This is for Woman Hour on 6.8.18 where I was featured with dating advice for a 67 years young woman wanting to go into the dating world again.
"At my age? I'm happy on my own? Never again. I'd rather have a cup of tea"
What if the above, that are so commonly said, simply aren't true? What if in later life and on your terms, you could create the best and most supportive relationship of your life and explore intimacy again. This time with a renewed sense of self and and an ease you didn't feel first time around?
On the face of it that might seem impossible, with previous disappointing experiences of dutiful or unexciting sex, an ageing body and a social calendar with worthy yet rather dull activities and time with grandchildren, featuring more than sexy well-rounded heel opportunities.
If so, you're not alone and all your shyness and submerged wondering isn't either. So imagine, if instead of thinking your time for love has passed, you could see this as time for yourself and a chance to cultivate a radical new interest. Intimacy is far more fascinating than you might believe. Once you break free of the social and self imposed expectations that it's not possible or it’s a bit beyond or beneath you. Wanting to love and be loved is human and beautiful, a bit messy too, but there's really nothing wrong about wanting a witness to your life, an interesting, friendly companion to share your joys and sadnesses with. And if you get to renew your intimacy with yourself and another what a treat!
Depending on what you'll allow yourself, exploring intimacy in later life can vary from the tricky to the transformational. Ask yourself, What do you want from your life, how do you want to live from now till you die, in the grey zone or the golden glow of a life well lived? Of really understanding the mystery of love and good relationship.
Once you decide to set your course to love, and find a willingness to let go of being good, which is frankly rather limited, a bit of mystery and fuck it-ness can herald great discovery about yourself and others.
I won't list the reasons why you think you can't, you probably know most of those already. What I invite you to do is throw out your TV and newspapers and learn to live in wonder and a spirit of joyful curiosity and openness.
I stepped into a women's sexuality course at the age of 49 and it's changed me completely. I'm not suggesting everyone follows the same path of challenge and heartbreak to love as I did but it's been a time of aliveness, new friendships and spiritual understanding as well as some astonishing experiences. Before this wake up, I knew how to make a living but not how to live.
So If you're one of those people who always thought there was more to life than you are experiencing, trust that instinct and your deeper knowing. There is.
Here's some tips to live with aliveness in the later part of life:
Find courage to break old habits and allow yourself some new ideas about how life and love really work. It can be a transformational time. Finding a Women’s circle like Red Tent could be interesting.
Intentionally open your heart to love and be loved again. Admit you’d love this. Get clear on what you really want, need, desire and offer. Understand your value and admit your heart’s desires. Do you only want a date? Or a new love relationship? Getting clear helps you know how to spend your time and who with.
Start reading new stuff. Put down Joanna Trollop and entertain the idea of becoming one! Read factual books about your intended new love life for some updated ideas. A Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch, Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski, A New Earth by Eckart Tolle, Calling In The One by Helen Woodward Thomas are great places to start.
Get out of your comfort zone, it's boring. Good behaviour is completely overrated too. Being naughty for once in your life is permissive and fun. If you don't like it, you can go back to being nice.
Forget internet dating as the pressure is too much. It’s time consuming and who wants to get stuck with the same person all evening, at least not until you know and like them. And want to undress them. Coffee dates, conversations with interesting strangers and Meet Up groups are the new world until then. Small meetings build trust and interest.
Be kind to yourself and the other shy humans you'll meet. They'll have their life disappointments and fears about their bodies too. There’s no need to download your previous bad experiences on them, no-one needs to know that on a first meeting. Allow yourself to believe that they have come along with good intentions and may contribute to your happiness.
Be vulnerable and avoid small talk, get into the deep conversations of the topics that really matter. Death, sex, religion and money are good ones, there's no need to be judgmental just curious to hear another person and to see whether you might feel enough connection and interest and compatibility. If they're boring you, you can leave.
If you like the person, at some point it may lead to intimacy. The most important things are often the hardest to talk about. Learn to talk about sex. Being able to say 'slower, softer, or 2 millimetres to the right' could have given us all more ease and better experiences in previous bedrooms. It's never too late to start. And there’s support out there.
Learn about your body and how it likes to be touched. None of us have been to sex school and and taking responsibility for your own pleasure is ultimately liberating. Another person will not magically know your body better than you do so let’s admit our innocence, drop the Mr Right fantasy and and start sex again. This time with renewed curiosity and a lot less duty.
This isn’t about sex, it's about soul. Getting to know yourself through intimacy can be fascinating. Allow yourself to be reflective and self absorbed for a while. Living from your spirit and in trust of yourself and others. Understanding that the Universe has got your back is a new way of believing and being. Meeting 'what is' with a grace and curiosity instead of railing about how you think life 'should' be.
What have you got to lose but your disappointments? Finding new ties to bind you to the wonder of love in later life is a joyous experiment in freedom, idealism and new possibility. You’re doing something quietly revolutionary for a whole generation of women actually. You may even find new love or a lover along the way. The late treat.
In the Tibetan Book of the Dead it says the perfect time to begin to prepare for your death is your birth. And the second best time is now. It's the same with Love.