One of the most challenging things about aging…. well actually there are just so many, how can we really start with just one? Everyone I talk to who is either over 50 or about to hit that magic number is in one of two camps. Either they’re terrified, because suddenly ‘middle age’ is reached and let’s face it there is no going back now. The idea of starting a family is likely gone – especially for women – or its an extraordinary mountain to climb if it’s going to be an option at all. Friends have started dying from age related things – and many of us now have friends of our own (not just our parents friends) who are 70-ish. And our bodies start to behave differently. So the very idea of Hitting your Mid-Life Stride may be fraught with expectations but I bet every single one of them is completely different to the reality.
I remember turning 40 and feeling like it was still OK; thinking I looked and felt like I was only 30 something. But 50 well that’s a whole new ballgame.
The other camp is filled with people who are now well into their 50s or even the next decade, and feel pretty well like this is the very best time of our lives.
- Where do you sit so far?
- What’s changed?
My optometrist told me a couple of years ago that he sees a large group of people who just turned 50 and found within 12 months their eyesight changed – often for the worse, even if only slightly. He and I had both just turned 50 that year, and I nodded my head and smiled at his anecdotal tales. Another friend of mine is a GP and Cosmedical Specialist and said that menopause (and aging) is such a big deal once we turn 50 – although so many of us might have started in our 40’s, 50 is when things start to ‘get real’ as we flock to buy lubricants, libido pills, get cosmedic enhancements – that’s if we’re still having sex at all.
Vanity is a harder issue for many of us too – we look in the mirror and see our parents staring back. Yikes! If we lost a parent in their 50’s or 60’s, we might even wake up one day with a startling realization we’re now sleeping with someone older than that parent the last time we saw them.
There’s no doubting that our age is confronting at every turn in this decade.
But let’s look at the bright side- because its a pretty exciting place to be once you decide to venture over and really take a good look.
The Bright Side of Being 50+
The upside of aging for women, is that we finally get to stop worrying about birth control, and if the kids are older and hopefully even left home, privacy is much easier found and enjoyed. We feel more in tune with our bodies than ever before, and in many instances, feel as though we’re finally fitting our skin. We become more used to the way it feels to just be ourselves. Many of us also stop paying attention to bullshit about how we’re supposed to feel, look, age gracefully etc, and take charge of our bodies and our minds quite firmly. I speak to many women who feel that they finally woke up somewhere around 50-52 and realized they were comfortable with who they actually are.
Men have a few upsides to aging too. Most men actually look better with a few character lines on their faces, and distinguished gray is pretty yummy by many women’s standards. They also seem to know better who they are and how they feel about life, what it means to be a man, and how to appreciate a good women – in all ways.
But here’s where it gets really difficult for so many men and women after 50.
The singles who are emerging from past long term relationships, unsure about who they really are as sexual beings are left struggling with the new rules of the game. The ones who many not have had to try and find a partner for a decade or more and find that how they are supposed to act, feel, or behave has new standards, and no one knows where to find the handbook.
Having gone through this myself, and had long, (and I mean all night long sometimes) conversations about this with friends, clients, and even a perfect stranger or two, I completely understand the challenges of starting over. Regardless of whether you were widowed, in a short or long term partnership, if it was mutual or messy, the baggage carried forward into the new you, and how you want to take that version of yourself forward into a new relationship is like working out how much luggage to pack for a hike into the Grand Canyon. And without a cheat sheet for the packing, and a good guide to ensure you make it safely through the many obstacles, you may find yourself often lamenting on how hard it is – sometimes with a friend or two on a Friday night, and sometimes alone on the bathroom floor with your cat to sob with. Sadly you’re cat doesn’t really care… and your puppy wants dinner, so you can’t stay there all night.
Those of us who do manage to find someone special somehow, are then faced with various issues around sex, their kids, your kids, his parents, her ex…. groan! and you may wonder if it’s all worth it anyway.
Discovering that it is worth it or at least working out if you are in fact happier with a couple of lovers and good friends to have holidays with is all part of the process. Identifying what exactly your greatest needs, wants, desires, and fears are is a great start.
What does it take to get through this?
Identifying first who you really are, what baggage needs to be left out of the pack going forward, what kind of trip you really do want to take into dating world (the Grand Canyon might end up being either your Everest or a stroll along the local riverbank instead) and what precautions you might want to take as you venture forth. And how can you know what your great adventure looks like and plan on successfully hitting your mid-life stride if you don’t know how to first figure out what you want and who you really are?
If you’re feeling challenged by this new world of being single in your mid years, maybe it’s time to take a look at some of my other blogs and please, reach out if you need some direction.
PS: If you’d like to come and hang out on an IGNITE Session – it’s FREE – here’s the link… https://tinyurl.com/IgniteSessions2
If you feel you’d like to know more about getting some help with navigating ‘this dating thing’ please take a moment to check out Dixie’s personal dating coaching services. I’ll personally get back to you quickly.
Or you can grab a copy of Dixie’s new book – The Taboo Conversation – about how to identify and get what you really want sexually and in a partner in your mid-later years.