When I heard the news, I broke out into a knowing smile. Just six months after her divorce from James Cracknell, 45-year-old British TV host Beverley Turner has reportedly found love with a new man nearly 15 years her junior, also called James. She was introduced to the 31-year-old eco-housing property developer (could he be any more millennial?) by mutual friends and they have been dating for the last two months.
Of course, cynics will have this pegged as Beverley getting some kind of "cougar revenge" on her ex- husband who also is in a relationship with someone much younger. Cracknell met Jordan Connell, a thirtysomething American financier, while studying philosophy as a mature student at Cambridge University. She is now understood to split her time between her native New York City and London.
On the surface it could appear that both are experiencing something of a classic midlife crisis not befitting a couple who have the care of three children aged between 15 and eight to juggle. But as someone who is also experiencing a second chance of love after a divorce, I would say if you are thinking that, maybe think again.
Exiting an ailing marriage and moving into a new dating lane is quite the opposite of a crisis. It's like finally Marie-Kondo-ing a comfy cardigan that has shrunk in the wash and lost a few buttons. It no longer fits. It no longer sparks joy. It's time to move on.
Getting back out there after a long-term relationship has broken down takes steely nerves and a healthy shot of self-confidence. When my own marriage broke down after 10 years, I was 45, the same age as Beverley is now, and it took me a while to muster up the gumption to consider dating again.
My body had weathered the birth of two children pretty well but still had its fair share of wrinkle and sag, and opening myself up to the possibility of a new relationship and getting naked with another man was daunting.
When I signed up to a dating app, the main emotion was trepidation, but I was also a little bit excited; like a child in a sweet shop excited.
My ex had moved on and now it was my turn. I'd had my children and done the white wedding, buying a lovely house thing and now I wanted to find someone for me. Yes, me.
I wasn't looking for a father for my children and, aside from being moderately attractive and interesting company, none of the usual rules had to apply. The age preference I chose was sufficiently wide - between 35 and 65. My date could have been an ageing rocker, mature student, hot hipster, a father of six or none. My eyes and ears were wide open in a way they'd never been before. No doubt Beverley has had the same approach.
There is no reason to limit your options the second time round.
As it happened, the first three men I matched with were all quite a bit younger than me. The first had a sketchily written profile, but I simply liked the look of him. He had olive skin and thick, wiry hair (my ex had been bald) and lived just a couple of miles away. We met outside a tube station and I quickly realised my error in judging a man by his online picture.
He did have olive skin and thick, wiry hair, but he also had a limp, a drool and wore jeans with a waistband that loitered around his knees. The date lasted 45 minutes and ended with him knocking a glass of red wine over my white shirt.
But, instead of feeling despondent, I called my sister and relayed every torturous detail with tears of laughter streaming down my face. It was the best-worst kind of date; one that made me hoot with laughter every time I thought about it and still does.The next couple of dates weren't successful either in a dating or romantic sense, but I still loved every minute. One, with a 39-year-old anaesthetist's assistant, had me in a game of flirtatious text tennis for weeks that ended rather abruptly when we eventually met up and realised it was far less entertaining communicating without a screen.
Then there was the man who took out his comfort blanket when I invited him in for coffee. Let's leave that one there, shall we?
A few of my friends were convinced I was experiencing a kind of mania. I must be depressed. I was acting out of character. Was I trying to replace loneliness with a bunch of silly, inappropriate men? I wonder if Beverley is now hearing similar misgivings from her friends. The idea of having fun after a marriage had fallen apart was simply too bizarre for them to compute.
What those near me hadn't realised was that, after years of being trapped in a failing domestic relationship, I had now discovered a new, more confident midlife self. I felt liberated and free.
In her books Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs, Esther Perel, a Belgian psychotherapist, writes about the rigid cultural expectations of long-term monogamy being unattainable. She argues the romantic ideal of love ultimately can't be sustained and, for many, this can lead to loneliness and disappointment.
In my newly divorced state, I started to think Perel had a point. As people, we grow and change with the years and if a marriage can't grow and change with us, is it such a bad thing to find new relationships that do?
Beverley's relationship with James Pritchett is not a reaction to her divorce, but her moving on from it. I have seen it happening to some of my friends too. They have emerged from the ashes of their divorces unapologetic, re-energised, ready for their second act. Not wallowing or "in crisis", but open and excited for new opportunities.
We do it with our careers - we reinvent, switch jobs, retrain. Why can't we adopt the same attitude to our love life? For my fourth date, I was matched with a laid-back Australian. He was 55 and yet talked as if his whole life was still ahead of him; so much adventure to be had, so many places to travel, even his work ambitions still burning.
We have been together two and a half years now and talk openly about our future together. I found him by putting my marriage firmly behind me. Beverley is doing the same. I wish her luck with her second act. She deserves it.