Dating Diary 3: When Is a Date Not a Date, But Just Dinner?

This week High50's dating columnist, Louisa Whitehead-Payne gets an unexpected invitation for a 'coffee' and it sends her into a spin. He used to have the hots for her, but would he still?

A guy I worked with ages ago once told me that if I ever got tired of my husband he'd be right there. Mutual friends had told me Abe had had the hots for me for years.

Out of the blue, Abe messages me on LinkedIn. He is "very sorry" I have split up with Jon, and wonders if I would like cocktails or coffee soon. Is it an invitation for a date? Or just a kind note from and old pal?

Ten girlfriends assure me, given the context, that it's a definitely a date. Not one to presume, I send a cool reply that it would be nice to get together and don't commit either way on coffee or cocktails to flush him out on the date or not date question.

I am so obsessed with deconstructing every nuance of the six lines of correspondence that it's like being a ruddy teenager, decoding every syllable, agonising with girlfriends. Frankly, I feel a bit of a tit.

A Married Man And A Notorious Player

I have to tell you about Abe. He is married and a notorious player. A safe bet to 'break the seal', as my goddaughter says. He is super handsome, we get on and there would be no complications on the relationship front.

What's not to like? Well, the wife, I suppose... but that is his problem, and clearly one he has come to terms with, as some of my lady network know only too well. I know at least three women he has dated in the past five years.

Part of my job includes corporate entertainment so I am lucky enough to go to some fairly fab boondoggles. Three weeks hence was a glamorous lunch that I was hosting, so I text him a date for dinner with the glammy lunch as an alternative. Ball back in his court, then, on date or not.

"Can I be greedy and do both?"comes back. So keen, that even my teenage dithering new self could reasonably deduce this was definitely a date. Probably.

I am wildly excited that I have a date! With a handsome guy I like. (Just the minor inconvenience of a wife he cheats on regularly.)

Believing I'm Still Desirable

Monday night, three weeks on, I am at a reception in town with the Marchioness of Douro, Anna Wintour and Victoria Beckham. I am seeing Abe for a glam lunch the next day and dinner with him the day after that. My life is, truly, just gorgeous. And I just might be gorgeous, too...

At the lunch the next day I have briefed a colleague to watch Abe like a hawk to see if he looks keen. We meet and greet, big hug, then lots of quite attentive behaviour over lunch. Quite touchy-feely and the colleague confirms, it's definitely a date-type thing.

Weirdly, though, no mention of dinner the following night. As we say goodbye I casually ask if we are still on for dinner tomorrow night. Oh no, he replies, he meant to tell me: Bayern Munich are playing Chelsea.

I have been dumped for the sodding soccer. Obviously I am now past my sell-by date and the match was a better bet.

That's What You Get When They're Married

I beat a retreat to the country to lick my wounds, as at this time, I had a house in London and a rental cottage near my place of work in Oxfordshire. And it was my week to have custody of mine and my ex's jointly-owned dog.

On the train like a travelling circus, then, two bags and a dog. I change trains and there are ruddy engineering works and I have to get a replacement bus service. One day earlier I was in high heels, had a date and was at a party with Anna Wintour. Now I am a dumpee on a bus with a dog in the back streets of Slough.

Serves me right for even thinking of a married man.

"Get back on the horse. Even if it hurts. Or you'll never ride again." My mum's mantra. So: let's see if I have a Muddy Match when I get home.

Billy from Norfolk has now seen the freshly uploaded picture of me and blocked me. So appalled is he by the look of me that he never wants to communicate with me. Ever again. Two dumpings in a day. That horse is looking a bit insurmountable right now.

Dating at 50. Pretty brutal. Not for the fainthearted. And I decide to reset my moral compass.

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