In my teens, I waited by the phone for a boy, any boy, to call. In my twenties it was all high drama, getting my heart broken and dating rotters. During my thirties, my biological clock meant I needed a partner if I wanted children. My forties were spent dealing with the romantic hangover of my thirties — divorce and being a single parent to small children. There is such a joy to being able to do whatever you want without permission. Her life was completely uncompromised and I can entirely relate to her contentment.
As a nutritionist and hypnotherapist, I see many fiftysomething women. They come to me because they want to lose their menopausal tummies. Yet, dig a little deeper, and what they really want to divest themselves of is the big lump in the armchair called their husband.
Their comfort eating and drinking is often a symptom of their unhappiness — but a fear of being alone stops them from tackling the real problem. I am lucky though. My mother is pretty self-sufficient, for now. My children are becoming more independent and this is my golden time. I can do as I please. I can be fabulously, unashamedly selfish. I can go on holiday when and where I want, I can eat the food I fancy and spend my money exactly as I please.
Of course, having three children, aged nine, 13 and 16, does clip my wings a bit. And indeed, concern for them is another important factor in why I am not flinging myself at the first available man. But, even if that were an option having teen children is a pretty good boyfriend repellent, I find , I am still very, very picky. Do we fancy fewer people as we get older?
Or maybe our patience for bad or boring behaviour is lessened by the ebbing of a biological need or ability to reproduce. There is such a joy to being able to do whatever you want without permission It certainly takes courage to be single in your fifties.
Those who remain married into their fifth decade can sometimes wear their marriage like a status symbol. But role models for a new normal are emerging. Thrice-married actress Kim Cattrall, who celebrated her 60th birthday this year, says of her single status: I feel in that area, romantically, retired. It promised to match me with my perfect partner. The only men who will answer your online dating ad will be over pension age.
If a younger man claims to prefer older women he is: Having a dog will not help you attract a partner as you may have been advised in your twenties.
However, it will link you up with many slightly mad dog-loving women of a certain age, who wear fleeces and are an absolute hoot.