“Surely you want to grow old with someone”

“ Surely you want to grow old with someone ” he said.

“I do” I replied, “but I have a whole lifetime ahead of me to grow old.”

I had another disastrous date the other night.  Well perhaps it wasn’t disastrous and perhaps it wasn’t even a date. I met a guy for a drink.  We met at 10:30pm at Waterloo.  We walked along London’s Southbank.  We stopped at a bar.  He had a diet coke.  I had a glass of wine.  We then walked back along London’s Southbank.  He jumped in a taxi and I got the train. 

He was a bit weird, but I quite like weird.  He was super intelligent, but I like super intelligent.  He was more than a bit geeky, but I quite like that too. 

He was also French and I go weak at the knees for French men. 

Now the slightly sad thing about Tinder-style dating encounters is that fairly early on in your meeting or date, you will probably have a conversation about why you are on said dating app and what you are looking for. 

I met this guy on Bumble which is like Tinder but apparently “changes the rules of dating by putting women in charge”.    

It doesn’t change the rules that much and the same old conversation ensued.

We established that neither of us really wanted a relationship.  I explained that work, being a single mum and life in general leave me very little time and I don’t feel that I have time to nurture a relationship.  I didn’t go into the detailed description of my life being three planets being held apart by delicate magnetic fields, but that is what I was talking about.

I also explained that one night stands are not my thing.  I told him that I had never had a one night stand.  This is not entirely true.  I did have a one night stand many years ago.  It was terrible and I don’t intend to repeat it. 

I explained that I would like someone to meet up with for a drink.  I want friendship.  I want the occasional theatre and cinema companion.  I want to spend some time with someone with whom I can have an interesting conversation.  I would like to meet someone with whom I can occasionally have sex.   

He nodded giving me the impression that “friends with benefits”,  which I think is the correct term for the above, was also what he was after.   

But, after our date that wasn’t even a date he blocked me on whatsapp.   So, I am guessing that he didn’t want “friends with benefits” after all.

There was one comment he made during our non-date that I have been reflecting on since.  He said “surely you want to grow old with someone”.  I replied that “I do want to grow old with someone, but I have a whole lifetime ahead of me to grow old.’ 

I have already written about how being a single mum has made me a commitment-phobe.  But the idea of growing old with someone and companionship in my old age is important. 

I listened to a wonderful podcast the other day about a 70 year old woman (Eve) and an 80 year old man (Sam) who met and married each other late in life.  Eve, telling her story after Sam’s death, told of the excitement of when they first met when she was nearing 70 and he 80, of their courtship, of their joint 150th birthday party to celebrate his 80th and her 70th. 

grow old with someone

Eve recounted a conversation with her new amour about his late wife who had died six years before they met. “I know you love Betty and that you will always love Betty, but I think you have room in your heart for me too”. Eve bought her new husband flowers on the anniversary of his late wife’s death.  There was no competition nor rivalry, just love, respect for the life that the other had had and a tender appreciation of the other’s feelings.

Eve had been married twice before and was twice divorced.  She observed that their love was tender because they each knew who they were, their history had taught them what was important.  Status, pretension, ego, aggression and rivalry had gone and what was left was the space for love.

As I listened to this story of love close to the metaphorical finish line I pondered the question posed by my non-date the other night. I concluded that yes I probably do want to grow old with someone, but I have a lifetime to grow old, life is good and, for now, I am a long way from the finish line. 

You can listen to the New York Times Modern Love podcast episode The Race grows sweeter near its final lap here. 


  1. September 11, 2016 / 8:56 am

    This was a really thought provoking post. ‘Pen’. I love the story you share about Eve, really special.

    I do hope you find that someone to grow old with, the one who makes all of the other worries, concerns and challenges of life (and dating) fall away…A kindred spirit. A soul mate.

