Spring has Arrived...with Rosebuds and Romance...

The wisteria is in bloom around the pool

Finally, after a very long and wet winter here in Western Australia, spring has sprung with full force, reminding us that she is here, encouraging new life and new opportunities.  The blue skies, the scattered rain showers making the heads of the newly emerging rosebuds shine, and the spring in my step as I walk my dog in the morning, remind me of the power of nature and the effect of the seasons on me.

Ruby and I love our early morning walks

A protracted dose of painful and exhausting shingles overwhelmed me throughout autumn and winter...the cold and wet days, the grey skies and blustery winds all contributed to my malaise.  I realised, again, that I am a "victim" to the brightness of the skies, the calm of the air and the green of the foliage around me.

The Chinese Tallow trees are bursting with new leaves

But life goes on and some months ago, I was asked to give an interview about the etiquette of online dating...which required research.  Firstly I decided to ask my friends, and my children, their thoughts about the concept and, for those who had participated in online dating, about their experiences.

Some years ago,  online dating was considered the last resort of the "desperate single" who had given up on the usual environments of bars and sporting clubs and in whose group of friends there were no likely "prospects".  Today, as I have found, the situation is greatly different.

There seems to be no stigma at all attached to online dating across all ages and sexual groupings.
The only difference is the sites which are preferred by  the Gen Y's, for example,  as compared to the Baby Boomers.

And in the spirit of accurate research I joined a dating site and went on a few dates, so I can now speak from personal experience about the etiquette of online dating.  And my experience is no different from that of my friends...it's a game of luck and good humour!

The first spring buds of my "Just Joey" roses are colourful and fragrant

While the concept didn't interest me, some of my friends had tried "speed dating", with little success.  Trying to strike up a relatively sensible conversation with a stranger in the space of a few minutes is difficult at the best of times, let alone when the room is full of "competition".

One male friend told me that over the last few years he had tried a number of singles' night organisations, from Parents Without Partners, to the Dinner Party Club and while he had enjoyed some friendships he had not found a romantic partner.

The etiquette of online dating is quite clearly outlined by the various online dating sites...and it is rather more about safety than manners; although responding to "kisses" and "winks" from other members is encouraged as being polite.

It would seem that the universal rule for the sites is that if you want to meet with a fellow member you do so over a coffee in a public place, after exchanging emails, then telephone calls, and getting to know a little about the other person so that conversation flows freely.

My first foray into the "blind date" situation was daunting, but because we had emailed quite frequently and lived nearby we mutually decided to share our first date at a local wine bar. My fellow, nervous friend and I enjoyed a couple of wines, some laughs and, as it transpired, some mutual acquaintances. Some pleasant outings followed and I learned that friendships can be formed through online dating, even if they are not romantic ones.

The coffee date scene was less rewarding for me.  I had three dates...one after a month or so of emails with a man who, as it turned out, was new in town and wanted my contact list more than me!  And another who arrived in the clothes he was wearing to participate in a "busy bee" at his football club after our coffee appointment...one of the unwritten rules of online, blind dating is not to arrive looking like you have no concept of a positive first impression.  It was obviously mutual that no further friendship was going to develop in either case. In the third case the man launched into a one-way conversation, even before coffee arrived, assuring me he would one day be the Prime Minister of Australia...I had not seen that coming in our previous email correspondence!

Some time later, feeling rejuvenated by a holiday, I met with another member and almost immediately, through emails and encouraged by our mutual sense of humour and shared interests,  felt a connection.  Our first date was lunch at a venue, suggested by my new friend, which was beside the ocean, one of our shared passions.

And so, romance has blossomed, not unlike the spring roses in my garden.  My "petals" are opening revealing a heart, which having been badly damaged a few years ago,  has healed and is enjoying once again its time in the sun.

These two ladybirds became "close friends" a few minutes after this photo was taken

Spring, in all cultures, is a time of rejuvenation and new life...whether it be ladybirds, bees pollinating the new plants, birds nesting in the trees in my garden...or people rediscovering that each new spring brings...more.