Why has dating men in my 50s been such a dire experience? | Ask Philippa

Loneliness is crippling, says Philippa, and it might make you lower your standards

The question I’m a 54-year-old woman, divorced for three years. My experience of men for this time has been pretty awful. I feel used and played. I want to ask you about the role mobile phones play in relationships, particularly how they can be used to maybe allow people to cheat. When I was in my 20s, they didn’t exist and communication between me and my then-husband was straightforward and I really did trust him. It’s only since divorce that I have come across such horrible behaviour. Is this something to do with my age group? It seems that men my age think it’s OK to treat women like sweets in a shop, not giving any care about feelings after initially pledging very convincingly that they do. The last one, who I thought was all right, lied about being supportive and used me to help him through some kind of breakdown, then feeling much better went away on a cycling holiday and slept with someone he met, telling me quite proudly about it and his plans to take that forward. What’s going on? What’s wrong with me and what do I need to learn please, as I feel lost with this? My foray into internet dating has been so dire that I’m reluctant to try again. Is there any hope for women around my age?

Philippa’s answer Let’s start with the most important thing – there’s nothing wrong with you. There isn’t anything wrong with mobile phones either, nor even is there anything wrong with most men. Beware of charm, smarm and promises and rely more on watching how someone behaves. I’ve got no rules about whether or not to sleep with someone before you’ve got to know them, but don’t do it if you expect faithfulness to follow and will be hurt if it doesn’t.

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