Public relations – the holistic process. One topical example, Donald Trump

I’ve worked for a PR company in my long and chequered career  and they had a great definition  posted up on the wall, wish I could remember exactly how it went, maybe someone can remind me? It was based on a first date

He tells her ‘I’m the best dancer / cook / lover / (pick one) you’ll ever meet’ – that’s advertising

He tells her ‘ask that woman over there, she’ll tell you I’m the best dancer / cook / lover you’ll ever meet’ – that’s marketing

She says to him ‘I hear you’re a wonderful dancer / cook / lover ‘ – that’s public relations.

We of course insisted PR was the best way to package anything.

It can go either way, once the word is out there it takes on a life of its own. Donald Trump, then and now, is a wonderfully topical example. Three years ago if anyone had said ‘Donald Trump’ you’d picture that bizarre hair, the hectoring thuggish image, oh yeah I heard of him, Ivana Trump’s ex? Today, whether you’re a supporter or bug-eyed that he has supporters, you know the guy better than you know your neighbours.  Power of publicity.

Right now I’ve got three areas of my life that need work. Dating, looking for a new job as redundancy is happening early next year, and selling books.

Dating, the advertising part is setting up your website profile, sure, but marketing?  It’s an area where you don’t really want to promote the fact you date a lot, that doesn’t imply permanence and that hand-in-hand walk into the sunset!  And frankly, double standard is still double standard, is it really good PR if a man says hey, I hear you’re hot in the sack? So the trick would be to find a website with a public forum, set up a good profile without over-selling, make engaging comments on the public forum, and build up exactly the right image so that others find you fascinating and queue up to date you. What could possibly be easier?

roll eyes

Job-hunting isn’t something I do very often and I suspect I am both very good and very bad at it. My ad, the old faithful CV, is good. My record is good, and my verbal references are great – I rarely go for an interview without being offered the job but, here’s the crunch, I never get offered top salary. Ever.  That needs salesmanship or amazing PR and I am rubbish at selling.


Take selling books, oh, I know the process. Putting link after link on social media and trying to word them exactly right to hit that elusive demographic, the reader who clicks and buys, is the learning curve.

Marketing, that even more elusive demographic, the reader who reviews, who is prepared to put on record that they (a) bought the book (b) enjoyed it and (c) will buy more  – oh how we love them. That gets abused, too, especially by the professional publishers, within minutes of a book going on sale several hundred, or thousand, readers (numbers depending on budget) rush to record it is the Very Best Book they ever read ever EVER.

PR is the reader who tells friends about the book they enjoyed. The priceless word-of-mouth  recommendation. Dream world, that friend tells friends, conversation starts and spreads like wildfire.


I did write a how-to book about dating as a mature single. Perfect world, it could sort out the employment and increase sales of my other books as a by-product. Any PR gurus out there – call me? And oh yes I do realize putting Donald Trump in the headline was an odd attempt at a demographic. Politics aside, though, he’s a type of older man us autumn roses would come across and seriously, picture him without the billions, would you date him? Should you?



Don’t accept the first offer, haggle. Apparently. Does that cover first dates as well?

I have been offered job relocation to a much more expensive part of the UK, but it wasn’t a very good salary offer, so I said no. The offer was instantly pushed up to around 25%  more than my existing salary.

Hang on – if you want me, why make a mediocre offer to start?  I said I would think about it but all I can think is hmm, should I refuse again and see if it goes higher? Push my luck?

As it happens, my car insurance just came due. 9 years no-claim bonus, 16 years with the same insurer, £400. In the same post I got a letter from Saga offering car insurance starting from £109 a year. So of course I got an on-line quote. Like for like, plus lower excess than my current insurer, plus a couple of handy extras, the quote came in at £258.

I rang my current insurers to say I wouldn’t be renewing and they instantly dropped my £400 renewal cost down to just over £300. Pass.  But I did ask why, with 16 years loyalty, I didn’t get the best possible offer to start with?

Like why, with my existing proven track record with my current employers, who do want me to relocate, I didn’t get the best possible offer to start with?

How far does this haggling thing go, anyway? Has it spilled over into all sides of our lives?

I’m a mature single on a dating website (write books about it and all) but have I missed a trick here? When someone suggests a first meet over a pub lunch somewhere, should I be responding ‘not unless you send a taxi and make it a proper lunch at the Ritz Grill with you picking up the tab’ just to start the negotiations?

I looked on Amazon – with over ten million titles available, I reckoned there’d be at least one book on the subject. There was one on how to haggle to save money on everything. It was quite expensive – I emailed the author a counter-offer.

But there was no book I could see on haggling for the BIG things.

  • Income.
  • Politics afloat on a sea of money but offering us crappy choices.
  • Lots on religion but nothing comparative, you know, to compete for our patronage and donations.
  • The start of love has millions of books, but none on haggling up front. Once love is launched, there’s some financial advice but most books covering finance are reserved for the end of love, the really expensive bit. May the best haggler win.

It seems that for the really big things  we either have no choices at all, or need iron nerve and bluff.

