As a newly single woman in her forties with young children who is rebuilding her career after staying home for six years, why do I want to talk about sex, when talking about anything complicated these days is asking for trouble? I have wondered how to begin this conversation for some time because I think, in this age of hyper connectivity, it’s important to look at the little picture. We might know what’s trending on Twitter, or what the latest internet memes are, but how do those ideas resonate with our way of living in this particular place on the map?
After ten years out of the dating scene, I find myself in a landscape that is totally unlike the one I left when I met my husband. I truly believed that I was done with dating for good. Now that I find myself “on the market” once again, I am fascinated by all of the people who are also “out there,” figuring out what it is that they want and need as sexual beings in this brave new dating world. I am not casting the net wide. I’ve got my eyes on a 50 mile radius, about as far as a tomato can travel and still be considered “local.”
Friction generates heat
I was walking my dogs in the woods the other day when I ran into my neighbor hunting morels. Turns out he also just got divorced, and we started talking about dating. He is about my age and confessed he was approaching the scene in the same happy-go-lucky way he did when he was single in college, but was so put off by how “damaged by life” and “angry at men” women our age are that he decided to take a break from dating. I walked away wondering to what extent I may also be haunted by the ghost of my marriage, and how to hold onto the lessons of my past without projecting the last guy onto the next guy.
I get the anger. I’m angry too. And I see no reason why I should put up with selfish and aggressive behavior from a man. Clearly a lot of other women feel the same way, and our confidence has given rise to the #metoo movement. But is the desire to be free of abuse incompatible with the desire for a strong, assertive, masculine dude?
Out from under the bed
After a year of mourning the end of my marriage, the sun literally, and figuratively, came out. Had the weather improved, I may have emerged from hibernation sooner, but every day the snow kept falling and my libido cowered under the bed. Then, on the first nice day in April, I found myself creating a profile on OK Cupid. I might have postponed internet dating and tried to meet a man just out and about, but it is next to impossible to catch someone’s eye across the room when everyone is on their stupid smartphones. I had never tried online dating, and found myself going down a rabbit hole of questions. Do I ever deliberately ignore people? Hm, well I guess, in certain situations. Am I attracted to danger? Not consciously, but I have found myself in dangerous situations, so maybe… WTF! Is this really going to help me get a date? Furthermore I think Kim Kardashian needs to drop everything and do an internet dating selfie seminar immediately. I have seen profile pictures of men’s beds, of their trucks, and their beverages, but mostly I see pictures of men’s reflections with their iPhones in front of their faces. So not hot, guys.
Tinder to the rescue?
I found myself rejecting so many men because of their pictures I decided I should really just be on Tinder. Swiping is strangely exhilarating; I can see why people do it over a billion times a day. But it’s also depressing. Perhaps you like each other, but a few texts later one of you might just disappear – poof! Back into the digital ether. I admit I’m not putting a lot of time into this, and I’ve only been on one Tinder date so far. The guy seemed interesting; professor, world traveler, kinda cute if a little dorky, but when we met he was so totally up in his head I could not see how anything could ever happen between us. What can I say? He just wasn’t sexy.
My hunt for the whole package— a partner who is both a manly man and a feminist— continues. For my next column I am going to have a talk with a great guy who is uniquely qualified to discuss the topic of masculinity, sex, and what women want. Stay tuned!
Want to dive deep into the local sex scene with me? Please write me with your musings and experiences with sexuality and relationships, and your permission to share them. This is not an advice column, but a reflection on this tricky and oh-so-exciting subject- sex! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org