Despite my best efforts, I have not yet lined up any more dates other than my last.
And by ‘best efforts’, I mean ‘I invited men who I thought were even marginally interesting to go out with me’. That number is not high, but it’s more than zero and is a huge departure from my normal process where I won’t meet anyone until I genuinely and absolutely think there is real potential. Dating immersion, yo!
When I suggested a meeting to one, he balked and it turns out that the app I’m using showed me as being closer to him than I am: I’m actually too far away for him to be interested in anything more than something casual. Okay then.
With another we exchanged a few (very) light notes, I asked him what he was looking for and added that if we were aligned we could perhaps meet this week: *crickets*.
And so it goes.
Since I’m not actually, you know, getting any DATES out of this, I thought I’d indulge in some analysis of what’s happening in my inbox.
Ooh, look, graph porn!
Below is what my inbox looks like by age group: 70% of my mail is from men 10 or more years younger than me, only 2% from men older.
As a public service to the older ladies out there, while I can’t vouch for the quality, if you are into casual hookups with REALLY young eager things, it seems that you’re in luck. They are swarming my inbox with ridiculous minimal-word emails.
I find the breakdown quite curious.
Most of the really young ones are clearly just after casual sex (and some rather politely ask outright if I’m interested in a casual hookup with a younger man), so if that’s your thing, it’s pretty much on tap (I’m going to add the caveat here that I’ve not actually taken up any of these offers, so have no opinion on whether these eager young things are all talk or not).
As for the lack of men over 45 (that is ‘around my age’), either there just aren’t as many on the dating site overall or I think it’s pretty likely that many of them have filtered me out of searches by age because they are looking for younger women.
I was curious to see the breakdown of number of messages by word length (1 & 6 word messages are popular), and also whether there was a correlation between the length of messages and the sender’s age (there wasn’t). Despite the fact that 16+ words looks like the biggest category, overall it’s about 25% and only a couple of those have been thoughtful conversation starters that referenced anything that I put out there (unsurprisingly, my first vanilla date was with one of those).
[click to see larger version]
This is the number of words broken down by age in graphical form. I’ll admit that I’d have expected (and hoped) to see a pretty clear trend that showed that as they got older, they were better at using their words. But nope. It seems to be a pretty random spread.
After talking about introductory emails, I’ll add that I have initiated some contacts also based on great profiles and appealing pictures. Not a lot because honestly, most profiles scream ‘I’M FUCKING DULL, I LIKE BEER AND SPORT AND MY MATES, HAVE A BIT O’ THIS ACTION LADIEEZZZ LOL’. None of those I have contacted have gone anywhere past a few back and forths. It’s not all one sided, you know.
On a different note, I’m going to add this because I find it both interesting and a little depressing:
On the vanilla site, at worst, I get a lot of dull emails that consist of less than ten words.
On the BDSM site, I get a lot of those also, but I also get men telling me explicitly and in gross detail what I should do to them (let me be clear that I don’t get a lot of those, but I’m talking about the WORST I get).
I think that because vanilla men are just dealing with ‘a woman’ on a dating site, they know how to behave because hell, they do that all day every day out in the world. Because submissive men are dealing with ‘a Domme’, some of them have carefully smoothed an impenetrable layer of ‘not a real human woman’ on top and therefore think that normal socially acceptable behaviour no longer applies.
In short: my vanilla dating inbox is a lot less unpleasant than my BDSM one. Sad, but true.
Trying to date takes up all of my writerly energy (not even dating, just trying to date).
I’m not sure why that is really.
It’s not like I’m spending hours a day thinking up witty replies to stellar messages. Most of the emails that land in my inbox are about the same level of lame one liner as I’ve already mentioned in this post. I’m not even bothering to reply to those.
I did indeed ask my last vanilla date if he wanted to have a kissing date:
“Thanks so much for coming to meet me. Who knew a beard could be so useful :).
I don’t think we’re a good relationship match, but I really like the way you kiss.
Would you consider talking about a no-strings post-beard kissing date (I know you don’t know what that is, hence the ‘talking about it’ bit :))?”
“Hmmm, I’ll consider it..
Of course, sure!
I miss kissing, and you’re good at it.
Will it happen? I have no idea.
He was hoping to meet a woman who had a thing for beards, so that means a delay on the beard-butchery. We’ve had a few text exchanges since, he invited me out for a walk on the beach with his dog (aw sweet), I said I’d hold out for the kissing date thankyouverymuch. But my interest in that is slipping away as time goes on, so if it doesn’t happen soon, it won’t happen at all.
His introductory email was thoughtful and articulate. He’d not only read my profile, but he had also looked through my many Q&A responses and his note referenced both.
He was 6’2, a little younger than me, no photos.
I suggested we meet after a few exchanges. This must be a new record for me. My new strategy: ‘Dating immersion’. I didn’t ask for a photo. To be honest, I forgot.