That’s seriously worrying because my how-to book on successfully meeting mature single men is already on pre-order and if I missed an entire haggle culture, it’s not going to be as seriously useful as I thought it was.



Are you a glowing autumn rose? How-To meet a Mr Will-Do-Nicely … coming soon.

A couple of the reviews on Rainbow, while friendly enough, remarked they had bought the book thinking it was a guide to flourishing as a mature single. Well, in a way it was, the men (and women) Dorothy came across were exaggerated for fictional purposes, but they are distinctive types to be found on every website for mature singles.  A small cross-section in a very large field, you could say.

I’ve written blogs about the types, and I certainly had plenty of material. Write another novella, pulling in more types, and more advice? Or do a how-to book?

I went with the how-to. Well, I went with two. There’s one coming out On Meeting Mr Will-Do-Nicely, and there are times you’d think I was trying to keep all the single mature men to myself, it is so crammed with cautionary tales. I’m not, honestly! The fact remains that most of them pass from hand to hand like hot potatoes (leaving burned fingers in their wake) because eligible men in their fifties and sixties, especially the ones who have been single for a while, are a whole new ballgame.

So why even bother, risk being hurt, heartbroken, scammed, poorer but wiser?  Because we are gorgeous, and still fizzing with life and adventure, and forewarned is forearmed. Go have fun. Do no harm.

As I wrote Mr Will-Do-Nicely I kept adding bits of advice I’d been given, or discovered for myself, which have nothing to do with dating and everything to do with making the best of the totally unexpected surge of energy and sunshine suddenly lighting up life and turning us into autumn roses.  It’s an odd reality that women in their late forties, even early fifties, menopausal and irritable and mourning the loss of fertility, are the most resentful of our Indian summer. You’re how old? You cannot be feeling healthier, fitter, more interested in sex and life generally, than we are, we feel old, you are old!

Ooooh, ffssssssssst.  Whether they like or not (well, they don’t) you can feel better than them. You do. They’ll find out, if they can shake that attitude. Sometime after the menopause the rush of life comes roaring back, for at least a while, and it is wonderful. It is so easy to waste it, with the wrong mind-set. Eventually I’d added so many notes about that it was diluting the singles book. So I moved them to another, On Perfecting The Indian Summer.

Am I an expert? No. Qualified to give advice? Only by experience. These aren’t books that order you about, lay down the law, they are How-To books based on reality.  I’m in my late fifties, I didn’t expect the Indian summer myself, and I did waste the start of it. I briefly joined a mature singles website to research one of my whodunits (Five Six Pick Up Sticks) and later I joined another for Nine Ten Begin Again so I could ask some fairly direct questions, and eventually I wrote A Second Rainbow. I’ve had a lot of fun, in the name of research, along the way. As for the Indian summer itself, I’ve met many women enjoying the sunshine, including my own half-sisters over a decade ahead of me in age, and they’ve all been generous with sharing advice. I played with the subject, in Eleven Twelve, where I called it the gloaming, and that put me in touch with more autumn roses. There are a lot of us quietly out there.

It will be interesting to see how the books do but if a single reader, just one, enjoys herself more as a result of reading either, they did their job.

Out sooooooooooooooon

Men on understanding women

Well, men don’t. Even mature single men who have known many women over many years have a formula they cling to, and they duck and run when that stops working because they’ve given up trying to understand women. Women don’t always understand women. You’d think as we all got older we’d mellow but it doesn’t seem to work that way, we get a little bit weirder. Or, as we all, men and women, like to think, more interesting.

I like men, some of my best friends are men, and I sometimes envy them their confidence. But every now and then they ask me, usually sounding a bit bewildered, why their woman, (or the woman they would like to make their woman) acts irrationally.

(Okay that sounded like that old joke, “my girlfriend thinks I’m a stalker. Well, she isn’t really my girlfriend yet”)

The thing is, half the time I can only take a wild guess. Women can be bonkers. So can men, but that’s another blog.

I wrote a book about second-time-round (mature) singles which is mainly for women – lots of advice and warnings wrapped up in a story with sexy bits – and you know what, men could do worse than read it for a sneak peak into how women think.

Oh, and if you got here too late for the special in the next blog, click on the cover in the margin – see it? A Second Rainbow? that’ll whisk you off to your closest friendly Amazon. Read the sexy bits, sure, but then re-read the bits about how women think. You’ll thank me. Tell your friends. Don’t tell your rivals.

Ever researching on your behalf.



Grumpy Old Men – grumpy? Make that raging …

I wish, I really wish, I could triumphantly produce the sure-fire way of avoiding the worst types of Angry Single. Whether you are twenty-something and know nothing, or fifty-something and think you know it all, you are going to bump into these men and women, and they are hard to spot because we all have a trace of Angry Single in us. Some of us need a hug. Some need a lobotomy!

I ended the last blog saying anyone meeting a single through a website should keep an emotional distance until they’ve met his or her friends, family and, ideally, ex. This is absolutely the only way you can hope to escape being blown up by the full-blown, psychologically damaged, destructive types. Hang on to that emotional detachment.

