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Sexual Healing: Getting Back Into Dating After a Loss

Joan-Price-senior-planetWelcome to our new Sex at Our Age columnist, award-winning senior sexpert Joan Price! Every week during Senior Sex Month and then monthly, Joan will answer your questions about everything from loss of desire to solo sex and partner issues. Nothing is out of bounds!  (Read our Q&A with Joan here.)

 

I’m a 62-year old woman and I am madly in love, or infatuated or whatever, with a 55-year-old man whose wife left him a few years ago. He’s the first man I’ve been attracted to since my husband’s death five years ago. He is shy and introverted, but I get signals from him that he’s interested in me. Still, I find myself holding back from full flirt mode, and not just because I’m shy. I fear that if he finds out I’m seven years older than he is, he’ll be totally turned off.

We hear a lot about older men being involved with younger women, but not much about older women being involved with younger men. What should I do?

—OlderWoman

First, forget the idea that a seven-year age difference matters – whichever gender is older. It mattered when we were in our 20s, but the difference between 55 and 62 is trivial if the two people are attracted to each other.

Age aside, I think you may really be holding back from full flirt mode because you’re afraid to risk your heart again. What if you go for it and he’s not interested – can you handle that? But on the other hand, what if you wait for him to make the first move and he doesn’t, only because his shyness or fear of rejection is stopping him – then you’ll never know.

I say, go for it!

If you’re feeling too shy to blurt out an explicit invitation, here are some ways to start letting someone know that you’re sexually interested:

  1. Signal with your body that you’re interested: lean in toward him when you’re talking, hold eye contact, touch his arm.
  2. Compliment him on something you find attractive about him.
  3. Say something direct but non-scary, like, “It’s hard to know how to start dating again after losing my spouse, but it feels like it’s time. How have you managed to do it?” An honest conversation may be just what you need to let your guard down and encourage him to do the same. Whether or not this path leads to the bedroom, it will deepen your friendship.
  4. Be flirtatious. Let your sexy self come out and play. He’ll either respond or he won’t. Regardless, you’ll get to practice flirting again – and practice leads to self-confidence.

Sometimes directness works best – if you can do it. After nine months of sending out subtle and not-so-subtle signals to Robert, the man who attracted me in my dance class, I propositioned him by email, saying, “I’m powerfully attracted to you, and I can’t help wondering what it would be like to dance with you – without footwork.” We fell in love and had seven beautiful years together until I lost him to cancer. If I had not finally been direct, he never would have made the first move himself, and I would have lost that seven-year dance. If you feel up to be being more bold and won’t feel devastated if he says no, you could try just blurting it out.

After your loss and years of grieving, you’re starting to feel your life force come back. Whether you’re “in love” or “infatuated” (you’re probably infatuated; you don’t know him well enough to be in love), your sexual and emotional energy are part of that life force.

Enjoy this reawakening, nurture it, and even if he doesn’t end up being the man who shares your bed, celebrate your renewed feelings of sexual desire.

—Joan

Would you like to see more questions and answers? See all of Joan’s advice in Sex At Our Age.

To send Joan your questions, email sexpert@seniorplanet.org.
Joan Price is the author of the award-winning self-help book “Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex” and of “Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty.” Visit Joan’s  blog, “Naked at Our Age.” 

6 comments
  • Joan Price
    REPLY

    Such wisdom in these comments!

    Yes, Rae, I think most love relationships start out as lust (attraction) and deepen over time. But many lust relationships do not develop into love — they are what they are. Sometimes they turn into friendships. Sometimes they fall away when the newness is gone or we discover something about the other that we can’t live with.

    And when lust blossoms into love at our age — it happened with me, and I know from your book Free Fall, Rae, that it happened with you — that’s wonderful!

    Racphoto’s “While those of us who are older realize we may have limited time, it’s still important to do the work that turns lust into love (if that’s what you want)” is so on target!

    Mindy’s advice: “Be cautious but be brave!” is perfect. If we’re too careful, we cut ourselves off from experiences and relationships that may be highlights of our lives. But if we abandon caution altogether, we may live with regret.

    When I was a young woman (many years ago!) I wrote in my journal, “I’d rather regret something I did than something I didn’t do.”

    I wonder what experiences others of you have had taking lust to love. Share your stories with us!

  • Rae Francoeur
    REPLY

    This is a nice blog, Joan. I do wonder whether those who infatuate us might, by some preponderance of cases, also turn later into love connections? That aside, like you, I find myself being fairly direct. I’m not the flirtatious type and my life has always forced me to work for what I want so I usually just put it out there in a very straightforward way. It suits me and I have no regrets.

  • racphoto
    REPLY

    Wonderful common sense advice – especially “you’re probably infatuated; you don’t know him well enough to be in love.” While those of us who are older realize we may have limited time, it’s still important to do the work that turns lust into love (if that’s what you want). Some work can be a lot of fun anyway!

  • Mindy Mitchell
    REPLY

    A wonderful reminder that life is just too short to not take experience all that is available. I have a huge fear of living with regrets in my olden years. There is nothing to lose with reaching out and taking a chance. The joy and pain of love are entertwined and make the experience greater. I speak from my own adventure with love and, sometimes, loss. At 62 I still have much to do. I say ‘go for it’ Be cautious but be brave!

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