Christine Webber on Starting Again
Being dumped, as everyone on this website knows, is just about the worst pain in the world. And it takes ages to get over it. In my new novel, more of which later, my leading character, Annie, wakes up one morning – a year after having been rejected in favour of a younger model – and suddenly realises that she is ready to enjoy being single.
As you may have found, recovering from rejection can easily take a year. And there are no magic wands as you’ve doubtless discovered.
But take heart, no matter how long you’ve been out of a relationship or how old you are, more and more people of all ages are finding love again. The oldest couple I heard of were both over 90 – so there’s hope for us all!
However, it’s tough plucking up courage to get back out there and start dating. So be kind to yourself while you’re doing it. And try to keep laughing. Because, trust me, some of the things that happen to you will be hilarious!
Good things to remember
1. Don’t automatically go for someone who reminds you of a previous partner. Maybe your ‘type’ is not necessarily a good option for you. Don’t be afraid to experiment – especially if you’re older and are no longer looking for someone to make babies with.
2. I expect you’re looking for fun and company. And that’s what most other people are hoping for too. So the first thing you should offer anyone is a warm smile. Avoid boring and moaning people, and seek out individuals who laugh a lot and are good to have around
3. Whatever your age, the chances are that you’re anxious about dating again and about getting naked with someone new. My best advice to women is that you should stop worrying about stretch marks and cellulite. Most men don’t even know what these things are.
As for men, if you’re nervous about keeping your erection, or about how good a lover you are, or even about the fact that you have less hair now than when you last dated someone, then take your new partner into your confidence. Explain that you’re shy. This can often break the ice.
4. And in the bedroom, don’t feel you have to aim for an Olympian performance. Take your time. Talk. Explore. Be focussed on feeling good, and on giving pleasure to your partner, rather than worrying about whether or not you’re going to have an orgasm. And if either of you runs out of steam during sex, take a break. Have a glass of wine, or a coffee and some fruit cake. You’re supposed to be having fun. So don’t let the whole thing become a chore or a competition!
The biggest thing of all to remember is that you should be true to yourself. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take advice from friends or family. Or that you should stay home every night eating chocolate.
After all, it’s only in coffee commercials that the partner of your dreams moves into the next flat and comes knocking at your door! Most of us have to put a lot more effort into finding love than that. So do try different ways of meeting someone new – and be bold and inventive – but also take on board that what might have worked for your sister or your friend, isn’t necessarily going to be your cup of tea.
Vast numbers of singles nowadays find love online. But you may not. In fact, you may not even like that way of doing things.
Other people find love again at work. Yet others find it more natural to join clubs or go to evening classes where they may be attracted to someone who shares a particular interest of theirs.
I suggest you have a go at all of those things. But having tried them, if some really don’t work for you, then rule them out. You have to do it your way.
Who’d Have Thought It?
Some of you may know that I have written a lot of self-help books – including one that has been quite popular on this site – How To Mend a Broken Heart.
However, for a change, I’ve now written a novel called Who’d Have Thought It? It’s about a 55-year old GP who has been dumped by her husband of 30 years. Gradually she realises that being single again could be fun, but she also realises, very quickly, that being single again in your 50s is a very different experience from being single when you’re young.
Her story traces her attempts at rebuilding her life as she juggles with adult children doing unwise things with unwise people, a father with dementia, a full-time job and a very serious illness in a good friend. In other words, it’s about the sort of turbulent mid-life that many people have these days.
I’ll leave you with an extract from it in which Annie, has been persuaded by her best friend Janey to try internet dating. She is to meet 50 year old Roger, at Charing Cross station at the end of Platform Six.
She was there far too early and, not wanting to look over-eager – which she was not – or sad – which she hoped she was not – she went for a wander round Boots the Chemist. Eventually, she bought an electric toothbrush and toothpaste – mostly because she was standing in the dental area when the security man walked past her for the sixth time, eyeing her suspiciously.
The plastic carrier would not fit into the small handbag she had chosen, and she felt it detracted somewhat from the image she was trying to create.
She walked slowly towards the end of Platform 6 and waited. Fortunately, Roger appeared almost immediately. He had less hair – and what there was of it was greyer – than in the picture Janey had emailed her, but his smile was genuine and welcoming. He was casually dressed in a baggy jumper, jeans and trainers and a weathered biker jacket.
‘I thought we might walk up to Covent Garden’ he suggested. He looked at her shoes. ‘Are you up for a ten-minute stroll?’
‘Sure,’ she agreed.
‘Let me take that.’ He wrested the carrier bag from her before she could protest and they set off.
He was recently divorced, he told her. And he had two adult children, one of whom was a nurse. ‘So that’s a coincidence,’ he said.
‘She’s a nurse, you’re a nurse.’
Annie knew she looked bewildered.
‘Don’t tell me you lied on your profile and that you’re really some awful admin person?’
She blushed. Janey must have changed her occupation, thinking that ‘doctor’ was too intimidating.
‘No … I just forgot that I put it down. I … you know … um … some men have … a thing about nurses’ uniforms …’ Oh God, she thought, what on earth possessed me to say that?
Fortunately, he laughed and put his arm around her. She felt this was a bit soon in the proceedings but it was not an unpleasant sensation. He was interesting and easy on the eye, and his smell was attractive.
They chatted amiably as they walked up St Martin’s Lane and into Long Acre.
‘My office is over there,’ he said, waving in a northerly direction. ‘And my flat’s just the other side of the Opera House.’
‘And what is it you do, exactly?’ she asked.
‘I’ll tell you everything over a pot of tea,’ he answered. They stopped outside Marks and Spencer. ‘Oh, I just want to pop in here … Croissants and fruit for breakfast, do you think? You’re probably not a bacon and egg sort of girl.’
‘Breakfast!’ She looked at him, horrified. ‘I thought I was meeting you for afternoon tea.’
‘Well you are,’ he smiled. ‘But there’s not much point wasting time at our age, love.’
‘What!’ She wished she could think of something witty or cutting to say, but nothing came to mind.
‘We’re mid-life people of the world … I mean you obviously thought sex would be on the cards otherwise you wouldn’t have bought a toothbrush.’
‘Oh my God,’ she shrieked. ‘This is just awful. I am so, so out of my depth here.’ She grabbed her carrier bag. ‘I have to go.’
‘Your loss, sweetheart,’ he dismissed her with a shrug.
Too furious to stand and argue, she raced across the road, almost colliding with a bicycle. She felt stupid and naïve, which made her even angrier. She was furious with him, with internet dating, and with her own handling of the incident. However, five minutes of power-striding later, she began to see the comical side of the situation. And by the time she happened upon the statue of Oscar Wilde in Adelaide Street she was giggling.
Sitting on the bench that formed part of the sculpture, she texted Janey: Frog rather than prince. Will ring later.
Ed Note: Thanks to Christine Webber a psychotherapist, writer and broadcaster – for her guest post today. You can purchase Who’d Have Thought It from Amazon US or from Amazon UK. Treat yourself or your mum to this one!