    Thanks for linking #KCACOLS
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    • thesingleswan
      September 12, 2016 / 8:41 pm

      Hi, thanks for your comment and I am glad you enjoyed Eve’s story as much as I did. Pen x

  2. September 12, 2016 / 6:16 am

    The story of Eve and Sam is lovely, the probably have a healthier relationship than most people who meet young! #kcacols
    Claire recently posted…It’s ok…007 #mumguiltMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      September 12, 2016 / 8:39 pm

      HI Claire,

      I am absolutely sure that they have a healthier relationship than people who meet young. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  3. September 12, 2016 / 8:38 am

    I’m still toying with the idea of online dating but it just seems like such a lot of hard work! I definitely fall into the trap of feeling like I am ‘getting too old’ but this story helps to remind me that there’s no such thing really and actually, the older you get the less likely you are to encounter ego and game-playing (hopefully!). I really hope the story of Eve and Sam isn’t a bizarre anomaly!
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    • thesingleswan
      September 12, 2016 / 8:38 pm

      Hi Sam,

      I hope that the story of Eve and Sam is not a bizarre anomaly too. Fingers crossed hey. Pen x

  4. September 12, 2016 / 9:31 am

    Online dating terrifies me to be honest, I don’t know if I could be brave enough for it. I have a friend that’s had a lot of experience with it and has had some real disasters, there are some very odd people out there! x #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      September 12, 2016 / 8:37 pm

      Haha, yes there are some very odd people out there – trust me! Pen x

  5. September 13, 2016 / 7:42 pm

    OMG, I’m all misty about Eve and Sam’s story! I love the stories about people finding their love late in life. But, as someone who got (happily) married at 25, I also love the stories of folks who found their other half earlier in life and got to grow and expand and evolve with their best friend.
    Of course, I’m biased to my experience **for me,** but I certainly understand and respect that it is not everybody’s cup of tea, let alone their destiny, if even such a thing exists.
    Truthfully, I’m still surprised that my life took this path. I had been engaged to a total twat when I was 20, and of course he cheated on me, leaving me alone to cancel a wedding. Then, out of the blue, my best friend from junior high and high school called me. We had lost touch for a year when he moved across the country with his own cheating fiancee, but one day, after his relationship crumbled, he called and said, “So, I think we should date.” And I was adamantly against, saying, “Why would you want to ruin our friendship?” And he said, “What if it doesn’t ruin it? What if it makes it something unexpectedly brilliant?” And so I agreed, and then… yeah. We are now a matter of days away from our 7th wedding anniversary, and I can’t imagine any life more happy than the one I share with my honest-to-goodness favorite person in the world.
    That being said: That. Was. Not. My. Plan. After Twat McCheaterPants, I was convinced I would stay single for several years, then date the “one” for several more years, and only marry him after several more years of ensuring that this time was right. I, like you, thought, “I have a life time ahead of me to grow old with someone.” But then Chris changed that story for me.
    I say this not to be like, “Oh, look! I have a great marriage! And I was just like you once! So, don’t give up hope! You, too, can have my life!” That’d be bullshit. My comment, truly, is meant more like, “Love is different for everybody. I thought it would work one way for me, and it worked out the other way instead. You thought it would work out one way, and now you’re on a different path. And the underlying truth is that love can’t be known, and we all have to follow our specific paths, and there is no one right way to travel when it comes to love.”
    Sorry. I’m rambling. Lots of coffee. But, truly, this post touched me. As usual, great provoking piece, Pen.
    Bekah Rigby recently posted…I Found A Plastic Eggplant On The Highway (So, Yeah, This Is A Post About Penises)…My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      September 13, 2016 / 9:49 pm

      My post touched you? Your comment is probably the most profound I have ever read: “love can’t be known, and there is no right way to travel when it comes to love”. Have you tried your hand at writing song lyrics for boybands, or words for teen literature? We need to get your wisdom into the minds of our youth so that they don’t feel like a failure because they think they have ‘fucked up’ in love. Always a pleasure to see you on my blog. COME BACK AND IMPART YOUR WORDS OF WISDOM IN MY COMMENTS AGAIN SOON. Pretty please. Pen xx

