Sex Pests, Self-Loathing and the Sheer Hell of Dating at 51; Read the New Bridget Jones and It's All Toy Boys and Wild Romps with the Lights on. Get Real, Says AMANDA PLATELL

Article excerpt

Byline: by Amanda Platell

OF ALL the depressing, maddening and humiliating situations I found myself in as a newly single woman in my early 50s, there is one excruciating moment that will always stand out in my mind.

I was having dinner, our third date, in a glamorous restaurant with a hugely attractive man and had just agreed to go back to his flat for coffee.

Out of nowhere, a man came up to our table and said to him: 'Great to see you. How's the new baby?' When he had left, my lying, cheating date admitted he had a wife and three-month-old daughter living in the country while he worked and lived in London during the week.

I left the restaurant there and then, furious, and wondering if there were any men out there who truly wanted a genuine relationship with a woman well past the first flush of youth.

This is the truth about being a 51-year-old singleton. And it couldn't be further from the one depicted in the new Bridget Jones novel.

Yes, Bridget is back -- 51, single and launching into dating again, five years after the death of her husband Mark Darcy.

Early extracts from the new book reveal Bridget deciding that her life as a sexless singleton is over, and she's back agonising over calories, alcohol units and unsuitable men.

In her hot pursuit of steamy romance, she borrows a pair of thigh-high, spike-heeled black leather boots, goes to a nightclub with her friends and picks up a 29-year-old eco warrior.

Wham bam, she's mad about the boy (the title of the book) and having joyous sex with him in the bathroom in front of the mirrors -- with the lights on!

Oh, Bridget please, this is beyond credible. The older singleton's life is a far cry from instant sex and toy boys who want commitment. I should know: I was 51 when my relationship ended four years ago.

I had divorced in my early 30s, then got engaged to another man, but foolishly ended it after seven years. After that I had been in a long-term relationship which had hit the rocks spectacularly.

By the time I washed up again on the dating scene, I was an absolute mess. And the one thing I know I would never have done is jump straight into sexy boots and hit a funky nightclub trying to pull men young enough to be my son.

Thigh-high boots for a woman in her 50s belong only in panto. As for dating someone 22 years your junior, in your dreams, girl -- or should that be nightmares.

There are, indeed, many young men who fancy older women but, with few exceptions, they only want sex. They quickly tire of your Dire Straits albums and cosy dinners for two when all they want to do is listen to Kings of Leon and go clubbing.

The first time I was approached by a much younger man as a single 51-year-old was in Central Park, New York. I was sitting alone on a bench beside a lake. I had been single for six months and was miserable.

He was 6ft 4in, searingly handsome and, as it turned out, 22. My Adonis was working on a film being made in the park, moving people out of shot.

I had lost a lot of weight, as you do after a painful break-up, and was wearing a fake fur coat and kneehigh boots.

He walked up, towering over me, flashed the kind of smile only a man that handsome can and asked me to move.

'Where to?' I asked. 'Straight into my arms,' he said. 'I finish in an hour -- can I take you to dinner or for a drink?' 'You cannot be serious,' I said. 'I'm old enough to be your mother and, anyway, I leave tomorrow.' 'Perfect! Hey, I'm not looking for love,' he said. 'Just sex. What have you got to lose?' My dignity and self-respect, for starters. And any shred of confidence I had left. I made my excuses and left.

UNLIKE Bridget, I had enough sense to realise that writhing around with a sleek-skinned, muscletoned toy boy is guaranteed to make any 51-year-old woman feel more like 100.

You may go to bed purring like a cougar, but you wake up feeling like a mangy old lioness. …