Most of the regulars on my favourite singles website know that I am fascinated by their stories, and everyone loves a listener. I’ve learned, and am still learning, things that would make your hair stand on end, yet none of us can yet define the full-blown nut-job from a straightforward common-or-garden selfish single. The latter are bad enough, granted, but they aren’t deliberately cruel and you can look back at the relationship, spot what went wrong, learn from it. The nut-jobs will send you crazy wondering what you did wrong. The answer? Nothing.

Angry Singles range from the resentful to the psychotic, and you could reject someone having a few adjustment issues as easily as you can overlook the warning signs of true disaster. Unfortunately the only true way is in retrospect. If he or she behaves well during, and after, the break-up, they were okay. If he or she is utterly indifferent and even vicious if cornered, ouch.

Okay, that’s not much help! But it is why meeting an ex is so important. There are three sides to every breakup (his, hers and the truth) and some breakups are seriously toxic. The guy you are keen on could have met an Angry Single last time out, and most definitely will not get a good report there! But if he or she can’t produce one person from their past who will speak well of them, be afraid. Be very afraid. (By the way, can you produce someone like that yourself?)

This blog isn’t, for once, personal experience, despite my adventure, but I will say his ex wrote to me at toxic length when she saw a pic of him on my Facebook page. I already knew his track history was dire and he was as much frog as prince, there was nothing she said that he hadn’t already told me, and no horrible surprises. It was oddly reassuring, and it also kept me properly centred. Speak to the ex!

The only warning signs seem to be too much, too soon:  yet we all hope for that magical flare-up, the driving excitement. Being older simply adds to that pressure, we all have one eye on the clock. It isn’t easy to keep your head when being swept off your feet, but it is the only way you will survive and the true Angry Single doesn’t hang around long – a few months. So many singles, after all, is their philosophy, so little time.

Pure Angry Singles are obvious:  controlling, domineering, jealous almost from the first exchange of messages, fiercely sorry for themselves, and nothing is ever their fault. Don’t kid yourself: a hug isn’t going to sort this one, the future will not be rosy. Abusive relationships are abusive relationships, however you met. Back away at the first warning sign, and the earlier the sign, the faster you should run.

The Rebound Single has been suddenly dumped back on the market after an unexpected breakup, furious that life has short-changed them, determined to catch up the lost years and cram in every experience, every ounce of attention that they know they are owed. Was it Mae West who said the only way to get over someone is under someone else? Not so funny when it’s personal, and not at all funny when you find yourself with a full-blown Angry Rebound Single. The first quarrels, even the first hint of criticism, and boom, they are rushing on to the next adventure, one resentful eye on that clock. They are the worst of the Selfish Singles, and the more recent their last relationship was, the more careful you should be about getting involved emotionally. That baggage is heavy, and sometimes it is loaded with dynamite.

It’s sometimes hard to define whether all long-term singles are damaged, or instead that all damaged people are destined to be long-term singles, but sociopaths and malignant narcissists do love the singles websites. Hang on to your detachment until you have met the background people normal folks have in their lives. Chances are you will be dumped just for insisting. Ouch, yes, but better to be bruised than eviscerated. That’s about the only test I’ve been able to come up with, despite asking a lot of questions.

The ONLY warning therefore is, again, too much, too soon. Angry Singles will rush you, ‘love-bomb’ you, pour attention and passion over you. If you kept that emotional detachment, rode the wave instead of going under without a struggle, then you can pick yourself up when it dumps you on the beach, put a touch of arnica on the bruise, and try not to become an Angry Single in turn! It wasn’t your fault, there was nothing you could have done to change things, and you’ll know better next time.

I don’t make a penny from this blog, so hopefully will be forgiven for linking that anthem of the bewildered victim: Ti Amo

I write for older singles, those at the far end of middle age, no longer young, not yet old. We have no definition for our age, yet as baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, we are a huge group, and entering what is for most of us the best time of our lives. Divorce rates have never been higher: many of us are single, but we can’t and won’t let that imprison us in our homes, right?

My blogs on the subject have been warnings, for the most part, because there is an euphoria about this Indian summer which can take us in all innocence down the wrong paths. My books, on the other hand, are a celebration of this lovely age, and my blogs will be focused more on the positives from now on. The best really is yet to come!

Grumpy Old Men: telling porkies

I took some flak from a Grumpy Old Man about my dating website blogs. He says I don’t underline the dangers and the risks enough, I make it sound fun. Most singles, he says darkly, are single for good reason, scammers are a real danger, and psychopaths, sociopaths, malignant narcissists, and a whole range of people with psychological disorders stalk the websites looking for victims.  Older singles (or if you prefer, those of us who have been young for a long time) returning to the singles world in a flurry of hope and nervous excitement are prime targets.

