Jacqui Lambie has made a reasonable request:
“I just want somebody that is going to not just be my partner, but my best friend as well for the rest of my life. That’s what I’m looking for.”
The former senator appeared on Channel 7’s Sunday Night program to make her intentions clear: she’s finally putting herself first, and looking for love.
A romantic relationship is something the 47-year-old hasn’t had time for in 15 years, concentrating instead on raising her two children as a single mum – and, of course, establishing herself as one of Australia’s most successful (and controversial) high-profile female politicians.
As Lambie explained to Sunday Night, after she relinquished office last year, she knew it was time to prioritise her romantic needs. The problem was, she was severely out of practise.
“I’ve been by myself for so long that I’ve just switched off on that side of life,” she said.
But despite that, and her cautious nature, her ‘drought’ has helped her define what she wants.
“I think that what I’m looking for is just a good Aussie bloke who can hold his own.”
Her criteria is very straightforward – much like the former Senator herself.
“You know, doesn’t have too much drama in his life. He’s got no exes that are bothering him, he’s got no kid custody battles going on out there, he’s getting on with his life, he’s happy, he’s outgoing.
“I think that’s somebody that, you know, can pick up tools, use tools, but can put a suit on,” she said. “I don’t want a homebody. I want them to have their own career, and their own job.”
Lambie made it clear that while she may be considered middle-aged, that doesn’t mean she’s dead on the inside.
“You know, you can say that somebody’s a hottie out there. Doesn’t mean you’re actually going to have a connection with them. Mind you, it’s probably easier to have a connection with them when they are a bit of a hottie …”
At one point, she cheekily added, “Bit of beef is good.”
With this in mind, Lambie chose a more traditional approach to finding a bloke, rather than using a dating app, enlisting support in the form of her best mates, and relationship expert Samantha Jayne. Although, arguably, televising her journey could be considered somewhat unconventional.
“It’s really important for me to get to know Jacqui Lambie, who she really is, not who she is outside in the media,” Jayne said on the program.
“She is missing that love and that connection.”
Couple a relationship expert with a glamorous make-over, and Lambie was set to revive her love life.
She did some speed-dating and met Craig Casey, a fly-in-fly-out mine worker.
“It wasn’t hard to have a conversation with Jacqui,” was Casey’s verdict. “Talking to her in person, she makes you feel very, very comfortable.”
A great ice-breaker for Lambie: so far, so good.
However, her next date got cold feet at the last minute – and he called in a friend, Ricardo Amado, an IT specialist, to replace him.
“She [Jacqui] has a beautiful energy, I think she is a great person, a good heart,” Amado told the show.
It was certainly a different perspective on the usually direct and almost abrasive Lambie than the Australian public is accustomed to.
During the date, Lambie also revealed a vulnerability: an injury she suffered in the army led to heavy reliance on pain killers and a long-term battle with depression.
“Once I started to get better, I threw myself straight into politics for the last three-and-a-half years,” she told Amado.
Watching her open up and at times roar with laughter, it was clear that Lambie was embracing the experience of adult companionship again. She said at one point, “We talked about normal stuff like family, like our kids, everyday life, the dating and how it’s all working out for the both of us."
Lambie's next date was Melbourne businessman Gregg Currie - and it was her most successful. She said it was just like going to dinner with an old friend.
“We had an amazing conversation with no topics out of bounds."
No matter what happens in Lambie's future, any divorced person knows that it's not easy putting yourself out there, especially if you've been out of the game for so long. So for Lambie to do it on national television was brave, and one that will hopefully inspire anyone in her position nervous about re-entering the dating scene.
Of course, there were the detractors, especially ones who responded to Lambie's enthusiastic attendance of a sex toy party:
“There’s nothing embarrassing by going to these parties,” she insisted, thoroughly enjoying herself and admiring the toys.
“It’s like a bloody jackhammer,” she said. “I’m pretty open to all that side of ... that side of life.”
But some viewers needed to rain on her parade. Derryn Hinch tweeted about the show, describing his pain at watching Lambie have a good time and reveal herself to be a sexual being.
Jacqui Lambie. We worked so well on worthy legislation. Wish you were back. Tonight’s TV was cringeworthy. Vomitville. You’re so much better than that.
— Derryn Hinch (@HumanHeadline) May 27, 2018
It was a sad attitude from Hinch, who obviously couldn't respect Lambie as a woman with a right to enjoy herself as she pleases.
Good thing she's not the type of chick who'd let a grown man who uses the term "vomitville" bring her down.
Because, as the program showed us, Lambie isn't going - ahem - down for anyone - unless she chooses to.