Age certainly isn’t a new topic on the blog.
In fact the whole blog was created as a result of my then-impending adulthood.
For some reason turning thirty carries particular adult weight. After years clinging hold of the idea that I was just a slightly older teenager, hitting thirty finally felt like I could no longer carry on avoiding the dreaded ‘A’ word.
It’s funny, because even before my parents died I was pretty mature and independent. At nineteen I travelled to the other side of the world, and lived on my own, teaching in a university in China, where my students were four years my senior.
And yet I’ve always still seen myself as a bit of a child.
I still always refer to myself as a ‘girl’, not a woman, and struggle to remember that I’m a whole seven years older than some colleagues at work who I often include in the phrase ‘our age’.
My friends’ parents tell me that never changes. That you can be sixty, with grandchildren, and still feel the same as you did when you were 19. The only indicator that you’ve aged is the increased number of life experiences you can look back on and recount.
Where dating is concerned, age is never something which has fazed me too much.
I’ve dated someone 13 years my senior, and 10 years my junior. In the exact same way that my bi-sexual friends explain the reality of dating members of both sexes, I’m of the opinion it’s all about the person, nothing more. And really, it is just about the person – I know some really immature 45 year-olds, and some crazily mature 18 year-olds. Age is just a random number. Your life divided roughly by 365 days.
Despite having to grow up at a young age, and being pretty mature and independent anyway, generally I’ve tended to date younger guys. In fact, since I turned 25, every guy I’ve dated or been involved with has been younger than me. In five years, The Fresh Prince is one of only two men older than me that I’ve so much as kissed!
Part of that is due to the way I’ve lived my life.
After my Masters, I didn’t just step off the graduate scheme conveyor belt, I full on somersaulted off! I disappeared off around the world, doing the things which were encouraged at 18, again at 25, 26 and 27. And only really returning back to adult life because I missed the fun of a British summer filled with Rugby Sevens, Henley Regatta and PIMMs!
When I first set out on my 30 Dates by 30, I set just 3 guidelines for my prospective dates.
Aware of just how picky I can be, all I requested was that my dates were male, single, between the suggested parameters of 25 and 35. (The last rule, as you know, was broken on several occasions throughout the 30!)
I often talk on this blog about how irrelevant parameters can be. How actually when you meet someone face to face, the tick list of requirements can go out of the window. For example, if I had set my POF advanced search to ‘has no children’, then Mr SC would have never come up.
However, the reality of internet dating, and the sheer number of people available to meet online, means you always have to set some parameters. At least a vague filter to navigate your way through a sea of endless profiles.
And age is normally one of the first criteria. Even on the most basic apps, like Tinder, proximity and distance are the automatic selection criteria. Apparent no brainers. Everyone knows roughly how far he or she is willing to travel for a date, and how old or young a potential match can be.
I set my Tinder selection criteria some time ago – and even if you delete the app and reload it, it can recognise you via Facebook, and will default back to your old settings without asking the same questions over again. As such, I just assumed my settings were a pretty standard 10 year window – 25 to 35, and a 50 mile radius.
And it turns out, when faced with options, like most daters, I just look at the photos! Especially on Tinder 🙂
Last night I had a Pancake Day date.
I’ve never been for pancakes on a date before, and realising I hadn’t celebrated pancake day since I was back at university, it seemed the perfect excuse for a last minute date. As I explained yesterday with my date with Bear Grylls, post-Mr SC, I’m on a mission to remind myself how much fun it is to meet complete strangers, and get back out on the dating scene after my two-month hiatus.
And so, having exchanged a few pleasantries with my Pancake Day date (whose nickname I’ll reveal shortly …) I rather brazenly asked if he fancied meeting up for pancakes the next day. When it comes to Tinder, to be honest, I find a direct approach tends to work best. It sorts out the men from the boys – the people who are just on there to exchange messages, from the people who are actually keen to meet up. And surprisingly, you can say very little to someone before asking if they want to meet up, and the majority of guys will still happily come meet you. I guess it helps to have some idea of what you want to do on the date – I know during my 12 Dates of Christmas when I had pre-arranged activities, it was quite easy to just send boys messages asking if they wanted to go to a Panto with me, or check out a London ice rink.
At twenty-four hours notice, I had lined up my Pancake Day date.
The guy on Tinder was pretty laid back about it, telling me I was a better offer than his predatory, middle-aged, gay neighbour who had also invited him around for pancakes, but strangely not extended the same offer to any of his housemates. I tried not to take that as too much of a back-handed compliment, laughed it off, and arranged to meet at a French-themed café in a pretty area of Oxford.
