At a supper held by a friend last year, I sat next to Ros, a woman I had never met before. Within minutes we were chatting about our lives, children and wider families.
Her elderly mother had died recently and she began to talk about her beloved brother, a few years older than me who was divorced with two grown sons. He was in a ‘sort of’ relationship that was going nowhere and lived alone.
My ears pricked up. I was divorced, also in an on-off relationship, and always quietly on the lookout for someone special.
Ros seemed lovely, funny and sane, and when she told me her brother was a senior newspaper executive, a light went on in my head. In the 1970s I was secretary to a man called Fin who ran a press office for a charity. I didn’t stay very long, but I knew he later became a deputy editor at a national newspaper (not the Daily Mail, I must add).
Aggie Mackenzie (pictured) who had an amicable divorce in 2011, shared the dating experiences that followed until she found joy with her former boss Fin
As Ros described her brother, I realised he was Fin. I had always warmed to him — he had been a kind and easy-to-work-for boss.
A little voice was saying, ‘Mmm, I wonder if we ever met up, might we fancy each other?’
Little did I know this chance encounter would be the start of a new relationship, and that in my 60s I would fall in love with a man who was my boss 42 years earlier.
When I met my ex-husband in 1989, he seemed the perfect match: funny, clever, sexy, generous, sociable, emotionally mature (and eight years younger). We had two gorgeous boys.
For the last seven years of our marriage we tried hard to make it work, but finally in 2011 we divorced amicably.
Embarrassingly, between 2004 and 2014 I had no romance in my life. Curiously, I don’t recall feeling lonely; just different. It was as if I were waiting for a man, but at the same time terrified of having a relationship.
It can be daunting going back on to the dating scene after divorce and kids, when everything is less taut than before. Crinkly skin is not a great aphrodisiac.
Online dating, in theory, gives everyone a wider choice but with that can also come disappointment and feelings of failure.
In 2015, I was fretting about this with my straight-talking younger sister, Karen, who told me to just set up a profile. I was hesitant as I’m a sort-of public figure.
Aggie (pictured aged 22) signed up to a dating website where she met a man who lied about his age and Tom, a widower whose wife was still alive
Eventually, I did sign up to a dating site, and quite a few men wanted to know if I was that Aggie, then wouldn’t believe me when I said yes, I was! They seemed to think I wouldn’t need to date online. (I’m not alone — Sharon Stone was blocked by dating site Bumble as daters didn’t believe it was her.)
One man I met early on was a cutie, and very funny. But it was the death knell for me when he confessed he was eight years older than he had stated, taking him well into his 70s.
A few months later came Tom, a widower, whose funny and irreverent profile stood out. On our first meeting I asked him, as sensitively as I could, what had happened to his poor wife?
Ah well, he said, the thing was, his wife wasn’t dead. She had MS. By the time I had retrieved my jaw from the floor, he said he felt justified in calling himself a widower as he had already ‘lost’ her and, he assured me, had permission from her to wander.
The arrangement wasn’t straightforward — Tom would tell me his wife was very sad about the situation and he felt guilty. Despite the tricky beginning, we dated on and off for three years.
But Tom lived 50 miles away and, as I wasn’t prepared to move closer, he ended things.
At this point I realised, despite all my searching, I was happy with my independent life deep down. It struck home that I was more attracted to men who were not aiming to settle down.
Aggie (pictured in 2014) began dating her ex Robert in 2018, but he wasn’t ready for commitment after his own divorce
So in 2018 I returned to an ex, Robert, whom I had given the heave-ho three years earlier when he admitted that, post-divorce, he wasn’t ready for commitment.
I told myself it was ‘just to tide me over’ yet found I was becoming closer to him. I introduced Robert to friends and met his three grown children. He travels abroad for work and often asked me to go with him.
We practised yoga together and would talk and drink late into the night. I felt very in tune with him, and I thought he felt the same.
That didn’t stop him from sleeping with other women on other business trips, however. I worked on the basis that I preferred to know whom he was sleeping with, so I’d ask him and he would say.
This worked for me for a year or so — if he wasn’t committing himself to me, then I didn’t have to commit myself to him. Except I wasn’t seeing anyone else. So, last summer I told him, without issuing an ultimatum, that I was starting to feel jealous.
It soon became clear he was slowly shedding the other women — without actually saying why.
Robert started to focus his energies more strongly on me, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in an exclusive relationship with him. I was starting to feel trapped.
And that’s when Fin unexpectedly came back into my life.
A few weeks after I met his sister, Ros emailed to say he wanted to contact me.
Aggie (pictured) arranged to meet her former boss Fin, a few weeks after having a chance encounter with his sister Ros
When we were colleagues, there had been no hint of romance. I remembered him as quiet but confident; self-effacing and funny. We didn’t socialise outside work, but he was respectful and considerate during the year I was his secretary. Could that change?
Two weeks later, I received a sparky, friendly email from Fin suggesting a meet-up. I replied straight away.
We had one or two more short email chats and he rang me. As it was July, he asked me to his place for a glass of wine in the garden.
The day came, and I didn’t know whether I was heading for a date or a platonic catch-up. We had a wonderful evening — boozy, comic and candid. We parted with a hug and a chaste kiss. I sensed he might be interested in me.
The next meeting was less chaste. At that time I was still involved with Robert and for a few weeks it felt OK to be seeing two men — after all, I had every right to and I was honest with both. Soon, though, it didn’t feel OK, and I had to make a choice.
In early October I wrote to Fin. I asked him how he felt about me and, without feeling he had to commit himself, might he be interested in a relationship?
Later that day he replied. Yes, he would be interested.
Aggie (pictured) revealed the great thing about going out with someone she knew in his 20s, is that she can still see his youthful side
I told Robert I could no longer see him. Of course he was upset I had chosen Fin, but I knew I was making the right choice.
Here was a man I felt I could trust, who wanted to be part of my (and my boys’) life, and for me to be part of his. He is decent and generous — when I see how loving and playful he is with his sons, my heart bursts with joy.
He came to my sister Karen’s 60th in Glasgow, so he could meet her and my other siblings and get to know the whole family.
The great thing about going out with someone I knew in his 20s is that I can still see the bouncy, youthful Fin. He’s as slim now aswas in 1978, with the same sparkly eyes and broad smile. Early in our relationship I had a rotten cold and he looked after me, bringing medicine and fruit. When I moved house he gave up his day to hump boxes around my new place.
For the first time in years I have a partner who prioritises me, cherishes me, makes me laugh and feel loved. And he’s made it clear he’s in this for the long haul, which, curiously, doesn’t scare me one bit.
some names have been changed.