Dating Diary 17. Are You Damaged Goods If You're A Second-Time-Around Dater In Your 50s?

Louisa Whitehead-Payne, High50's dating columnist, was dating two men simultaneously. Unhappy with the situation, she has dumped her millionaire by text which, surprisingly, went quite well, leaving her free to focus.

Deed done, conscience clear, I am no longer sleeping with two men and arrive for the weekend with the Delightful Dick (who I met online a few weeks ago), who lives very near the town where I grew up in Somerset.

He lives on a hill in a barn conversion, and he has always lived in this part of the world. His previous businesses were located near where I spent my childhood so it will be lovely to be back in my original neck of the woods.

The barn is smaller than I was expecting, but immaculately done up and in a lovely part of the countryside. He is cooking me his signature dish: crab risotto. Local crabs from Nailsea; home-made stock ... impressively delicious and we have a chatty dinner about growing up in Weston-Super-Mare.

One Degree Of Separation

A huge surprise is that he knew my dad. My late father's law practice was in the same building as his first business. And they regularly argued over the parking spaces. His best friend's parents were at my wedding and his sister is great friends with my cousin. You couldn't make it up.

I have sourced a man on the Internet and he knows my family. It's reassuring actually, as men on the Internet have no context, no hinterland. No one to tell you anything about them. I am one degree of separation away from checking him out.

If you can be reassured and unnerved simultaneously, then I guess I am.

And then it is bedtime. I have a theory that men are a lot hornier in their own beds. The Muddy Farmer and I always had much better sex at his house. I don't know whether it's because their bedrooms are where they have fantasized, or some caveman thing. It would be a great PhD thesis for someone. Whatever works, I say.

The Delightful Dick

This time there is no sulking whatsoever on the part of the temperamental member. And I can concentrate properly for the first time. It is rather splendid size and shape-wise. Well I never. No irony any more about the Delightful Dick, then. We both sleep like babies. Must have been the carbs in the risotto.

For Saturday lunch, we arrive at Babington House, the country outpost of the Soho House group. He goes as white as a sheet and declares that his ex-girlfriend's car is in the car park. He seems so unnerved that I really wonder how much of an ex she actually is. We agree he will go in without me, say hello to her and explain he is with a date.

Naturally I am on pins to check her out, but am thwarted by the seating arrangements where I am treated to a view of the back of her head. Other than that, Gail is short and ginger and I am none the wiser. He talks about her so much over the lunch and for the rest of the weekend that I am convinced that he is still crazy about her.

Old Flame Obsession?

Another very good night passes, but ruddy Ginger Gail is still a major topic of conversation. On a stroll round the village, I confront him and ask if he still loves her. Thankfully, he is shocked at the question, and says that he isn't, but wants to be honest and open with me about his past relationships. That he really liked her a lot and found being dumped hard to take.

She was the only girl he dated who finished it with him rather than the other way round. I ask him whether they were good in bed together and he tells me yes, but she could only orgasm with a vibrator. Ha! Well, it's Louisa 1, Ginger Gail 0 and not only in the height department.

I haven't really got into his marriage and what went wrong there, but of course I will need to know. One for another day. This weekend has all been about old families and old flames.

Men take rejection much harder than women. The Muddy Farmer hadn't got over it five years on, and here again is a guy that is badly affected not only by his wife leaving him, but a lady walking away after a relationship of only a few months.

If you are back on the market in your 50s, you are damaged. And you have to accept that, but take a view as to whether the damage is fatal ... or not. And with this one, I am really not at all sure.

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