I did think I had made those points, but fair comment. He’s a Cynical Single and he has been on my favourite singles website a while longer than I have, using the same name throughout, which is in itself both a point in his favour and a reason to give up on him immediately. Only one of the characters in my books, ironically enough considering they are all single and in my favourite age group, would fall into a website type: Donald would be a Cynical Single, and it’s a type I find disastrously attractive. Edge did enter the world of Mature Singles in Five Six Pick Up Sticks as bait in a murder investigation: if any of them were to go onto the websites again, it would be Donald who kept them out of trouble and chased off the liars and chancers.

Dishonest Singles are everywhere.  Nobody, nobody, is totally honest on their profile or in the first exchanges. Even if they have no agenda for deliberate misrepresentation, they want to present themselves at their best.  They’ll say they’re separated, for example: they won’t say it’s their fifth divorce.

As a rule of thumb, you can be pretty sure anyone who has been on a singles website for more than a year is no longer a straightforward single person looking to meet another straightforward single person, no matter how beguiling the profile. At the very least they have unrealistic expectations: it’s got to be perfect, the potential partner has to be without peer and without flaw, rich, successful, good-looking and adoring, or will be dropped like a hot potato. And those are the honest ones!

Dishonest Singles with an agenda know that to remain too long on the website shelf is a warning sign, so they create new profiles, with new photos, every 8 to 10 months – or when they are in a relationship, so that the unsuspecting other half doesn’t realize they still have their fishing lines in the water.

Some Dishonest Singles are, of course, pure professionals.  I still find it hard to take the scammer threat seriously, because their approaches are so obvious, and their follow-up so weak, but let the point be made again. Don’t get smug, or feel you can spot a liar a mile away. Some are good. My Cynical Single says he learned of a man who took a year preparing the ground, then lifted fifty thousand pounds off his victim.

I say my Cynical Single but that’s wishful thinking. He’s remarkably good-looking and has a wonderful dry sense of humour, but that three years on the website has made him Teflon. Men are scammed more often than women, and he’s had some incredibly convincing approaches over the three years, successfully parrying them all. He eyes all and any approaches with such deep scepticism that although we are friendly, I suspect he thinks I’m playing a long game.  As if. He’s honest enough (unless, of course, he is softening me up to take money off me and frankly good luck to him, because I’m a writer, I don’t have any) but Cynical Singles are a dead end on the websites as far as romance goes.

The disappointments, the less skilful scams, the cynicals, are part of the learning curve. The most destructive are the Angry Singles, and they can be the hardest to spot, the most charming, the most insistent. I’ve bumped into a few along the way, and one featured briefly in Five Six Pick Up Sticks but I have learned so much more since then that they will get their own blog.

The safest route, with any single met through a website, is to keep an emotional distance until you’ve met their friends, their family, and, perfect world, their ex.  If they don’t have any friends, and family, and are tight-lipped or irrational on the subject of the ex, move on. That can be easier said than done, but you will, in the long run, save yourself a bad experience. Trust me on this. I have talked to a lot of single people of both sexes. You don’t have to make your own mistakes, there is no law against learning by the mistakes of others!

The last of the warning blogs follows shortly. Then it becomes time, and more than time, to start exploring the wonders of this lovely age we’ve reached, and the opportunities that it opens up.

Love in the Global Village – journeys end in lovers meeting

One thing about being older is realizing life isn’t going to deliver everything you once hoped, and when you look back at your decisions you regret more the things you didn’t do than the things you did. You do get braver.

I’ve done lots of research on second-time-around single life, and there are pitfalls aplenty (follow back the tags on website dating), but whether you want to meet a man for company, or just wish you knew more people, the dating websites are a useful resource. Life isn’t going to drop Mr Right straight into your outstretched hand – Mr Will Do Nicely is the most you can really hope for – but don’t waste your wonderful Indian summer in vague restlessness, sitting lonely at home.

The idea of a singles website, especially for mature singles, is that you look for people near you, read profiles, and if you like the look of someone, shyly indicate interest by whatever means the website provides, or send a cautious message. When you’ve exchanged enough messages to feel fairly confident this is a real person, not a scammer, you might exchange purpose-specific email addresses, phone numbers . . . the usual process towards meeting.

I do know a lovely woman who spotted a man in her own village and cut through all the conventions. She sent a message saying ‘tea at 3.30 tomorrow in the Ivy café?’ She is sixty one, he is sixty four, and they got married seven months later, shining with happiness. Those are the stories that fuel the huge singles market, and although they are the exceptions rather than the rule, they do happen. As often as lottery wins: but like the lottery, got to be in it to win it.

Every older man on a singles website can tell you he gets messages, practically daily, from gorgeous young women far far away, speaking slightly fractured English but so charming that he can’t resist replying. Pretty early on she’ll suggests something like, ‘I come to you. These are my bank details. Send money for flight, I love you long time.’  There are genuine success stories, men a little long in the tooth proudly posing for photographs with their lovely young golden-coloured wives, but most of the time money flies, the girl doesn’t.