  6. September 13, 2016 / 9:02 pm

    I hope you find what you’re looking for in your online dating quest. Love the story of Sam and Eve. Very touching #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      September 13, 2016 / 9:44 pm

      thank you! Pen x

  7. September 14, 2016 / 10:28 am

    I don’t want to re-iterate what you said in your three planet post, because it made a lot sense and it’s true to many people.
    A relationship, in many ways should be effortless and it should grow.
    It’s obvious that for the time being you haven’t met anyone and there is nothing wrong to wait so you can nurture your child KCACOLS
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    • thesingleswan
      September 15, 2016 / 7:53 pm

      Hi Alex,

      thanks for your comment. Pen x

  8. September 14, 2016 / 11:33 am

    You’ve hit the nail on the head for me here again, Pen: I used to be in such a rush to meet someone just because the thought of being alone scared me so much. But now I know how lovely it is to be in your own company (and what little time work/single parenting leaves for relationships) I’m in no rush. I definitely want to grow old with someone but they will need to be the right someone, and I’m in no hurry to push their arrival.

    Also: NYT’s Modern Love section is one of my favourite things about the internet. Ax
    Alice recently posted…A #ThankGoodness Optiwell Treat: Win a £350 Luxury Hotel BreakMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      September 15, 2016 / 7:51 pm

      Hi Alice,

      I too love NYT’s Modern Love section. I listen most days on my way to work. I lose myself on my own little world on the train everyday. It’s great. thanks for your comment. Pen x

  9. September 14, 2016 / 1:25 pm

    I do like stories of people who come together later in life. My grandad had a twilight romance. She was an awful witch to us, but I’m sure he was happy! 😉 You’re right about waiting though, fools rush in. #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      September 15, 2016 / 7:50 pm

      Hi Sarah,

      This sounds intriguing. Pen x

  10. September 14, 2016 / 5:53 pm

    This is lovely. There is no point in settling for second best.

    • thesingleswan
      September 15, 2016 / 7:49 pm

      Ah yes, I totally agree. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  11. September 14, 2016 / 8:21 pm

    Eve and Sam’s story is so lovely, and I love your comments on it, about how there was no room for anything other than love in their relationship, and I think that is a very true point about relationships that take place later in life. x #KCACOLS
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    • thesingleswan
      September 15, 2016 / 7:48 pm

      Hi Madeline,

      I am glad you like Eve and Sam’s story – I fell in love with it. It really touched me. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  12. September 16, 2016 / 9:35 am

    Says it all to block you without politely saying something first and saying he was looking for more. Anyway, as you say, you’re in no rush so….why rush??

    • thesingleswan
      September 17, 2016 / 9:38 pm

      Indeed! Thank you for your comment. Pen x

  13. September 19, 2016 / 9:32 pm

    Loved this post. The Tinder / Bumble dating scene sounds a bit scary if I’m honest but I understand why you’re choosing not to have a relationship. I also loved the story of Eve and Sam. #TheTruthAbout
    Mel recently posted…A MAD End of the WeekMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      September 20, 2016 / 9:29 pm

      Hi Mel,

      yes, the Eve and Sam story really is heartwarming. You really should listen to the podcast if you haven’t already. Pen x

  14. October 27, 2016 / 9:37 pm

    I always enjoy reading your posts and I am a little bit in awe that you have managed to date again after having such a nightmare with your ex. I’m not sure how to feel about my own situation though, as when I think about dating I just feel sad. I truly believe that I may just be happier on my own as I’m very happy normally when I’m not thinking about the idea of trying to meet someone! I would say I think I’ve become a bit jaded by the dating scene but I think maybe I just always have been. It just feels like a very difficult thing, and I’m just happier not thinking about it to be honest!
    Min recently posted…Single Mum Reviews: Mathmos Lava LampMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      October 28, 2016 / 7:49 pm


      The dating scene is a depressing place. I can totally understand why you feel jaded. I’d advise you not to bother to be honest. I am also very happy on my own. The odd bit of dating does make for a good blog post though – not that I would ever tell any of my dates this. Pen x

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