They seemed nice and I found myself talking to one of them more than the other two. But he was even more awkward at the subject of hooking up with someone than I was, so despite some skirting around the subject (and a nice hour sat next to him on a beach while one of my friends went skinny dipping with one of his friends), there wasn’t even a kiss. We did however, swap addresses and I thought no more about it. But, a week or so later, a letter from my holiday friend came through the letterbox telling me all about his life and what he’d been up to since he had returned from the holiday.

My pen pal and I never hooked up, but the experience does spring to mind when people tell me that they are jealous of my new single status. ‘You get the chance to date again’ some have said rather excitedly as though their previous dating horror stories have all been forgotten…

I was open to the idea. Perhaps now as a late 30-something mum I’d be more confident, more willing to make the first move and less prone to falling for the boys who clearly weren’t interested in me.

But, my part of the world is a small place and the pond is not overflowing with suitable fish. And the chances of meeting someone diminish greatly when taking the demands of parenting into consideration. Which is fine, I’m not complaining about this… it just explains my next move..

According to some survey I stumbled upon thanks to the power of Google, seven million people living in the UK are using online dating – so that’s more than 10 per cent of us. Yup, I said ‘us’. Come on, you knew this was where I was going anyway!

Anyway, I dipped in a toe and made a hasty retreat. A few online conversations and all the social awkwardness and self consciousness of the girl with the Ibiza pen pal came flooding back.

For starters, WTAF is Tinder? I can’t work out what it’s aim is – sex? If that’s the case, how is it that I ended up talking about photography? (Of a beach, in case you were thinking anything a bit risque..). Pretty sure I actually managed to repel the men who showed up on my profile – I was fairly bullish about this in the beginning – especially those who went silent at the mention of the boy – as this helped weed out the undesirables. But after a while it became a little soul-destroying.

My next port of call was Bumble, where the women have to message the men. I’m a modern woman, thought I, so why not? Turns out I’m not as IT literate as I like to think as try as I might I could not remove the bit that showed the name of my employer. ONLINE DATING IS FULL OF STALKERS SO I CAN’T TELL THEM WHERE I WORK!! So I closed my account.

At this point I made the noble decision to take myself off the market. Time to ‘focus on myself’, new hobbies (one tap dancing class), writing (a couple of blog posts) and reading (other blog posts).

Curiosity got the better of me however. And I took a browse of Plenty of Fish – free obvs… A host of interesting individuals arrived at my mailbox – men who seem to believe the way to a woman’s heart is confirmation that they use drugs ‘socially’, describe themselves as being ‘back here again’ or ‘losing hope’ and go by names such as ‘Spermy’ (yup!) and ‘Sketchy’. Guys, seriously.

After this first tranche of interest I started to think that perhaps paying for an online dating service might bring me better joy? As the present situation seemed to bring me a sort of ‘buy cheap, buy twice’…

And then, just as I was starting to think I would have to delete my account or actually pay for a dating service, along came a nice guy who has hobbies, interests, a job and does his fair share with his kids (or so he tells me). I gave him my phone number, he texted and after I did the thoroughly modern task of a comprehensive Google and social media search to verify his identity we have agreed to meet up later this week. I am nervous and excited and terrified and trying not to become a crazy person. It’ll be my first, first date in 15 years.

I’ll keep you posted.

This Mum's Life