Dating is never easy. But what about when you are a twice-married, twice-divorced mom of one and grandparent of two? Let me explain: last week my 67-year-old mom came to visit from Ireland. While she was here, my cousin and his wife came over for dinner and she decided to sign my mom up for Tinder. Before I knew what was happening, my mom was swiping like her life depended on it. There were a lot of bald men. A lot of golfing outfits. A lot of men named Mike. We were all laughing and swiping far more left than right, and then suddenly there was a match!
In one sobering moment, I suddenly realized that I wasn’t flicking through pictures of men with my girlfriends, but in fact my mother. I froze. She froze. “What do I do now?” she asked, perplexed. My cousin’s wife explained that the man she had “liked” had “liked” her, so now they could send messages. My mom paled. “What do I write?”
She didn’t have to worry, as the man quickly wrote to her and asked her out for coffee. Knowing that she would be leaving London and flying home in a matter of days, she quickly responded and a date was set. My 67-year-old mom, within 10 minutes, had a date on Tinder. Should I be impressed or appalled?
I have of course dealt with my mom dating in the past. She left my father while she was pregnant with me, and they divorced when I was 3. They rekindled their relationship several times on and off during my childhood until she met someone when I was 10. I remember being incredibly anxious when she and my dad finally broke up for good. This meant I could potentially have another man trying to take my dad’s place. I worried that my mom would meet someone, and we’d be forced to move and live with a stranger and his kids. When I saw her getting dressed up and putting on heels, a cloud of perfume enveloping her as she strode out the door to go on a date, I would lie awake, fretting that she would never come home. I was only 8 and my mom was my whole world. I remember a guy named Don who had a fancy car and an even fancier mustache. Another named David who was smug and pawed all over my mother, barely acknowledging me.
Thankfully she met a wonderful man who we moved in with when I was 11. But sadly that relationship ended, and she once again began the dating merry-go-round. I yearned to escape to college, finding the whole situation of having to meet and have dinner with her latest squeeze a chore. Not only that, it made me feel oddly stressed. Would I have another father figure in my life who would vanish shortly afterwards? The whole idea of getting to know a step-father figure, to begin to care about him and involve him in my life, only to have them break up, just filled me with dread.
But that was then. I’m not that kid anymore. I have my own life, my own family. So the whole idea of my mom dating no longer bothers me because it doesn’t impact my life in the same way it did when I was younger. Now, my worry is that she won’t meet someone! My mom looks great for her age, is incredibly active, and has a zest for life. Why shouldn’t she have someone to share everything with? And the thing I most admire in her is that if the relationship isn’t right, she won’t stay just because she fears being alone. She refuses to compromise. She is a self-sufficient woman.
So … Tinder? Is this really the way she’ll meet a nice guy? I’ve heard of friends using it, but most had one-night-stands and it all seemed incredibly superficial since it’s based solely on photographs.
“You can’t tell if you have chemistry with a person from a photo!” I advised, like some sage old woman.
But then again, this whole online dating scene is new to me. In my day (I do sound ancient!) none of it existed. I met my husband in 2001, and he didn’t even have a mobile phone! It was the days of actually meeting someone IRL — at a bar, the gym, the supermarket, a party — and chatting with them, establishing a rapport, and giving them your number. Oh, how things have changed. Now you’re expected to make a match based on a well-filtered photograph and a couple of lines of commentary underneath it.
It seems to be working, though. In the UK, 3.5 million people have met their partners online and a recent survey has shown that the over-60s crowd is online dating now more than ever before. So, instead of feeling anxious and nervous about a new man entering her life, I’m thrilled. I only wish she lived nearer so we could swipe every evening together. (It is insanely addictive.) Obviously I don’t want to hear any nitty gritty stories about her potential sex life, but I love hearing the details of how the date went, what she wore, whether she’ll see him again, etc… I love it! I am living vicariously through my mom.
Oh, and her coffee date? It went well. Next time she comes to visit, they plan on meeting up again. Fingers crossed!