However, this blog is for us autumn roses, and that exciting moment when a rather nice bloke is showing a really flattering amount of interest. Trouble is, he’s hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles away. Blast. You really enjoy his messages, he’s funny and interesting, and he looks out eagerly for yours and responds promptly. The attraction is instant, and mutual. Phew. Suddenly the local guys look rather boring. And you do need a holiday . . .

Whoa, Silver, don’t get carried away. There are a lot of conmen out there, and some are very good at their job, and make a nice living from women who are flattered and susceptible. There are also a lot of damaged men a sensible woman wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. An eligible man coming on the market gets fixed up so quickly by his friends’ wives he barely touches ground between the last relationship and the next, never mind having time to sign onto a singles website. The only way this lovely man you’re flirting with hasn’t been snapped up locally will be because either he isn’t actually lovely, or he’s blotted his local copybook.

But the man you found is different – yes, I know he is. Just don’t, to continue the horse metaphor, rush those fences. You like each other’s messages, emails and texts. You’ve exchanged flattering photographs, and you like those too. Stage one is going well. However, some LDR  relationships never move off the launching pad, and I wrote a blog about those. Do you have matching expectations? Not all men want to meet up. Lots of women don’t. Don’t assume, never assume . . .

Stage two: you do need to talk on Skype. Go buy a webcam, if you don’t have one. You’ll look hideous on camera but everyone does.  When you’re over 50, webcams can be downright spiteful. They seek out folds, creases and sags that you never even noticed you had! Experiment with lighting before you go live – sometimes the best is the brightest. Not exactly mood lighting, but at least you won’t look like Deputy Dawg. I’ve said this before, by the way, but never, ever, do anything on Skype you don’t want photographed – the facility is built in, you won’t even know the photo has been taken.

Create a separate Skype account for experimental chats. Use the name (and password) you use on the singles website for maximum convenience.

The webcam really is worth it, even if you go off each other instantly. (Well, especially if you go off each other instantly!) It is impossible to hide during a live conversation. Maybe he can’t meet your eyes, or his mouth hangs restfully open between sentences. Those wonderful flowing speeches in his letters are now halting conversation, with lots of ums and ahs. You sign off after a polite half hour with a sigh of both relief and regret.

What if you don’t go off him, but the mutual attraction increases? If this continues to grow legs and keep moving, you are going to have to consider stage three, and we aren’t talking tea at the Ivy. Because of the distance, this is a weekend. Or a week. Phew!

Others may disagree, but I wouldn’t invite him to your patch. An attractive, available, ideal, man is rarer than hen’s teeth and you are about to learn why this seeming catch is on the market. Don’t assume, never assume . . .He’s definitely flawed. He’s probably dodgy. He could be a full-blown nutter: do you really want him knowing where you live?

You can meet halfway, on neutral territory. The convention for that is that each pay their own flights, and the man pays for the accommodation. You’re both mature adults, and the accommodation is likely to be a double. In your position, I would discreetly contact the hotel and check other rooms are likely to be available at short notice. Just in case. Even if he is otherwise wonderful, he may turn out to snore like a foghorn.

If he lives in a part of the world you particularly want to visit, or you want to be sure he’s not married, going to his is the third option. It is the most alarming: you will be in a country where you know no-one, may not speak the language, and are risking spending time 24/7 with someone who could be truly scary. At least we autumn roses are unlikely to be sold into sordid slavery, but he could drink, do drugs, have dangerous mood swings, be subject to violent rages if thwarted.  Of course that’s true of any older single man you meet, even the guy in the next village, and you’ve talked so much, written so much to each other, that you know him far better, in some ways, than you will ever know the man in the next village. There is something about him, and you could wonder, for the rest of your life, if you should have taken the chance.

Take it.

Tell someone where you are going, who you are meeting, all the safety stuff. Arrange to be in touch with your safety back-up every day. Don’t assume, never assume . . .

By now you’ve been pretty honest with each other. Whatever you’re thinking, he’s definitely hoping there’ll be a little nookie. You’ve discussed your expectations, right? Your preferences, your absolute no-no’s, your maybes? This is important. Even learning that he rises with the lark and likes an early-morning five mile tramp before breakfast, while your holiday preference is to get up around ten, doesn’t need to be a deal-breaker. For a week, you can both compromise, but it is so much better to know in advance. You aren’t giggling, blushing, hopeful teenagers. Talk things through like the mature adults that you are. Don’t assume, never assume . . .

Whatever you say to each other, whatever bright hopes you have, accept that statistically this is not going to last. Don’t pin your hopes on true love, and golden years to follow, or that first holiday will be a terrible disappointment. The chances for a permanent happy ending are miniscule: frankly, about the same odds that you will be brutally murdered. Most LDRs end with the first holiday, although some may limp to a second. Bear that in mind, and set your sights on enjoying your holiday, being good company, and enjoying his.

As always in these blogs, I have done my research, although it was far more thorough than I ever intended: I was as surprised as anyone to find myself actually heading off into the blue, and vividly remember the shock of seeing the man I was about to spend a week with. I had assumed that talking and laughing every night on Skype for three months had been enough preparation. For a moment I nearly bolted back into the airport, as reality kicked in (what was I thinking?). Be prepared for that panic reaction, too!

A few LDRs do thrive on long separations and occasional meetings. We had several increasingly successful holidays, but a mutually genuine attempt to spend longer together here on home turf proved too much for something as pretty, glittering, and durable, as a soap bubble. We were temperamentally suited to short bursts of togetherness, and anything longer was definitely too real. Whether the underlying friendship will survive the ruffled feelings is anyone’s guess, but I wasn’t his first LDR, and won’t be the last. I have no regrets, put it that way: and some interesting memories!

In Thirteen Fourteen, Olga introduces her long-standing LDR friend, and regular readers learn Donald had an LDR too, which ended abruptly when he found someone closer to home. I don’t research this stuff for fun, you know. It’s all about the books. Nearly all about the books.

Ever researching on your behalf,


Love in the Global Village – lovers who never meet

The world has become a global village, with Facebook, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn and on-line chat rooms connecting friends and strangers everywhere.  Singles of all ages get to chat in all parts of the world. Sometimes you meet someone who resonates, there’s the tiny click of recognition, and – uh-oh. This global village is still an extremely large planet, he’s on the far side, and the teleporter hasn’t been invented yet.

I’ve done a few blogs already on being single, second time round, and how to recognize the types you meet in the over-fifties singles world, but this blog is about those relationships where you never meet – the twilight world of the never-never long distance relationship, the LDR. Some are fun, a what-if that brightens your day. Some, especially for older singles who have been out of the dating game for a while, are a handy way back into learning all over again how to interact with someone who is interested in you as a person, and as a possible lover. Most will flare and die in a few weeks, months at most, and the residual glow should outlast the pang of the ending. I was in one (I take my research responsibilities very seriously) and have felt the tug, and I do know where you are coming from. Mine was pretty conventional in length, very intense and exciting, but there’s a danger they can become part of your life.

It really is a danger. EVERY singles website has hundreds of members of all ages drifting month after month, even year after year, in go-nowhere relationships, feeling comforted because they are loved. Some are first-timers, feeling they are unique in their odd, yet workable, relationship. Others are on their second, third, safe emotional haven. Some run several at once, which is frankly just greedy. They are slightly addictive for people with emotional or physical insecurities, and some singles look only for the never-meet LDR, although they will never admit it, meeting is always the eventual goal. Somehow. Someday. Far in the future . . .

You may be in love with one, who will change, chameleon-like, to be your perfect partner, just to get back into that lovely glow. Most people are going to be puzzled that someone hundreds, or thousands, of miles away could be absorbing your thoughts. Some will tell you sternly that it won’t work, LDRs always fail. Some will tell you that you are being scammed, cheated, played for a sucker. Some will ask when you are going to meet, and look pitying when you say nothing is planned yet.

There must be some successes, I suppose, and anyway yours is different. Not to sound too cynical, but yours is always different.

Fact remains, it is enthralling. You have met someone who is uniquely in tune with you, and because you spend more and more time talking, with no outside interaction, no context, you develop a faster, deeper, more meaningful relationship than you have ever experienced before. Soulmates. Wow.

No, you aren’t soulmates! The grass does look greener over that far fence, but from this distance you can’t smell the fertilizer. It’s there. Believe me. It may be a whiff, it may be a stench, but that grass is not naturally that green!

Reality check: are you yourself really telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Does he know your real age, those extra pounds or bulges you just can’t shake, the little bad habits you conceal from the world? Chances are you are portraying yourself as the person you are in your head, the person you’d like to be. Chances are, so is he. He may be absolutely genuine, not intending to mislead you in any way, but you are looking at him through his eyes. He is seeing you through yours. No wonder it gets intoxicating, eh?  Here, at last, is someone who sees you as you really are!

Of course that sets this forever as a no-meet LDR, because meeting would destroy everything. When you live an hour apart, the LDR dies when one or the other runs out of excuses and abruptly vanishes instead. When you live thousands of miles apart, the illusion isn’t as easily shattered. It can evolve into a corner of your life, radiating gentle warmth, adding to your confidence, but it can also mutate alarmingly and become far too significant.

Normal people can’t live out normal lives when they are obsessed by someone they have never met and will never meet, and the ending can be frighteningly destructive. LDRs DO end. Often there is just sudden silence and you have no idea whether you have been dumped for someone else, or he dropped dead, or any of the many scenarios your panicking mind can summon up. It is almost impossible for the outsider to understand that an intense LDR is, in an odd way, more real than reality.

Here are a few more reality checks.

  • Are you talking on Skype, or is the entire relationship on texts and emails? If you don’t know what he looks or sounds like, especially if he resists the Skype option, there’s something he isn’t telling you. He’s married, he’s in prison, he’s physically unlike the photos he sends, whatever the reason, there is something wrong.
  • If you are the one resisting Skype, why? If he thinks you are younger, better-looking, or more successful than you really are, and you have deliberately fostered that belief, either confess or back off. You are going to become increasingly dissatisfied with your real self.
  • How much time are you giving him – occasional texts and emails, chatting on Skype a couple of times a week, or are you spending hours every day talking to, or thinking of, each other? Throttle back. Half an hour a day, tops. Or a couple of days a week. The more he pushes for more of your time, the more concerned you should be. Love-bombing is not a sign of a normal healthy man with a normal healthy lifestyle.
  • If he usually leads the conversation, introduce a change of subject to something that interests you. If he pulls back to his subject, you are there just as an audience. You’ll be replaced when you’ve heard all the stories.
  • If you think something is off-key, don’t dismiss the thought. It is.
  • If the idea that he could suddenly arrive on your doorstep is terrifying, listen to that thought!
  • If the wish that he would suddenly arrive on your doorstep is all-consuming, yet there is no possibility of ever meeting, throttle back. Way back.
  • If he isn’t always able to respond immediately, if he has unavoidable social commitments, do you know what they are? Do they bother you? If yes, throttle back. Way back.
  • Is he jealous about your time, especially when you can’t respond at the usual times? Have you stopped making outside commitments as a result? Don’t!
  • If either or both of you have been in LDRs before, accept that this is a pattern and either or both of you are copping out of real life. Cop back in! The twilight world of the LDR is like a diet high in sugar, delicious but extremely unhealthy.

If talking about meetings always seems to end nowhere, there’s a test you can do. Be aware it could end the LDR on the spot, and your soulmate might vanish abruptly. That stings, but ends an unreal situation before you get too sucked in. Announce you’ve just learned your cousin will be in his part of the world in 2 days, and suggest a meetup for coffee. If he is unavoidably busy at that time, that’s fine, your cousin will be there for a fortnight.

Of course some serial LDR specialists know this ploy, and will play along. I’m not talking scammers here: anyone who could be caught by a scripted approach, and not notice any woodenness in the next exchanges, wouldn’t be reading this blog anyway. There are some emotionally dysfunctional people who have been shaken off again and again, and have learned the traps and tests. They’ll jump through almost any hoops to keep your attention and love, and will certainly agree to this proxy meeting. Don’t gasp with relief and instantly confess. Arrange a time, arrange a place, and wait. Yes, you are lying, and to your soulmate, but in real life you would have been able to test him in hundreds of ways by now, without even realizing you were testing him. If he is genuine, now you will know. Most ‘soulmates’ will fail it, and that’s better to know, too.

If he comes back to you after the appointment, sounding puzzled and concerned because your cousin failed to turn up, well, now it is time to confess. If the relationship survives your explanation (he should understand, after all, that you have normal fears and concerns), then you are moving beyond this blog, because I never heard of the first, let alone the second. I do know, though, that long term relationships like this are counter-productive. My best advice to you, especially if there were other things on the list that struck warning chords, is to retreat. Normal people don’t live like this, and you want a normal life. Retreat until it really is a gentle warm corner in the room of your life, taking less than ten percent of your waking hours. If he resists, or vanishes, accept that you shouldn’t be living in an emotional twilight, and that it is time to move on.

If you do finally manage a meeting, be aware that few LDRs survive the first encounter: curiosity is satisfied, and there isn’t enough interest left to go back to the cosy comfort.  Ouch. But then do you want to be putting all this time and emotion into a man you wouldn’t much like in person?

Some LDRs, the traditional ones, can thrive on occasional meetings connected by long loops of waiting time, but that is another blog!

Ever researching on your behalf


Single older woman WLTM honest man with GSOH, yadda yadda.

A while back I wrote a few blogs about senior singles, because I find it intriguing to track the differences between dating then, so to speak (i.e. first time round, young and looking for a partner in life), and dating now. I’m on a free website with very active blogs, quizzes and forums – a kind of Facebook for singles. It is international and for all ages but the forums are dominated by the senior singles. Perfect.

These are not blogs about scammers, who of course mine the websites assiduously and constantly. Some are obvious to the meanest intelligence (and yet still have their successes. Go figure) and some are more subtle. In a nutshell, if they ask or offer their phone number / email address / skype address / or (eek!) money in the first exchange of messages, back away. Fast.  If it takes a few more messages before the subject of money comes up, run, they’re good. It’s frighteningly easy to set up a false profile, I did myself when I started (for information only), and I’m pulling together another blog on that subject. But this isn’t that blog.

These blogs are about singles with other agendas. Some of them are very wily indeed, with no intention whatsoever of settling down. Well, maybe if a mark with a high income and a low IQ drifted by, they’d snap him or her up, but right here, right now, being between 50 and death, healthy, active and with a reasonable income, is to have the world as their oyster and they the pearl, and they enjoy themselves very much indeed.

I pulled together a profile of male types (link here) and have been idly, in free moments, trying to pull together a companion blog of female types.  Perhaps I’m too close to the trees to see the wood, because it proved impossible. Some of them are just, well, nuts. But anyway, here are a few types, mainly thanks to the bloke I got to know through the website, who has been on there a while, is a bit of a professional himself, and gets messages All The Time.

Have to start with myself, I am definitely a professional single.

  • The Onlooker – intrigued by what everyone else is up to, quick to give her opinion, coy about her own agenda.  Most Onlookers put their status as ‘in a relationship’ or ‘not available’. In their bio they say things like Not looking Not looking Not looking although some opt for putting their age as 99 and insist they are looking for older men only.  Onlookers can be drawn into public flirtation and are deft and quite witty.  They give advice, and it is usually worth reading.
  • The Spiritual Soul – searching for love, but not just on the coarse physical plane. She seeks a soulmate, and wanders along the beaches (they nearly all live on beaches) thinking beautiful thoughts which she turns into poetry. She has frequent affairs which end when the potential beach typesoulmate would rather turn on the telly or go out for a pint than read yet another poem, and she realizes sadly that he is too of the earth to be The One.  He is hustled out the door, immortalized in a poignant and regretful poem, and then forgotten.
  • The Cynic – hardly counts as a single because she never, ever meets anyone. She complains there are no real men left, certainly none in her locality, and deletes private messages instantly because all messages are ipso facto from scammers. the cynicShe makes disparaging comments in the public forums and brings everyone else down.
  • The Upgrader describes herself as single, but coyly admits in her first or second private message that she is in fact in a relationship / marriage but it isn’t working out.
  • The Pragmatist is perhaps the most honest of all. She wants a better life for herself, preferably marriage, and is offering good company and that she will look after her man. Most of them are in poorer countries and with limited English but to judge by the blogs, the men who accept that offer and import a Pragmatist are pleased enough. However, many who look like Pragmatists are of course scammers. It is a very fine line to define. Be warned, too, gents, that genuine Pragmatists often turn fairly promptly into Upgraders.
  • The Nut – phew, how to define a nut? She starts off seeming sensible and even charming but scratch the surface and the lunacy bubbles up. Some are sensible in the mornings, wildly erratic in the evenings. Some become wildly demanding, attack other women on the forums, publicly insult men who have backed away, take the mildest remark as either a deadly insult or a heartfelt declaration, and appear in every shape and form. There are an awful lot of them and they get weirder and weirder until the website managers delete their profiles.

I know it isn’t a complete list but it will do as your starter pack. There’ll be updates. Maybe. Some of these types have started to creep into the backgrounds of my books, which are whodunits set in the age-group. Now you know how they get there! (with thanks also for research contributed by Alex)


Mature man looking for that special woman. GSOH. Own hair and teeth.

Whatever the type, the signs of the professional single older man are fairly easy to spot. His approach will be direct but not cheesy.  If you respond, the correspondence will be chatty, lively, and fairly interesting. He can spell reasonably well, and string words together, a novelty in itself. You will start to find things in common. After a slow start*, he is becoming flatteringly keen—keener than you are, but not to an alarming degree. You feel the first real tug of attraction.

Obviously some are con-artists, and dangerous in the extreme, and you would emerge poorer and wiser and possibly broken-hearted. The more charming, attractive and eligible someone is, the more wary you should be, but that adrenalin rush is addictive. Mr Right, especially when he confesses he has been around for a while yet never met the Right One, is not for catching. He can be fun, though, if you know the rules. The commonest types (well, on the website I watch) are:

  • The Heathcliff, brooding, heartbroken, bravely carrying on after the loss of a dearly loved spouse, who has to be wooed and coaxed into talking about his pain and fights against his attraction to you.
  • The Cad, who admits to several adventures in the past, warns you off, despite his great attraction to you. He says disarmingly that he’s never felt like this before, but his track record is dire, he knows the fault must be in him. Yet, with you, he feels different . . .
  • The Waif, who loves too deeply and gets treated badly by women, and is almost afraid to trust but is drawn, despite himself, by your honesty and sincere nature.
  • The Bluffer, who puts a bold face on life but under it all feels insecure and unsure and confesses he envies you your confidence and wonderful personality.
  • The Married Man gets a surprising amount of action. He usually lists himself as single, but confesses early on that he is married and hanging in there for the children / grandchildren / his wife couldn’t cope alone. (Quite often he isn’t married at all, by the way. Very handy shield, and a way of juggling his diary to suit himself and run several women at once.) Women find him safe, and feel a little sorry for him, and he’s obviously attractive enough to at least one other woman. He often seems a little naïve, and asks for advice a lot. His seductions are often the most intense and if you’ll take my advice, don’t risk it. Those ones always seem to end up in tears. Choose another professional.

You’ll get stung somewhere along the way. Always gonna happen. Congratulations, it qualifies you as a semi-professional.  Go try again. Do no harm.

I wrote a book a while back (Five Six Pick Up Sticks) about the predators lurking in the deep end of the singles pool. I have learned so much since then I might need to rewrite it. On the other hand, it is a lively novella about murder and deceit. These guys are all about love. No, honestly. Cross their hearts.

*you made the cut. They usually have four or five lines in the water at the same time. If you suddenly stop hearing from him, you didn’t make the cut. Don’t worry. Plenty more fish in this sea.