My love life is arse about tip. It really is up the swanny. I thought that, by now - over two years since my divorce - I'd be settled down with someone new. I'd be part of a bigger, blended family, living in a shabby house full of sweaty teenagers and marked sofas, drum kits and chaotic dinners. Come the evenings, there would be a log fire lit in the winter, drinks outside in the summer. My new partner would be bookish, funny, caring, witty, sexy. He would bring me a cup of tea in bed. I would tickle his feet. Our children, wary of each other at first, would given time all get on like a house on fire.
There would be board games, shouting, dancing. Flowers.
Instead, I am living a quieter existence with my own two boys in a little house that we have made home. I am happy here - in fact, I'm closer to my boys than I have ever been - but my choices of boyfriend have so far been shocking. Shite, quite frankly.
The Boyf, who I have written about often, chucked me (again) last week. We had a complex, long distance relationship, built on insecure ground. His ex wife hated me, and last summer her harassment led to me calling the police. I never met his son, and his daughter only once. He wanted nothing to do with my kids. He was depressed.
Not the most wonderful set-up for a serious partnership, I grant you. But I gradually got used to our on/off relationship, filling the 'off' bits with internet dates. These haven't been wildly successful; there was the guy who turned out to be gay; the guy who was still living with his wife; and the guy who wouldn't stop talking. I'm still seeing the last guy. He is, at least, extremely good at filling the silence when the kids aren't at home.
Dating in your 40s, second time around, is a completely different prospect to dating when you were younger. Yes, the pot is smaller, but you are changed, too - you are more self-assured, more independent, more knowledgeable about what you want. You're better at sex, simply because you've had more practice. You're not afraid to ask for what you like (and yes, I'm still talking about enjoying yourself in the sack). You are probably pickier with men, and find it hard to settle for someone who appears less than perfect. You'll have learned from past mistakes and are keen not to revisit them.
There are external changes, too. You might have kids - who need to be put first. You might be working all hours God sends to keep the wolf from the door, so simply don't have time to date.
You might just not have the energy to date any more.
To be honest, I'm getting to that stage. There's one man left that I have my sights on, but he lives a looooong way away. I hardly know him. He has his own responsibilities. But he has said lovely things, is gentle and funny and bright. He writes well. I imagine he might bring me a cup of tea in bed occasionally. And he might even speak to my boys.
And if he doesn't work out, I will cry. Either that, or go on an extremely long holiday. Or watch the entire box set of Game of Thrones in one sitting - with the curtains closed, surrounded by a mountain of Kettle Chips.
Actually, probably all three.
So if he's reading this - and of course he isn't, because if he ever read this blog then he wouldn't want to know me any more - then I'd like to say to him: My entire relationship with mankind rests on your broad shoulders.
Please don't let me down.