Feeling unpretty. And old.

Saturday, April 28, 2018 Permalink

I read a post yesterday by Alana of House Goes Home, written after she’d seen the new Amy Schumer movie I Feel Pretty.

Most of it resonated as Alana talks about worrying less about her looks now she’s older and feeling more confident in general and I would have probably said the same thing a year ago.

However… fairly recently I joined a couple of online dating sites. It’s something I did a dozen years ago, tinkering off and on for a few years before giving up. I’ve always hoped it’d come organically – I’d meet someone. We’d fall in love. Etcetera.

I’ve talked before about giving up on that notion. Slowly but surely my single friends dropped off until – in my mid 30s – there was a core group of us hitting the pubs on a weekend hoping to meet THE ONE. Or… someone who might become THE ONE.

We then turned to online dating and speed dating and the like. So, I’ve been there and done that. And still didn’t get the t-shirt.

Increasingly over the past year or so I’ve again contemplated the idea of a relationship. It’s something I thought I was doomed to live without. And finally – in the absence of meeting someone naturally (via everyday life, with a bit of extra effort… like leaving the house on occasions) – I joined a couple of online dating sites.

I’m 50. But a young 50 (cos HELLO?! immature as all hell, plus no kids!). So as I scroll through pictures of those 8yrs either side of my age I’m struck by how friggin old they all look. And most of those locally – ugh! SO MANY TATTOOS. SO MUCH FACIAL HAIR. SO MANY MOTORBIKES. AND CARS. Not to mention bad selfies. I seriously can’t believe some people put those things up in a public forum without at least some filtering. (And if they’ve already done so, then… faarck!)

Why do most of the men my age look so old?

At least to me – though I’m possibly in denial about how old I actually am. (30ish surely?)

So, obviously I’ve decided I’m far too good for most of the men around. I ponder my criteria…. is it too much to expect them to be taller than me? Well educated (or if not, articulate at least)? Be gainfully employed?

Simultaneously however, as I look with scorn at those faces flicking across the screen before me, I’m not quite brave enough to contact those I do find (even vaguely) attractive. After all, who the hell do I think I am; suggesting they should be interested in me?! And prone to overthinking as I am, I start to wonder if I’m punching above my weight?

Two things come to mind as I contemplate this.

Firstly, being out with a long-term bestie for a St Patrick’s Day thing at a big Brissy pub in the early 2000s. I was perving at some guy and my friend commented that he was probably too good looking. Perhaps not someone who’d give us the time of day. Despite my years of self-hatred (and disordered eating) I was kinda shocked.

And then perhaps 6-7 years later, bemoaning to my bestie about men in general. I was depressed that the sort of men I was interested in, would never be interested in me. I recall talking about my weight. She was also shockingly blunt and basically told me my options involved: doing something about my weight; or lowering my standards. (Tough love perhaps?)

I don’t know why I’ve always been single. I know I blame my weight (and how I’ve felt about it) but I’ve not always been overweight. It’s not like I’ve got terrible tales of rejection. I’ve actually never been ‘in love’. I’ve never been vaguely close.

It’s not like I haven’t wanted a relationship. And intimacy. I’m usually bitterly envious of those in seemingly happy relationships. Those who have someone to share their ups and downs. I was reminded of this when I read Lisa Ireland’s The Art of Friendship recently. I referenced a quote about being ‘the most important thing’ to someone. Usually when I comment on my lack of that kind of connection, my close friends will remind me how much they care. But it’s different.

feeling unpretty

So has my problem only been that I’m too fussy? Too unattractive to actually attract the men that interest me?

I’m fairly sure I caught the attention of a man recently. It’s so rare I assumed I was mistaken. And nothing happened cos there was a whole ships in the night scenario, but he will forever be known as THE MAN ON THE PLANE.

My confidence peaked. A bit. For the first time in a decade or two.

And then came crashing down to earth. Thanks to the online dating thing where EVERYONE LOOKS SO FRIGGIN’ OLD! And two recently comments about me being a grandmother. I mean… I know I could be a grandmother, but I don’t feel like I could be. I mean, I don’t want to look like I could be. Perhaps I’m in denial re the ageing thing. And that’s probably a whole other blog post.

Needless to say it scuttled my confidence. I’m wondering if men are looking at my online picture and thinking I look old. Too old. And of course SOOOO much of the online dating this is about first impressions and looks. (Take my swiping and grimacing for example!)

Fuck. I’m in a quandary. Again. And it’s depressing me. I want to just shut down the accounts and not think about it any more. But will I regret it? Those who haven’t been single for long periods of time tell me to relish the time to myself. But I think 50 years is probably a little excessive.

No. I’m being practical. Reasonable. So I’m thinking plastic surgery.