He was nervous he said (I do love it when they say that out loud, I do), and half an hour before our date he texted that he was going to be about 15 minutes late: “Pls wait for me?”
I was liking him more and more.
I knew he was tall, had a beard, blue eyes, that his hair needed a trim. He described his body type as ‘average’.
I was worried that I didn’t know how to do vanilla dating any more. “Go and get me some water please” is not the flirty request to vanilla men that it is to submissive men. I vaguely worried about how we would connect.
I was there first, sent him a photo to show him what I was wearing so he could find me more easily. When he approached me, the first thing I saw was his beard. I’m not one for beards, and he had said in an email that he didn’t like his beard and was intending to remove it. I had expected that someone who didn’t like his beard would have maybe a month’s growth. But no, it was a *serious* beard. 8 months worth, he told me later. He suggested it was like the beard of a pirate, or bush ranger (as a note, I thought this photo was a hoax: nope. Checkit: Ned Kelly, the original hipster). The latter. definitely the latter. He had pretty eyes though, bright blue.
We spent 3 hours together and despite the discovery that we had both worked for the same small software company way back when, and had work acquaintances in common, I struggled to make a connection with him. His eyes skittered away when I was talking, he didn’t laugh or smile at things I thought were funny, and if I was quiet to see if he would pick up the conversation, he didn’t. I don’t think it’s because he wasn’t engaged and trying, he was just shy and awkward.
In short: it was hard work.
It was clear that he liked me, that he was trying. But it was also clear that we were struggling.
In the last half hour, I brought up D/s. He’d seen my references to dominance in my online profile only that morning, he said. I’ve not had much experience explaining it to vanilla men, but I used ‘selfishness’ to explain it. I could have gone many ways, but I didn’t want to ‘sell’ the idea to him. If anything, I wanted to scare him off. It’s too easy to present it in a hot-sexy-romantic light, but the harsh reality is that I want to be selfish and for my partner to appreciate that I expect to get my way and to enjoy taking opportunities to make me happy. ‘Selfishness’ and ‘unfairness’ are the easiest ways to explain that.
He started to say ‘Oh, that’s why my previous partners…’ which broke my heart a little. I was insistent that it wasn’t the same thing. That being selfish in a vanilla relationship where nothing is agreed is just being an arsehole.
He was curious, surprised that there was more than ‘bedroom stuff’. Not turned off, but also not really getting it (of course not!). But after we talked about it, he seemed contemplative in a ‘maybe I could’ kind of way. But to be honest, my experience is that men who like me will say things like that. Soon after, he went to a lot of trouble to get a chair for me to put my bag on because it was getting wet where it was. “To show you I can do it,” he said. He’s sweet.
Before we parted ways, I grabbed him by the beard and pulled him towards me across the table. He resisted.
I said, “Come here.”
I kissed him. Drew him forward twice more with his beard in my clenched fist. Soft, exploratory kisses, lightly dancing tongues. He smiled at me. He has a lovely smile.
“I’m going to go,” I said.
He stood up to follow me out.
The first time I got to see his height. I was wearing wedge heels. He was still a bit taller than me. I do love that.
Outside we looked at each other. I grabbed his beard again, twisted it, pulled his face to me. More kissing. Holding him back by his beard when he reached for me. His slight confusion when I did this was lovely. He reached to pull my body against him. I like it when men do that. It’s instinct, that desire for more contact. Makes me feel snake-like and fluid.
He sent me a sweet text about an hour after he left (seriously, polite boys: so good!). In part it said:
“I have this great picture you sent (I think you’re gorgeous) and pleasant memory of the too short/few kisses… Let me know if you want to meet again, post beard, or wish to give me casual instruction in your lifestyle ;)”
So, all up, I liked him well enough, I think he *would* be cute underneath his beard, he was a lovely kisser, and he’s willing to consider D/s. BUT (there’s always a ‘but’) he’s only one month out of his last relationship, I don’t *really* think D/s is going to be for him, and we didn’t have that easy conversational banter that makes for connection.
I’m tempted to suggest a kissing date because his kissing had promise, and you know I’m a complete sucker for kissing. I’ll have a think about that.
If nothing else, putting a profile up on a vanilla dating site allows me the luxury of realising that online dating is online dating and the ratio of ‘oh FFS’ to ‘well, hello!’ in my inbox is probably going to be much the same as kink sites at about 1000 to 1.
I’ve not put anything about D/s in my profile, though there is a hint there for someone who might pick it up, but the site has Q&A for their matching algorithm and I’ve been completely forthright in the very explicit questions that are asked there (e.g. “Would you consider a master/slave relationship” is one of the questions).
I have a relatively short profile in which I *specifically* state that I’m not going to reply to one liners because the lack of creativity is an excellent indicator that we aren’t going to be compatible. Also, life’s too short.
Unsurprisingly, my inbox is still a hotbed of one liners from men throwing mindless words into the void to see what sticks: Men in their early twenties interested in casual hookups (at least they’re up-front about it), and more mature men who apparently can’t read. Allow me to share some of them for your reading pleasure.
