When I was newly re-singled aged 50, the world of online dating was a massive learning experience for me. Although I’m not someone who’s ever kept a diary, I did write about my experiences in something I mentally entitled Debs Dating Diaries. Yup, I think I was imagining myself writing a regular column in some glossy magazine – nice fantasy huh? 😉
I never sought to publish it but, I learned a valuable lesson nevertheless – I discovered just how much writing about stuff helps me to make sense of it. It wasn’t all written in real time, there was a fair degree of hindsight to it, but I noticed that once I got serious with myself, I stopped writing it. One reason was I feared I’d started to believe my dating journey should be as entertaining as that of Bridget Jones, and only when I stopped laughing about it, could I stop taking on that role. The second reason was that once I got serious with myself, I met my now partner. Him being a thoroughly private person, it was a sign of my respect for him that – even thought it was anonymised – I stopped.
But how might a dating diary be of benefit to you? If you’re the only singleton in your circle of friends, you may need somewhere you can reflect on your experiences in a balanced way. It’s a common experience to find that married friends enjoy living vicariously through your dating capers, so you find ways of making them funny – even if they’re actually chipping away at your self-worth. For let’s not pretend, although dating can be great fun, it can also drain you of your last vestige of self-belief. And the older you are, the more likely you are to fall into that well of invisibility which happens when you cross the rubicon of your 50th birthday.
You can use it to keep a realistic review of your dating experiences, noting differences between different sites or resources, reflecting on the outcome of changes you’ve made in your profile, or pictures, or approach. You can make notes of any doubts you may have had about potential dates, especially ones you didn’t act on. Did not acting on them come back to bite you, or were your doubts proved unfounded? By writing it all down, you can see patterns emerging – the same type of guy, the same type of scenario – try to take a dispassionate look and see what you might learn.
You could also use it to reflect on what you want, not just from a partner, but from your future life – whether that be solo or coupled. Brainstorm or mind-map to identify what really matters to you – both in terms of lifestyle and what personal qualities might fit. Don’t worry about how your list looks – for this is entirely private and personal to you, as any diary should be. No-one’s going to be judging you on the contents of that list. If it turns out your priority is a huge wallet and an appendage to match, I’m not here to judge you.
If things go wrong and you end up bereft, it’s somewhere you can vent, somewhere you can write out your feelings, somewhere you can be open about how much it hurt, or how angry you are – for it’s safe and private… and entirely yours.
How else might someone use a dating diary? Do you think keeping one is a good idea?
© 2022, Debs Carey