A feminist’s take on a decade of dating

I have just re-entered the dating scene after seven years. And it has changed. In fact it had changed last time I re-entered the dating scene after a four year relationship.

When I say things have changed, I don’t mean that the basics have changed. The basics will always be the same.  Man seeks woman, woman seeks man, man seeks man, woman seeks woman, or I guess variants thereof.

What has changed are the ways in which you can meet that random stranger. Unfortunately, I don’t think these changes are for the better.  The feminist in me is very sad about the evolution of the dating scene over the last decade.

11 years ago…

In 2004, my friend and I went speed-dating.  You don’t hear much about speed-dating these days.  As a dating methodology it is very last decade. There are variants of speed dating still out there, like shush dating for example.  There is also the fact that corporations and businesses have stolen and perverted the concept to create speed-networking. ‘Have 3 minute chats with people who could further your career‘ kind of takes the appeal away from speed dating for pleasure doesn’t it? 

Now speed-dating hardly lives up to Feminism’s high standards – in fact far from it. My friend and I stayed in our seats for the evening, whilst the men rotated every three minutes (men, like sperm move, women stay still, men are the movers and shakers, women, well, they just aren’t).  Three minutes hardly allows much time for an assessment beyond ‘yes, (s)he’s hot and I’d like to sleep with him/her’, but at least there is a requisite 2 mins and 57 seconds more of conversation before you tick, or cross, and move on. 30 men/women in 90 minutes, with a much needed 20 minute interval, you have to admit is incredibly efficient.  I did actually meet someone that night and we had a fun-packed four year relationship – those were the days when I was footloose and fancy free.

7 years ago…

My next foray into the world of dating was about seven years ago.  By this time speed dating was very much on the decline and the phenomenon of online dating was up there.  I had a profile on mysinglefriend.com.  My friend, a different one to the one who came speed dating with me four years previous, and I wrote each other’s profiles and watched the ‘likes’ come in.  The nice thing about mysinglefriend is that your friend writes about 500 words about you.  An appraisal if you like. I guess the concept is not that different from matchmyex.com just without the underlying bitterness.  If you pay about £10 a month (these are 2007-2008 prices I am not sure how much it costs these days) you can then converse with your matches (people who like you and who you like back) .



In the end I went on four mysinglefriend dates. None of them led anywhere.  I did go on a second date with one guy, but to be honest, on that second date, I think I realised that I’d probably had too much to drink on my first date. I shouldn’t have kissed him. I didn’t find him attractive and he didn’t really have any interesting conversation (beer goggles, or in my case the wine goggles are quite dangerous you know!)

There was one guy who, in the email conversation beforehand, showed a lot of promise.  I had told him that I liked drinking tea and that I had booked a trip to Iran. It was a guided tour in a group of eight and I was planning to see all of the sights.  He suggested we meet for an afternoon tea and then take a visit to the Iran exhibition that was then on at the British Museum. Oh my God, I thought I’d met my life partner; someone who liked tea and culture. 

We met outside the British Museum.  I knew instantly that I didn’t fancy him.  He probably felt the same.  He had a dog, not with him, but he was a dog owner. I am very allergic to dogs and that day I was more than a little bit allergic to him.  I nipped off to the toilets to use my inhaler for the asthma and to take some antihistamine for the red eyes and irritable nose. We went into the exhibition.

I am not usually the kind of person who reads every single information board in an exhibition. I am quite a visual person, I relate more to pictures than to words. But I was really interested in this exhibition. I had bought my ticket to Iran and had about five weeks before I was due to go.  I was mega excited that I would soon see the places first hand that were exhibited in the British Museum. 

But, I had this annoying, allergy inducing, moaning stranger next to me.  He was annoyed that I was going too slowly round the exhibition. He asked if we could speed up. I am nothing if not cantankerous and slowed down further; I read each information board twice. He eventually suggested we sack off the exhibition and go and get a pint (not even the afternoon tea that we had agreed to!)  I declined and stayed in the exhibition while he left. 

The advantage of dating is that you get to tell stories about your disaster dates. I have a story about a date to whom I was actually allergic.  He has a story about a date who was uptight and geeky. One all I reckon. We are both winners. 

About 4 minutes ago…

Re-entering the dating scene in 2015 and as a single mother in her mid-30s is a little bit tricky to be honest.  What do I want? At which point do I say that I am a single mother? Which dating sites or apps do I use? 

So, first things first: what do I want?

Well, I do know that I am not ready for a relationship.  The last one was stressful enough and is still stressful because although we are not in a romantic relationship we are in a co-parenting one and that my friends is a bundle of laughs … not!

I also know that I am not a one night stand kind of girl.  I am a single mother with scar tissue and haemorrhoids (this is why this blog has to remain anonymous!)  I take my hat off to people who enjoy sex with strangers. It probably makes life a whole lot simpler in the long run, provided you use adequate protection. It isn’t me though. 

So, where does that leave me? Probably looking for someone who likes afternoon tea and exhibitions to be honest, oh and who doesn’t mind fitting into some very limited free time slots when I am neither working nor looking after my son.  This doesn’t make for an appealing dating profile to write!

