Read an Excerpt
This book is for women over the age of forty who want to find a loving, passionate, and nurturing relationship.
It is not about finding an adequate relationship, one that is “good enough for someone my age,” but a stellar, better-than-your-dreams, awesome, “light-up-my-life” kind of relationship. It is about having a relationship that up to now was supposedly available only to the young or those who could afford the young.
If all this book covered were how to be attractive so you could find this true love (which it does!), then, of course, it would be worth taking your time to read it.
But what makes this book unique is that it is about what is available, what is possible, what is different, and what is better about a relationship at your age. Instead of trying to imitate or repeat what it was like to be in love like a couple of twenty-year-olds, how about the real thing of being in love like a couple of forty-five-year-olds?
Sound pretty depressing? How come? How come we think that everything great is either over or has passed us by? Is that really true? When I ask people what it is like to be the person they are now rather than who they were at twenty-five, without exception, everyone has said that they now have much more self-respect and self-esteem, are much happier with themselves, much more at peace, and definitely more nurtured by their relationships with others. So how could a relationship between two such evolved human beings not help but be better?
The answer is that we often throw away all these assets it took so many years to accumulate in order to try to relive or recapture some picture from the past. We do this because the only models we have for falling in love are from our (or others’) youth. But looking and acting as if we are twenty when you are fifty doesn’t work. You may have seen women who try to do this. Inevitably, the very attractive, beautiful, sensual, middle-aged woman will not only look like a fool, but the cover-up will actually make her look older than her age. The same thing happens when a relationship is forced into an inappropriate mold: its natural beauty becomes disfigured.
It Can Be Even Better with Age
My friend Martha, who just turned fifty, was telling me about the new man in her life. “Nita, what I am going through in this relationship I have never experienced before in my life.” She was nervous and scared, just as she had been when she was young and in love, but her emotions and her way of relating to another human being were bringing forth a new discovery of herself. This makes a lot of sense. After all, we have grown and evolved as we grew older, so it is only natural that our relationships would expand and grow as well. I was truly excited by her news.
In interviewing women about what is better about relationships at our age, they always answered with what was better about themselves at this age. I kept going after what more they were getting out of the relationships, and still they kept telling me how much happier they were with themselves. Finally, I got it.
My advice about whether to continue dating a man or move on has always been to check how you feel about yourself when you are with him. If you feel admired, respected, listened to, and attractive when you are in his company, then keep going out with him. I realized that as we get older and feel better about who we are, we are more sure of who we are. As a result, we get more out of being with another person, and the other person’s feelings about us get through more easily.
I interviewed many people for this book, both men and women. The results and insights from those conversations appear throughout the book. The men I talked with showed a bias for women over the age of forty, and they were, without exception, successful and accomplished men who could easily have courted and won women in their twenties and thirties. One of the questions I asked only the men was, “What do you like about women in this age group more than younger women?”
“I like to share a similar frame of reference with a woman. We have more in common and can talk about ideas from a similar background and period of time. Also, I find that younger women (and I was the same way when I was younger) are more theory and less experience. Younger people have all the answers and, interestingly, seem more closed-minded because of this.”
“I find that women my age have a better sense of humor. I seem to be on a different wavelength from the younger women I go out with. Also, I find a woman who has lived a little,
who has had some ups and downs, more interesting and attractive.”
“If you want to have a certain quality of discourse and conversation, it requires a similar frame of reference. With younger women, I feel as if I am always in charge. There’s no equality, because I am expected to mentor, mold, and direct. Some men like this, but personally, I find it exhausting.”
“I find older women are less into histrionics and drama and have a more developed sense of self. They tend to be more satisfied with who they are. I find maturity attractive. The calm and serenity of a woman who has taken care of herself both internally and externally are beautiful.”
“There’s less time spent playing games and more time to just enjoy being together. I apologize for speaking of women as objects, but I compare an older woman to a ripe piece of fruit. When fruit isn’t ripe, it’s hard, not inviting, not vulnerable. When it’s ripe, it’s juicy, sweeter, softer, more giving, not so rigid.”
Here are some observations from the women I interviewed about what they found better about relationships at this age:
“I am so much surer about who I am. I have so much more confidence and self-esteem, so I don’t look to a man to give it to me. I can be myself. I am not constantly adjusting my thinking, my feelings, and my needs to accommodate the man I am with.” (Without exception, every woman I talked with echoed this one point.)
“I know what I want, and I get it. I don’t lower my standards, nor do I sacrifice my integrity for a man. Everything is much cleaner and clearer.”
