If I had been told, at 20-something, that I would be still going squee because a guy fancied me rotten when I was 50-something, I would have been, well, taken aback. And my mother at 70-something was getting a little breathless and giggly about one of her neighbours in her retirement village, until she realized he made a lot of the female neighbours breathless and giggly. She switched her attention to another neighbour who was shyly picking flowers for her and inviting her to quiz nights.
So when does it stop? Well, probably never. And why should it? We are a gregarious species and if life throws a curveball and dumps us on our own, doesn’t mean we should become hermits. Socializing is essential to our wellbeing. Finding someone who makes your heart skip a beat is one of the most exciting bonuses of being single. ‘Better together’ (too soon?) is the ideal state of affairs but that’s usually companionship and shared experience rather than heart-skipping excitement. Not knocking that, not at ALL, colour me green regarding those of you who have it, but an increasing number of us are single by nature. We like people, but we also like time off. Our relationships erode quickly and become unsatisfactory and before too long we are back on our own, a little ruffled and bruised but secretly also a little relieved.
It has never been so easy to meet other single people, in their tens, in their hundreds. Dating websites have boosted the sales of webcams into the stratosphere. 20 something, 50 something, 70 something, there are thousands of us out there buying into the lottery of love and wondering if, maybe this time . . .
Distance is a huge factor in the success of singles websites, and you can have an entire relationship—rise, fall and the crack of the breaking heart—without meeting. There is a misleading feeling of safety in those relationships. You can have several running at once, for that matter, although you lose your amateur status on the spot. A note on safety – Skype should be just for talking, remember there is a camera facility in the webcam. Never do anything, even a flash of cleavage, that you wouldn’t want captured in frame. Exchanging sexy messages – sexting – can be surprisingly erotic with a person who writes well; like personalized soft-porn. Use a false name. Some relationships run their entire course on messaging.
There are thousands who are addicted to that skip of the heart and nothing more. Professional singles. They’re not bad people, but they do have a different agenda and they are not going to change. In a perfect world they would be registered with a central authority, with gradings on how adept they are, how scrupulous, and of course how much fun, because some are clumsier and more selfish than others, but we don’t live in a perfect world. The first rule of all should be Do No Harm. It isn’t, but adopt it as your own and when that central authority is set up, you’ll be a shoo-in.