“G’day I’m James how are you?”
“Good morning there how are you”
“hiiiii good morning :)”
“What’s up beautiful you into young men?”
“Let’s hook up”
“Hi how are you in John x”
“love your photos”
“Hi how u going on here?”
“interested in casual encounters with someone younger?”
I’m playing a game on twitter at the moment to amuse myself. I call it “Guess his age”. I post the one line messages and invite people to guess how old the author is. I’m surprisingly bad at it and clearly make the mistake of assuming that age increases a man’s ability to initiate a conversation.
I’ve sent out one note to a younger man who has cute photos, a really funny profile and a good match percentage, and I have exchanged a few emails with another more mature man who read both my profile and my Q&A and sent a really thoughtful first email.
So not throwing in the towel on this experiment just yet, just sorting the chaff from the wheat.
There are a number of vanilla blogs* I read, written by women of 40+ who are single and dating. Sex bloggers. Good ones. And by that I mean that they write well, are smart, funny, open, honest and raw.
There is a hugely stark contrast between all of them and me in that they are all prolific daters, are on multiple dating sites, are very sex-focussed, are delighted to have casual sex/open to late night booty calls/will happily have sex with men at first meeting.
I am envious of their freedom and their enjoyment of sex just for the physical pleasure of it. I often wish I was wired differently and could do the same.
There are three reasons I can’t.
The first is obvious: My introversion means that dating is a trial to be endured, so it’s not fun for me. That means that each time I agree to meet someone, it’s a Big Deal, and I don’t do it unless I think there’s something worth pursuing.
The second is that my sexual response is difficult to trigger. I don’t seem to have a drive or need for sex that operates independent of external stimulus: that is, when I’m not aiming my sexual energy at someone in particular, it essentially goes into hibernation. What works for me is to have a target who inspires that feeling, who hits my buttons just right. And how that fires up is complex and touchy and takes real connection.
The third is that casual sex with random men leaves me feeling used and devalued. It relates to both of the above since it’s ‘work’ to meet someone in the first place, and he’s unlikely to be able to press the buttons that rev me up unless we have developed a strong connection first. My (limited) experience with casual sex has been dissatisfying both on the ‘sex’ part and on the ‘how I feel about it/myself/him afterwards’ part.
I think a lot of this comes from the tediousness of being an object of desire in my younger years (the emphasis there is on ‘object’): I learnt very early that most men’s primary objective in any interaction with me was to get into my pants. Having sex never felt like something wonderful that was about our mutual pleasure, it felt like ‘giving in’ (because men would be angling at it from the start): it felt horrible and dehumanising and I would NEVER ‘give in’.
My dominant roots, I think, were in realising the power of saying ‘no’. Rather than turning men off, denial made them more interested, compliant, and eager to please. Go figure.
But what it means for *now* is that I’ve internalised all of those things, so dating for ‘fun’ and casual sex as ‘even more fun’ are completely foreign concepts in my mind. This is true even though I now have the confidence and maturity to make sure that I get what I want in casual encounters (and no doubt most mature men genuinely WANT to give their partner pleasure).
I’m tempted to move WAY outside my comfort zone, post a vanilla profile on a vanilla dating site and force myself to go on dates with nice vanilla men who seem lovely ‘just for fun’ (okay, fine, it wouldn’t be fun exactly, but maybe I would learn to see it as less of a trial). I doubt that casual sex is ever going to be on the cards for me, but I’m curious whether immersion in dating can get me over my aversion. Also who knows what amazing gems I might find. Yes, even in the vanilla world.
*There are many, but the sex blogs I was thinking of specifically are these:
And that’s it for beautiful lingerie-type things.
I used to love lingerie way back when, but at some point I lost interest. Not because I don’t think it’s pretty and sexy, but because somehow it just became… impractical and too expensive and hard to justify.
Which it is, really.
But still, it sounds (even to me) like a terrible shame.
Most beautiful lingerie is expensive and impossible under the type of clothes I typically wear. My strappy summer dresses, sarongs, tank tops, light floaty things demand invisible panty lines and cross-over bras that can be hidden under thin straps. So I can’t actually wear the beautiful things unless I’m specifically putting it on just for the sake of it, for effect, either for myself or for someone else. And while that can be really fun and awesome, I can come up with a lot more practical things to spend that kind of money on.
If I can put it on under something I’m actually wearing for it to be revealed sometime later, that absolutely works for me. But it really does mean that I can only do that in winter, when the secret pretty things can be worn under the full coverage of warm layers.
Nevertheless, the other day I went and tried on pretty bras: black (always black), all intricate lace and barely-there delicacy. So tempting, but oh so impractical.
The one pictured above was one of my favourites. I didn’t buy it for all of the reasons I’ve just talked about.
Perhaps I just need a lingerie slave so that expense and impracticality become irrelevant in the face of such gifts. Is there such a thing? Of course there is. Apply within.