Any ideas? Any online dating, or dating stories? Any single male friends (aged 45-55, over 178cm, non-smoker, witty, educated, financially secure who appreciates domestically-challenged and slightly sarcastic overweight middle aged women)? #notaskingforafriend  

** And though I love flattery and your (understandable) adoration (!!!), please don’t feel the need to tell me:

  1. I’m worthy
  2. I have time
  3. Someone will come along when I least expect it
  4. I don’t need a man to complete me.

Which probably covers all bases other than therapy. (Have THAT t-shirt!)

The Lovin’ Life team includes:

50 Shades of Age | Seize the Day Project | And Anyways | Write of the Middle | Deep Fried Fruit.

31 Comments
  • Vanessa
    April 28, 2018

    I remember getting told by “friends” in high school I needed to do x or y (usually things like give a shit about how I look or be less fat) to get a guy. I told them too bloody bad, I’m not interested in that shit. I guess I lucked out regardless? I don’t know. I’m glad I thought they were full of shit though.

    • Debbish
      April 29, 2018

      If I have any regrets on the relationship front Vanessa it’s that I didn’t pursue things more when I was younger as that’s when the opportunity arose but I had other stuff going on in my head and just wasn’t interested (ready) at the time.

  • Kate W
    April 28, 2018

    A close friend has gone through a similar thing and I advised her (with regards to online dating) “Just do it.” Put yourself out there and go on a date (or say yes to one if asked). Sure, he might not be what you’re looking for on paper but a process of elimination is better than sitting at home, right? I think going on a date (with a tattooed-motor-bike-riding guy) with very, very low expectations is okay – he might just under-promise and over-deliver!

    • @kanga_rue
      April 28, 2018

      What Kate said!

    • Debbish
      April 29, 2018

      Interestingly Kate, as I read your comment I had to wonder if a bad date WAS worse than sitting home alone. I guess it’s the whole process thing that I find difficult. If I was meeting these people in person and had something about them that I found interesting I think it’d be easier to take a chance but online there’s often little to recommend someone – unless their pic or blurb grabs you. And if I have to think… “Well, he’s the least revolting,” I worry that I’m really starting to settle.

      And I’ve always thought ‘settling’ for something was worse than being alone. Though sometimes I do ponder on that a little. *sigh*

  • @kanga_rue
    April 28, 2018

    Start talking to the ok ones. Think of it as practice, then go on some dates. You might be surprised and you’ll get your nerves out before a good one come along. And maybe not be so picky. Selective is good, but keep it to the qualities that really matter. Teeth, a licence, car, and job definitely count!

    • Kate W
      April 28, 2018

      Yes, in the words of The Millionaire Matchmaker (is that show still on?!) “You can only have ONE deal-breaker.” Want someone of a certain height? Fine, but then accept whatever else comes with that. Want a non-smoker? Fine etc etc

    • Debbish
      April 29, 2018

      I have on occasion looked beyond the appalling grammar and lack of punctuation if they sound interesting or have a nice pic…. but I guess I get to the point I wonder what I compromise on.

      I remember an old friend of mine saying she was happy to date / marry someone (dumb / boring) cos she got her intellectual stimulation from her friends. That depressed the hell out of me. In fairness she was nearly 40 and didn’t actually end up doing that. But still…

  • julia
    April 28, 2018

    I’ve read your thoughts in the context of the recent Toronto attack, and the “incel” thing that has sprung up mainly made up of white men who feel enraged that they can’t find women who want to have sex with them. You’re philosophical about your position, and I think that’s the difference between women and men. Women tend to self reflect but never say the door is closed. Some men blame everyone but themselves, and even blame women for their misogyny, never once considering that maybe it’s their view on women that makes them unattractive to the opposite sex. Only white, entitled men would make “involuntarily celibacy”, which basically means, single, no sex (currently), an attack against the people’s they most want attention from. Women on the whole don’t do that. We don’t want to wreak havoc because we can’t get sex. We’re not like that. You’re not like that. Thank god.

    • Debbish
      April 29, 2018

      I know! An Australian writer (Kerri Sackville) wrote a piece about the Toronto attack and ‘incel’ for an Australian newspaper site and I commented on FB (via my Debbish page, not personal page) on my own experiences of that and it’s so true…. We internalise stuff SOOOO much more. (Though perhaps most sane people don’t blame others….) x

  • writeofthemiddle
    April 29, 2018

    My sister is 43 and still single, so I know the ups and downs as I live through them with her. She gets depressed too Deb. It’s not easy! She’s done the online thing off and on. Most of them that she’s met are weird in some way! They either just want sex – from multiple females mind you (playing the field), have no plans for any commitment, are still hung up on an ex, or still go on and on about an ex who has wronged them, and the list goes on. The majority never get past the first date. Some go on for another or maybe three or four. At the moment things are looking good. She’s been seeing a guy and has had several dates. He likes her. She likes him. Fingers crossed. Don’t give up hope Deb. xo

    • Debbish
      April 29, 2018

      I hope it works out for her Min! I know some friends who’ve met their partners online and it’s worked out well.

  • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
    April 29, 2018

    Having gone through periods of being single myself, I hear you. Online dating is hard but I look at it as an opportunity to meet someone without any expectations. If something happens, great. If not, oh well. I recommend reaching out to the okay looking ones and the attractive ones and seeing where it goes. Try not keeping it online too long and make sure the face-to-face happens.

    I will admit I have had months/days/years when I have wondered what’s wrong with me. I think it’s human to want connection and unfortunately, we tend to internalise and be self-critical. Don’t lower your standards too much though. Start by testing the waters… Happy to chat more through messages on FB

    • Debbish
      April 29, 2018

      Thanks Sanch. I think the thing I’m struggling with is knowing if I’m being too fussy, given my own limitations. (Perhaps that’s always been the case and I’ll continue to be single. I go through phases where I’m resolved about that. I was for most of my 40s for example. I haven’t even thought a relationship was possible since I’ve moved in the last 5-6yrs. Before that I’d get my hopes up and fits and starts.)

      I laugh when friends complain about being single for 6mths, or a year or so. Though I know friends who have been married / in relationships seem to find it easier to get into new ones. I used to think it was because of some openness to intimacy and dependency on their part but perhaps they’re just more palatable to the opposite sex!!! (ie. It’s me, not them. #allofthemenintheworld) 🙂 xx

  • Be Kind 2 YouNatalie @ Be Kind 2 You
    April 29, 2018

    I have a friend going through the same thing at the moment. Sometimes it is easier to weed out what you don’t want to find the exact thing you do want. She opened up to dating people she never thought she would like – and most of them she absolutely didn’t like. she realised it had been many years since she had dated and because she has changed so much, she wanted to know if others had changed with her.

    • Debbish
      April 30, 2018

      That tends to be my problem re life-in-general Natalie… I’m much better at knowing what I DON’T want, than what I DO want! 🙂

  • Jo
    April 29, 2018

    Ohh it must be so hard, and I sympathise. I think having a partner to walk through life with especially as we get older, is something to be treasured, so don’t give up just yet. I can remember my parents telling me not to settle down too young, but I do see the merit in finding ‘the one’ when you are really young because in general I think at an early age we are not so choosy (and possibly more led by lust than good judgement!). If I had to pick a mate now, I’d be soooo pernickity that it would be much harder I think to find anyone. But you seem to be on to it in a good way … Good luck, believe in yourself, and understand in what areas where you’re prepared to compromise xx

    • Debbish
      April 30, 2018

      I think it is harder as you get older unless you’re happy to settle for whatever comes along (my mother’s neighbour seems to go only days between relationships for example – though most usually end with police intervention!!!!). I’ve also basically lived alone since 1991 so not sure how I’d go with someone around all of the time – if it came to that.

  • Denyse
    April 29, 2018

    Deb, it makes me sad to read your post but I also know from what I read you write that you appear (to me) to be ready to dip your toes into the water of on-line dating and then you step back. Blaming whatever it is you want to find will keep you stuck. Friends above have suggested giving some people a go. It would be the start. Nothing like putting the toes in and staying in just paddling till you might be ready to swim! Sending love Denyse x

    • Debbish
      April 30, 2018

      I think if I was in a larger city Denyse I might think about a singles event or something but it’s not something that’s an option locally.

  • Natalie
    April 29, 2018

    Being selective in looking for and finding a partner is wise. I wouldn’t waste my time nor lower my expectations in this process. There are married couples who are very unhappy. Divorces are common. I think it’s important to feel comfortable living alone and to lead a fulfilling life with or without a partner. Even for people who have a partner or a spouse, one person is likely going to die before the other. Women tend to live longer than men, too. If online dating is making you feel depressed, perhaps take a break from it, and look for activities that are of interest to you, or ways to make meet new people IRL.

  • Lisa Ireland
    April 30, 2018

    I’ve spent years dealing with the body image thing and now I’m dealing with the ‘old and wrinkled’ thing. I try hard not to allow the negative self talk, but I think it’s just part of who I am! So I can relate to the ‘unpretty’ feeling. And I know that’s not really what this post is about, but I’m going to say it anyway: you are a very attractive woman! Seriously, I don’t think you realise how lovely you truly are! And you’re articulate, funny and intelligent to boot. Any bloke would be lucky to have you. I think it’s important to be selective, because it’s so much worse to be with someone who isn’t right for you than to be on your own. (Yeah, I know, easy for me to say, but I have been in shit relationships and they were never worth it.)

    Having said that I reckon sometimes it’s worth giving the ‘unlikely’ ones a try. My bloke was a rough diamond – a sheep in wolf’s clothing! On paper he’s far from my perfect match, but we just work somehow.

    One of my closest friends (single in her mid forties) was pushed by her psychologist to go on a certain amount of dates – to give love a chance. She accepted the first few blokes who approached her via the online dating site she used. One of them – the least likely contender IMO at the time – ended up being her soul mate. They’ve been together for about seven years now.

    • Debbish
      May 3, 2018

      There are so many happy stories from online dating and ‘finding love later in life’ that it is heartening.

      I realise the crux of this for me is that I’m probably too fussy and whether that’s some weird defense mechanism to avoid relationships or what…. I don’t know. I know it was an issue during my anorexic years when young but I’ve come a long way since then!

      I appreciate personalities far more than I once did and suspect if I got the chance to meet some fabulously smart and witty man I’d be smitten, but it’s meeting people that’s the problem. (And getting through my initial filters!)

  • Sue
    May 2, 2018

    I don’t recommend marrying when young(er) but not being discerning enough!! I met my now husband online at the age of 48, when I was much clearer about what I did and didn’t want in a man. There are good, intelligent, funny, interesting, challenging, gentle, kind, committed (for life) men out there in online dating land. I agree with everyone who says don’t be too put off by profile pics though (or height – I dated a 6’3″ man and thought “ooh yes, tall is lovely” but he was a dud, my hubby is only 5’9″ and he’s a keeper – and I don’t have to dislocate my neck to kiss him……….). Read profiles carefully and read between the lines, then get chatting (but briefly)!! Don’t compromise your values, but don’t give up Deb xx

    • Debbish
      May 3, 2018

      Ah yes, reading between the lines is a biggie. I realise I’m more cynical than most though so tend to go in with a less-open mind than I should. I’m paranoid about the ‘being honest’ thing so made sure I’ve included only new pics, including a full body outfit pic (best they know what they’re getting up front!) and only one from my fancy photo-shoot. Having said that I can’t believe how many men use HORRIBLE photographs. I chuckle at some, wondering if they’re making a weird face on purpose?!

      I think the tall thing is only an issue cos I’m 178cm (5ft 10+inches) and not petite so taller than me would be ideal.

  • Kate
    May 3, 2018

    Deb, im not sure we have as much choice as we think we do in how our life pans out.
    We make the best decision at the time based on our life circumstances.
    I’m sure you did catch the attention of the man on the plane. A big part of your attractiveness to men (men worth your time) would be your bright, discerning eyes, your hard won independence and your intelligent words that reflect a soul and spirit that doesn’t compromise or settle.

    • Debbish
      May 4, 2018

      Oh that’s a lovely thing to say Kate. I like to think I’m not completely repellent physically but it’s rare (nowadays) that I seem to catch anyone’s attention, which is why this surprised me so much. (I did look out my window in case he was actually turning to keep looking at something outside and not me!)

  • Jodie
    May 3, 2018

    Gosh, I remember feeling this way so many times before my first marriage and then after my divorce.
    I feel like it’s finding a good employee—it’s not you, it’s a crap shoot. And there are so many frogs out there, it’s just if and when you get lucky to find the right one.
    But if you really want it, I think it’s worth the continued search. Albeit far from me to know what’s good for you!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com
    PS…One of my secrets when I was dating after my divorce was to date more than one….and I told them this usually on the second date. Because there are so many you need to get through that you don’t have time to date one by one…..At least that worked for me.

    • Debbish
      May 4, 2018

      Jodie I think using online sites kinda facilitates the ‘more than one at once’ thing. I know most people now want to minimise the online chat and meet to see if there’s any chemistry. One of my friends had three separate dates in a week last week.

  • Michelle W (@pinkypoinker)
    May 4, 2018

    Everyone looks old to me… then I see a photo of myself. Online dating is okay but it’s all about compatibility not appearances I think. Look for someone you think you could respect and be friends with. We all get old and ugly in the end so you need to find someone you like deep inside. But then again, ignore me, I’m an idiot.

    • Debbish
      May 5, 2018

      No, you’re completely right re the online thing Michelle and that’s why I find myself flicking past so many people who might have other attributes that would attract me. If I’m unsure I’ll read their profile to see their height and lifestyle stuff and then check what they have to say, but otherwise I flick past. And sometimes it could be a bad pic – whereas in person there could easily be something I’d find attractive – a twinkle in their eye / their smile for example. (For example, the guy on the plane, I mention in the post was SO definitely not my usual type but had an intensity that I found really attractive!)

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