Fortunately, the dating world has moved on and you don’t even need to write anything anymore.  Apps like Tinder and Bumble allow you just to put up a few photos, the text is both limited and optional. 

You’ll have heard of Tinder.  It is trying to shake its image of being the hook-up app for those wanting one night stands.  It isn’t working in my view.  I have had a man ask me whether I want to be his sex toy and another asking whether I like c**k.  Fortunately, it is quite easy to unmatch people. 

Unmatching on Tinder

Unmatching on Tinder

I have recently signed up to Bumble.  Bumble has been branded the Feminist Tinder, but I doubt many hardline Feminists would agree!  Bumble is different to Tinder because men are not allowed to message women.  Women have to message first and have twenty four hours to do so.  No offers of c**k on Bumble, not as an opening gambit anyway.  I quite like this.  Women can message first on Tinder, but there is some unwritten Tinder etiquette that dictates that men message first.  I personally prefer Bumble because for some reason, I find the men more attractive (ok, so I am not that Feminist after all).

Aside from women having to message first on Bumble the apps are very similar.  On both you swipe left if you are not interested, right if you are.  A few words of caution for using both apps, particularly if you are flitting simultaneously between the two:

  • To see more photos on Bumble you swipe upwards.  Sliding upwards on Tinder means ‘super-like’  – eek! … unmatch…breathe a sigh of relief. 
  • Some people don’t take things that seriously…  Check out a prospective date on Tinder.
The Tinder Hedgehog

The Tinder Hedgehog

  • You can waste hours and hours and hours swiping left again and again and again and again.  I am quite convinced that you can get repetitive strain injury from dating apps. I swiped left so many times on Bumble the other night that, to my embarrassment, this happened:
Bumble: Looks like you're out of people... Oh the shame!

Bumble: Looks like you’re out of people…
Oh the shame!

Do you have any tips for single mums dating in 2015?

How did you meet your partners?  I love to hear a good dating success story.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Best of Worst
My Random Musings
And then the fun began...

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


  1. October 22, 2015 / 9:17 pm

    Your British museum story made me chuckle. I’ve heard mixed stories about Guardian Soulmates – perhaps worth a look? Apparently it can be quite good if you are looking for culture-y dates.

    My friend who’s a single mum met her current boyfriend on Tinder and they are now happily living together. But she did suffer through some pretty horrific dates with other people first (not to mention all the dull and/or sex-crazed opening gambits from people she didn’t meet up with).

    Good luck anyway, and like you say at least the crap dates will make great stories. All good blog fuel!

    Ella x
    Ella @ breaking up with contraception recently posted…The secret history of your CVMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 24, 2015 / 8:51 am

      Hmmm, now that’s an idea. I might give Guardian Soulmates a go. I don’t know anyone who has ever tried Guardian soulmates.

      As you say, it is all good blog fuel. Thanks for the comment x

  2. October 23, 2015 / 6:56 am

    Wow what a minefield! Tinder and Bumble are like different worlds – I wouldn’t know where to start! The speed dating thing made me laugh though – I never went but I was in a bar once when they were doing an event and the bell kept ringing to move people on – it was like a conveyor belt! Good luck with the dating – hope you don’t run out of people again 😉 #bestandworst
    Becky (And Then There Were Two) recently posted…My Italian KitchenMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 24, 2015 / 8:46 am

      Hi, I have to say that dating is exhausting. Speed dating is exhausting and Tinder and Bumble easily enable you to waste a couple of hours in an evening. If you see my blogging outputs decline it is not because I am actually out dating, I am just busy swiping left. Thanks for your comment.

    • thesingleswan
      October 24, 2015 / 8:45 am

      THanks! Yep, I suspect that this will provide loads of blogging material if nothing else. Watch this space!

  3. October 23, 2015 / 1:05 pm

    It seems a shame that dating has become so difficult! Gone are the days of eyeing someone up over the bar, on the bus or in the library. I met my husband at his 21st birthday party. I wasn’t invited. We hit it off – in which I mean we were both incredibly drunk and snogged the night away. 17 years later and two children we still manage to get on. I’d hate to have to join in with dating now but I do enjoy reading everybody else’s efforts!
    MrsM @oldpoyntz recently posted…The Writing Rant.My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 24, 2015 / 8:42 am

      Ah, that’s a great story! I bet you were glad you gatecrashed that party. Rest assured, there are more dating stories in here. I can tell. Thanks for the comment.