As I drove over to Oxford, realising mid-journey that both my headlights had blown, and praying I wasn’t going to get pulled over by the police on a date for the second time in three months (!), my date helpfully sent me parking suggestions, and told me he’d arrived there and would wait for me in the street where I’d be parking my car.
I parked up, and sure enough, he was standing on the corner of the road. He was the same guy as the photos, and arguably more attractive than the selection of photographs he’d chosen for Tinder, which is always a promising start! We did the awkward air kiss dance, neither of us knowing whether to go in for one or two, and only settling for one because in our awkwardness we managed to clumsily smash cheekbones (yes, yes, and I call myself a ‘dating expert’ …!!! 🙂 )
I’d identified from Tinder that he was an Oxford rugby blue, from a blazer he’d been wearing in one of the photos. However one look alone would have given away his professional rugby playing past. The guy was seriously stacked – by far the most built man I’ve ever been on a date with!
And at this point I will reveal his nickname … though you will need to wait a little longer for the full explanation. Having admitted that my date last night was incredibly tonk, and really rather hot, I’ll give him the blog name ‘Wendy’. More on that later ….
Wendy and I walked down North Parade – a quaint cobbled avenue, tucked away on the north side of Oxford. The dark street was lit by fairy lights, and if it weren’t for the March chill, we could easily have been on some Mediterranean island. We located Chez Gaston, which turned out to be more of an Italian pizza restaurant than a French creperie, and were led to a cramped table, barely big enough for Wendy’s broad shoulders!
We settled down for our pancakes. I opted for traditional lemon and sugar, and Wendy went all out with a spectacular-looking plate of banana pancakes, which the waitress dramatically poured a jug of flaming Grand Marnier over. As we tucked in to the Pancake Day tradition, Wendy told me about his work, and his time in Oxford doing his postgrad studies a few years beforehand. He’d attended two other universities before Oxford, something he’d briefly mentioned before we met up. As we sat chatting about our lives, I realised I had no clue how old he was. I’ve been chatting to quite a few guys on Tinder recently, and so their ages had all kind of blurred into one. Back when I was at uni, as an undergrad, the ex-pro rugby players had all seemed ancient, though in reality most were in their late twenties. Wendy didn’t exactly have a baby face, and with his imposingly large frame, from his Tinder photos I remember assuming I was meeting someone perhaps a few years older than me. Now in real life, I realised he was probably younger than me, though not by much.
It was only when we talked about family, and he mentioned his older sister, that I thought to ask – firstly how old she was. And then, when he answered ‘27’ (!!), to ask how old he was …
Hadn’t expected that one!
Not that it was an issue – he was still the same interesting guy. It just made me giggle, that I’d gone into the date expecting him to be about 7 or 8 years older than he actually was! And I didn’t even have the excuse of having met him on POF or another site where lots of different information appears on your profile. All Tinder had provided me with was four snapshots, and his age in bold print. 24.
I admitted to not having realised, and we laughed about it, and he didn’t seem particularly fazed. I guess he had actually read my age on Tinder before meeting up!
Conversation carried on easily enough, and soon we were discussing the blog. At which point I joked about his potential blog name.
‘Peter Pan-cake?!’ I suggested. He didn’t look too impressed!
It was only when I was on my drive home that I realised the irony of the nickname. Because he wasn’t Peter Pan – I was. The girl who will never grow up!
No matter what my age says on my driving license, I definitely don’t act 30. (And I *hope* I don’t really look 30 either!) It’s why I can quite happily go on a date with a guy in his early twenties, and have a really fun night. Because genuinely after the awkward split second where I realised I’d had no clue I was on a date with a 24 year old, it simply became something to laugh about.
And if I’m Peter Pan … well I guess that makes my date Wendy 🙂 Which deep down, I can’t help thinking is a rather fitting nickname for a strapping rugby boy, and probably the kind of nickname his teammates would have bandied around back in the day!
So how did my Pancake Day date go? Well my pancakes weren’t up to much. I don’t say this often, but I actually think I could have made better! However, the company more than made up for it. Despite the nickname, Wendy was a perfect gent. And a really interesting guy, regardless of whether he was 24, 34 or 44. Conversation flowed easily, and was interesting, and the only reason the date came to an end two hours later was because the waitress appeared with the bill and told us the restaurant was closing.
Would I see Wendy again? Yes, if he forgives me for giving him a girl’s name … 🙂
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx