Ghosting, deceptive profile pics and ‘shall-we-go-Dutch?’ dilemmas… Didsbury’s Ian Parker reveals what it’s really like to go online dating in your 50s
With Celebs Go Dating and First Dates back on our small screens and a reboot of the ultimate dissection of urban relationships Sex and the City (aka And Just Like That…) in full televisual flow, schedulers know all too well that ‘new year, new love’ sits at the top of many a resolution list.
But what’s it really like here on the ground, searching for love in the big city? And what if you’re neither a Carrie, Miranda nor Charlotte but a Manchester-dwelling, 51-year-old guy?
Ian started online dating around two years ago. He was not alone. At the start of the pandemic, dating app usage soared. Tinder recorded its highest number of swipes in a single day (three billion) back in March 2020 and Bumble’s video calls increased by 70%.
Glossy Mag: Hi Ian! So, tell us a bit about yourself (don’t worry, we won’t swipe left!)
Ian: I’m originally from Shropshire but moved to Manchester over 20 years ago. I currently live in West Didsbury with my two black Labradors, Bella and Bonnie, and my new tabby kitten, Beano. I mainly work from home in healthcare marketing. I love flexibility, the ability to pop out to walk the dogs or do a Pilates class.
GM: A kitten! That must impress a lot of potential dates…
Ian: (Laughs) I adopted him just before Christmas, because I was quite lonely. When 5pm arrives and it turns dark and they’ve had their walk, the dogs don’t want to know me! I got Beano for a bit of company.
GM: Tell us a little bit about your relationship history…
Ian: For the first 20 or so years of Manchester life, I lived with a long-term partner. It was hard splitting up but, luckily, we’re now really good friends. After the breakup, in 2020, one of my friends put me on a dating site and I met someone quite quickly. We spent lockdown together and it was great, but it didn’t work out. Afterwards, I decided to just focus on my new house, building a home. It wasn’t until the end of 2021 that I decided to dive back into dating.
GM: How did the new dating chapter start?
Ian: Not too bad! I got lots of dates, sometimes too many! But initially, I wasn’t savvy. There were a few ‘what have I done!?’ moments. There are a lot of genuine people out there but a lot of not-so-genuine ones too!
GM: Tell us more…
Ian: You soon realise that not everything is as it seems. Some people sign up for one- night stands and nothing more. They’re not looking for a proper relationship like me. Over-the-top photo filters are another pitfall… quite a lot of people look absolutely nothing like their photos! And then there are the people who are not the age they say they are.
Ian: Oh, yes! It’s extremely common. I went on a date with someone who was a decade older than she said she was. I liked her anyway, so why lie? Someone told me that they met a guy who lied about his age, and it didn’t come out until they were booking a holiday and he had a meltdown over her seeing his passport! For me, if you’re looking for love and stability, don’t start with a lie.
GM: How easy is it to strike up a conversation online?
Ian: I always try to have a bit of banter with someone. People say they’re looking for someone who is good-looking, has a stable job etc., but I think most people want someone they can have a laugh with.
GM: Any first-date horror stories you can share?
Ian: One lady turned up with her friend and proceeded to get really drunk! (laughs). There was another lady who just didn’t talk. We sat in silence. Another, after a handful of dates, just ‘ghosted’ me.
GM: Where’s your favourite place to have a first date?
Ian: I think a nice pub with a good vibe or a coffee shop, so you can chat and get to know each other. I don’t like the cinema or theatre as you’re basically not communicating. Dog walks are OK too… although you’re both walking side-on and can’t see each other’s faces (laughs).
GM: Who should pay on the first date?
Ian: The man. I hate seeing guys who don’t pay on First Dates! I believe in good manners, pulling out chairs, opening doors etc. I think the art of manners and chivalry has been lost!
GM: Do you think it’s harder for men or women to navigate the dating app scene? Ian: It’s more difficult for women. Men outnumber them on all the sites (FACT: on some, it’s an 80%/20% split) and there’s a lot of cheaters, mainly men, on them too.
GM: Would you say you’re someone who wants a relationship or needs one?
Ian: I don’t need someone now, but I want someone. I love having someone there to watch TV with and share opinions with. I love cooking for someone. I hate cooking for one. The freedom and space of single life is OK, but bottom line, I want a relationship where we bring out the best in each other, enhance each other’s lives and grow together.
GM: Advice for anyone about to dip into the dating waters?
Ian: Go for it! You’ll learn to spot the red flags and not everything will run smoothly, but don’t give up! The next person you meet could be the one. Personally, the apps I liked were Bumble and Hinge (both recently named in The Telegraph’s top 20 best online dating sites). Keep an open mind – don’t rule someone out because they don’t fit your ideal specifications. Be authentic, transparent and honest. Enjoy it!
GM: And, finally, how’s the search for love going?
Ian: Well, I met someone just before Christmas and we’ve had a few dates and it’s going really, really well. I’ve come off all the sites now. I might be back in a Glossy Mag wedding photoshoot very soon! (laughs).