  4. October 23, 2015 / 1:19 pm

    So interesting to hear how the internet has changed dating…if it’s any help, I do have several friends who have made wonderful relationships with people they met online – it seems like the best matches happen when people are honest with themselves and don’t settle. Look forward to hearing how it goes, and best of luck.
    Jennifer Wolfe recently posted…My Advice For People That Want To Work With ChildrenMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 24, 2015 / 8:40 am

      Hi Jennifer,

      THanks for your comment. I also know a few people who met online but now one set is going through a divorce. He left her about 2 months after a horrendous C-section – nice! Anyway, there isn’t a correlation between unsuccessful relationships and online dating, or at least I don’t there is. Be honest with myself and don’t settle – very good advice! thanks. x

  5. October 23, 2015 / 2:45 pm

    It’s a hard one isn’t it. Everyone I’ve met in the past has been through friends or work etc. I’m also thinking about dating now but don’t have a clue about how it all works especially as a single parent. Ah I went to the same BM exhibition with a group of friends who had also been on a group trip to Iran! If you ever fancy a BM visit & some tea (especially if there is cake involved) forget the men and just message me for a date instead 😀
    Our Seaside Baby recently posted…Wordless WednesdayMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 24, 2015 / 8:35 am

      Oooh, now that sound like a nice idea! I might just take you up on that offer. I am off to the Affordable Art Fair today. I collect my little one at 5:30.

      Re the dating. Let me know how it goes. I have to confess that I haven’t actually left my flat to go on a date yet. I have just been conversing online. So much easier. x

  6. October 24, 2015 / 4:18 pm

    I must admit I think of Tinder of a hook up app rather a serious dating site. I have friends who swear by Plenty of Fish bit in fairness most of them use it more as a social media site than a dating site!
    Love the museum story, probably wasn’t fun at the time, but as you said, it makes for a great story 🙂
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes
    Random Musings recently posted…My Top Five WebsitesMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 28, 2015 / 10:08 pm

      Hi Debbie,

      I have never heard of Plenty of Fish. I will have a look. thanks for your comment.x

  7. October 26, 2015 / 11:58 am

    I genuinely would not know what to do on the dating scene these days……honestly I would be awful! I suspect I would join a nunnery to avoid it! I really enjoyed reading this, thanks for sharing with the #bestandworst xx
    helen gandy recently posted…I Want my 7:30am (ish) Boy Back!My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 28, 2015 / 10:01 pm

      I hadn’t thought about a nunnery. I don’t believe in God so it probably wouldn’t work for me. I could set up a single mother and their kids commune. That could be a lot of fun I reckon. x

  8. October 28, 2015 / 10:55 pm

    I used Plenty of Fish few years ago and stayed with someone for a while. It was an absolute disaster! There are a lot of strange people out there. Some of the messages I used to get from various men were hilarious! I have opted out of online dating now. Actually, I’ve opted out of dating altogether for the time being. Work and children leave me very little time to add an extra person to my life. I hope that you are luckier than I have been in the online dating world (and that you don’t get too many photos of ‘man parts’ sent to you) 😉 #KCACOLS
    Bek Dillydrops recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – PumpkinsMy Profile

  9. October 29, 2015 / 3:28 am

    I really enjoyed the museum story. The internet has indeed changed the dating scene. Best of Luck!


    • thesingleswan
      November 1, 2015 / 10:37 pm

      thanks and glad you enjoyed the museum story. I can’t say I did much.

  10. October 29, 2015 / 6:14 am

    This is fascinating. You see I went thorough a divorce about 10 years ago having been in a very long term relationship (we had no children). I re-entered the dating scene and had no idea what was going on! The etiquette for sending text messages after a date instead of calling, how to use internet dating, how to approach women on interent dating sites (because it had all gone online in the intervening years)….oh it was all so different! Nonetheless, I had some great times. I have no advice but wish you the best of luck.
    JOhn Adams recently posted…Keeping the family home secureMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      November 1, 2015 / 10:36 pm

      goodness me John. Did I give the impression that it is anti-feminist to find men attractive? I hope not, because I don’t think it is. It just means that I find nice, decent, egalitarian men attractive.

      Thanks for your comment.

  11. October 29, 2015 / 7:19 am

    Wow sounds like you have been through a lot on the dating scene and being allergic to a date – i hope that didn’t ruin your day out at the Museum too much! I have not experienced the dating scene since i was a Teenager but just by reading your post it doesn’t sound like a positive experience! Good luck and i hope you find someone compatible soon. Thank your for linking up to #KCACOLS linky. I hope you come back next Sunday.

    • thesingleswan
      November 1, 2015 / 10:34 pm

      Hi Rachel,

      thanks for your comment. Dating is great blog fodder. Watch this space.

  12. November 3, 2015 / 9:42 pm

    You’d think that with the internet, dating would be easier in some ways?! It’s not! I’m in exactly the same situation as you…not a one night stand kind of girl, not sure I’m ready for a full blown relationship but ready to put myself back out there. To be honest though, for me it’s about time. Even Tinder chats need time and unfortunately as much as I’d like to go dating, I just can’t find the time. There’s another app called Happn (I think that’s how you spell it)…it’s meant to work with your location services turned on. So guys who are in your location come up on the app and you decide if you like them. Good luck with it all, let us know how you get on xx
    Natasha recently posted…Children and religionMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      November 3, 2015 / 11:30 pm

      Yes, I am not sure how I feel about happn. I don’t really like the idea of people being able to track my location like that (I know that Tinder provides an approximate location). We will see how things go. I haven’t actually met up with anyone yet. Yes, I agree though. Time is a big thing. I tend to hop on to Tinder in the evenings when Cignet is in bed. Great to hear from you. x

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