As the Founder of a dating app, you may find it strange that I'm writing this article. But I thought that it was important to share with you some of my innermost, personal thoughts.
I often get lonely.
As many of you may know already - I am a solo IVF mum. I had my little boy nine
months ago, aged 42. This was following years of dating, whereby I had grown increasingly deluded by the current online dating offerings.
Now, I'm not saying that they don't work; I know many couples who met on the likes of Tinder or Bumble. But they failed me miserably. I have written a few articles now on dating, going back to my first article back in 2019. I didn't realise it at the time, how significant the topic would turn out to be for me, but it demonstrates how my optimism about dating was already beginning to dwindle.
The 'unfair' single position in society
Being single at times is really great at times, but at other times it absolutely sucks. From having to pay more than anyone else for the gym, train, council tax, hotel rooms (the list is endless), to not getting invited to things because your couple friends have started to hang out with other couples. Then of course, most of your friends get married, then they have the kids (most of my friends for example have grown up children), then.... well the only person who is available to go on holiday with you is your mum - well that is what happened to me anyways (although I actually don't mind going on holiday with my mum) - I'm sure I am not alone in this.
On reflection, my friendships started to get younger, but my interests remained the same - I'd massively outgrown burning the candle and partying all night - now favouring dinner and conversation. Hanging out with the young crowd just felt like I'd 'been there, done that'.
Grown up loneliness
Now I have my son, as mentioned I'm doing motherhood solo. Not out of choice.
I'm sorry if that might have left you confused - but let me explain. Okay, yes - primarily I did make a choice to have a child alone, but that was following the discovery that my ovarian reserve was verging on very low - so, no - not so much a choice, but rather that biology made the choice for me: I ran out of time. It does of course mean that I now have someone to do things with - but it isn't the same.
My wider family live quite a distance from me, so at times, even spending time with my little boy can often bring about thoughts of loneliness - I feel alone in the journey. Motherhood is equally as relentless as it is rewarding, and I often have fantasies of having a great partner by my side, someone to share the journey and the experiences. I also feel at times sad that I won't get to see my gorgeous little boy bond with another human the way he bonds with me.
Baby plus one
As mentioned, there are positives to having a baby solo - and obviously many more than the one I'm about to mention - but my little boy is my permanent date (he's stuck with me for many more years to come). I do see however, how when couples have babies that they can lose focus on each other - because with a baby, they simply replace your plus one. Interestingly, the invites don't come from old friends, rather the new ones you have made since becoming a mother. It's as if you step out of one life, and into another with some friendships vanishing over night. I won't lie - this has saddened me.
The traditional nuclear family
As I type this addition to my memoir (which I will write one day) I'm actually on holiday and I am spurred on by my own overwhelming thoughts and feelings, which have arisen over the past week or so. I am not, of course, on holiday on my own - my mum is here - so I am not without company. However, as a solo mum there is no better time to have the 'nuclear family' thrown in your face - something, I of course wanted for myself. Having observed so many families this week, it is hard not to compare - and at times wish I had someone else to help carry the load of parenthood.
Loneliness isn't about being without company. But rather, the absence of it is a feeling of being able to connect with others on a much deeper level. You can be surrounded by people, but still find yourself lonely. I find that this happens most when I have less to do, and I'm sure 'doing nothing' is a trigger for many others.
I have managed to lean into my 'loneliness' at times, in fact, I'd go as far as to say that I've accept that it is normal to feel lonely at times. It is also important to know when your mind is playing tricks on you - making you think you are lonely because there is something wrong with you or that you are inadequate in some way.
But back to dating - I have been dating for the past six years or so. The goal was always to find a great partner, which would hopefully lead to a long, lasting relationship and children. During the last few years, prior to me deciding to have solo IVF, dating got particularly difficult. For many reasons, which included matches lying significantly, or matches just wanting to consistently sleep with me. The odd one which was perhaps more interested in something more serious, there just wasn't the chemistry. I then developed dating fatigues and literally more or less stopped dating completely. Sad huh?
The feelings and thoughts I have about finding someone great definitely triggers my sense of of loneliness - I want to grow old with my 'person'. I know these thoughts won't disappear completely - I just try to remember that they are just that: mere thoughts. Even thought they are to be expected, I don't have to act on them, or believe they carry some 'meaning'. I'm just learning to lean in.
My hope is that one day, my great love will appear (on the white horse of course!) - but also that I will be able to 'fit in' once again within the realms of some of my friendships. Until then, I'll simply keep putting one step in front of the other, and believe that the very best is yet to come.
Stacy, Founder of REDDI