We had arranged to meet in a pub opposite Reading Station.
But just before I was due to set off, he rang to say he had changed his mind. Online dating for older people sounds such a good idea, and ever more of us are signing up in the hope of meeting a wonderful new partner.
Yet on internet sites, there are dozens, hundreds, possibly even thousands of single people seemingly just like you, all looking for that special person to alleviate their loneliness and provide excitement and companionship for their later years.
Henning Wiechers, who conducted the recent survey on behalf of Metaflake, the vast German online dating agency, claimed that when people are too old to go clubbing, they need to access a second marriage market — and that the internet provides the perfect forum. While online dating is certainly booming in popularity — the industry is worth £170 million in the UK, with nine million of us now logging on in the hope that we will find somebody, otherwise unreachable, who will be just right for us — my experiences should serve as something of a warning to others looking for love online.
After my partner died, I thought to myself: ‘Online dating is the modern way to go.’ I was pretty certain I would soon find my ideal person, somebody clever, witty, good-looking, successful, excellent company, open to new ideas, well-read and with a sense of purpose in life.
If I’m looking for him, he must be looking for me, I reasoned.
None seemed to have any of the extra pounds that actually counted, namely money.
I read that they were ‘mortgage slaves’ — at 60 plus! Not only did he expect me to buy my own drinks — I’m old-fashioned enough to believe that a man should pay on the first date — but it turned out he had huge baggage.
— that they were ‘comfortable in their old jeans’, that they liked country walks and red wine. At 63 he had a teenage son, plus he was paying maintenance for two other children from an earlier relationship.
We had nothing whatever in common, and I fled as soon as decently possible.
But for the internet, we would never have come together, and he taught me another truth — that as well as enabling you to find your soulmate, the internet also gives you a chance to meet somebody who is the exact opposite of what you are seeking in a partner.
His internet profile said he lived in an idyllic cottage with a log fire and that he was positive, creative, practical and content, except for that special person in his life.
He said he was a writer, so that was clearly, for me at least, a major plus.