“I’m not on the emotional merry-go-round I was on when I was younger. I’m more calm and serene and therefore more present. I think I’m much more fun to be with, and I sure as hell know I have more fun.”
“When I was younger, I felt I needed to please a man to keep him around and taking care of me. Now I can please a man because I love him and want to. Sex is pure pleasure now rather than a means to an end.”
“I’m not worried about making some terrible mistake that will ruin it all. I feel confident that I am bringing something to the relationship.”
“I don’t have to do significant, impressive things to convince myself I’m in a good relationship. I can have a wonderful day just being with my man watching old movies.”
As older women, we also have more energy to “indulge” in a relationship than we did when we were younger. Though we may be busier, usually the energy that was required to prove ourselves in a career or as mothers has relaxed. Even men who tend to be strongly involved in their careers in their twenties and thirties are often more available when they are older. They have time to explore themselves with another person and are much more able to focus on what is possible in a relationship. Often they are motivated by their regret at not having been around and available when they were younger and now feel they missed out on seeing their children grow up.
In my own marriage, though I have more to juggle than ever with two children and a career, I feel more present and more able to dwell in the moment. I don’t mean just during our times alone but in our everyday conversations, which are less about the business of living together and managing a family and more about the random thoughts, ideas, and other inner workings of the mind and soul.
Times Have Changed
Thirty or forty years ago, writing this book would have been thought as absurd as writing a “how-to” book for your home office. Of course, there were single women after forty but not enough of them to warrant a book.
Mostly, we felt sorry for them. Usually, the woman was single because she was a widow, something she was expected never to get over. “Poor Jane. She just lost her husband. She’s just a shell of her former self.” If the woman was divorced, no matter what the circumstances, she often fared worse. Perhaps she had cheated on her husband, had a drinking problem, or was simply a pitiful victim, stupid for having gotten involved with the jerk. And if she was the victim, she ought to look the part, because if she looked happy, confident, and attractive, then she had somehow brought it on herself. “Irreconcilable differences” did not exist as a legitimate reason for breaking up a marriage–whether in a courtroom or just among family and friends.
Someone who was neither divorced nor widowed was also suspect and perhaps an even greater mystery. The labels of bachelor and spinster were dreaded and shameful. You never knew exactly what it was, but certainly, something was very wrong. Either the person was a homosexual, then a horribly frightening curse to be hidden from everyone (why do you think “the closet” was conceived?) or mentally defective (when I was a child, my only unmarried relative was a cousin who was retarded) or probably the worst stigma, just plain unwanted.
In addition to classifying “older” people looking for a relationship as second-class citizens, there was an underlying feeling that love, romance, courtship, and marriage were open only to the young. Even married couples on television or in films were rarely shown as passionate toward each other.
The term single didn’t really come into use until the late seventies. Before then, you were either a teenager, a student, or someone who was “dating.” After age thirty, none of these “cute” terms applied, so you fell into the category of “un.” You were unmarried, which implied unfinished and perhaps unwanted. This was something to be hidden; you were someone of whom to be wary; there definitely was little possibility of regarding the future with a positive outlook.
But, thank God, times have changed! Now more than 40 percent of the adult population is unmarried, and it is considered normal–and in many cases, even enviable–to be forty, fifty, or sixty and single. Unfortunately, however, the stigma of being single has survived and still is very much alive in small pockets of the population. This stigma is primarily concentrated in two locations–your parents and yourself. Your parents I can’t deal with. I had a hard enough time dealing with my own. But in Chapter 2, I will talk about how you can eradicate this outdated, unproductive, and bothersome attitude.
My previous books all stemmed from my personal experience, enhanced with the experiences of others who have taken my seminars and classes. Because I was thirty-two when I met my husband, for this book I have relied on research and observation. I must admit I wasn’t encouraged when I started out. In fact, at one point I told a close friend, “Here I am, almost fifty, and if something happened to Tony, how would I ever find a fabulous relationship? Any man I’d be interested in would want a thirty-year-old, and you know what? I wouldn’t blame him.”
Fortunately, from interviewing many women after forty who have found “the best ever” relationships, I have dug my way out of that deep, dark hole. For those of you who would like to do the same, sing hallelujah, this book is for you. I have uncovered their secret to finding true happiness for themselves, including when they are not in a relationship. This book gives you access to that secret and then gives you all the appropriate actions to take to find the relationship of your dreams. Many of these actions can also be found in my book How Not to Stay Single, but they have been revised and updated here to work for women after the age of forty.