People ask about dating as a Formerly, and I can’t speak to that from personal experience. So when Karen offered her perspective on love and sex as a Formerly, I was grateful. (Karen actually used to babysit me when I was around 6 and she was 12…remember when that few years was like a generational divide? Now it’s nothing.) Here’s her piece. Enjoy!
Sometime after dreading the inevitable 40th birthday, I felt the onset of a strange optimism, a renewed confidence. It was just after 9/11. I remember the feeling of helplessness as I watched the tragic events of that day unfold like millions of others from a TV screen. I was living in DC, but as an ex-New Yorker, it was especially painful to not be there to help.
Those few hours would change everything for me; specifically my perspective on what really mattered in life. Time was suddenly precious. I felt as if my new life was just starting and this new outlook affected how I thought about dating. I no longer needed those barriers I had put up that suggested cynicism and insecurity. It was about approaching dating again with the same innocence and excitement of youth, and discarding as a load of crap that notion that your 40’s were considered middle age and all downhill.
What I didn’t anticipate was becoming a mother at 41–a single-mother. Finding myself pregnant with a less than ecstatic prospective father, I resigned myself to parenting alone. I took a deep breath and was thankful that age and maturity would be my guide. Somehow, I would survive as I always had, but never would I have imagined that becoming a single-mom late in life would fill a void—one that apparently eliminated my need for sex and intimacy…for seven years!
Last year, my son ordered me back into circulation with a thumbs-up. The sense of freedom to have a sexual existence again was exhilarating and empowering, as well as a bit foreign. I was 48 by then and had briefly entertained the notion that I might not be as alluring as I had once been as a Formerly Hot twenty-something. These doubts were very soon dispelled. Shortly after posting a profile on a popular online dating site, along with a few of my best photos, I was floored by the barrage of male attention and the extent to which I was pursued (much more so than in my ‘hot’ youth.)
Dating at this age was a revelation. I loved the attention, but didn’t worry about where each date would lead. I learned, among other things, that sex without love could be still be loving and passionate. I knew what I didn’t want and didn’t waste my time with those that fell short. I had always been no-nonsense (clearly my New York upbringing), but something about getting older and the realization that your prime years are limited, force you to say what you mean and what you feel, skipping the mind games altogether. Clearly that aura of confidence showed.
One of the best suprises: Sex had become infinitely better than ever before, because of experience, independence, and frankly, just not giving a damn.