It is a sad fact, universally acknowledged, that my next significant birthday will launch me into a half century.
I can’t say that I am thrilled about that.
I approached my 40th birthday with some excitement. Life was going pretty well thank you very much, and I felt like reaching this milestone would finally allow me to join the ranks of the proper grown ups.
In the event, things worked out rather differently to how I had imagined. At the time I was writing a different blog, and I wrote about my fortieth birthday here. You can read it if you like…
Anyway, I’m feeling rather less positive about being 50. It’s as if in the decade between turning 40 and turning 50, I’ve rushed along developmentally, succeeded in becoming a grown up and then peaked too soon and joined the geriatrics. All in one very fast decade. When I went to renew my drivers license I was not allowed a 10 year one – because I am too old. Perhaps they think I will not make it through the next 10 years so there is no point in me wasting time and money on my drivers license. Or perhaps they think I will lose my marbles. Who knows. All I know is that it made me feel very, very old.
But the other thing that makes me feel very old – and very tired – is the idea that when I turn 50 I might (probably) still be single. Not that being single in itself is so bad, but because there is something – in my mind anyway – so deeply tragic about dating at that age that I’ve decided that when that time comes I shall retire gracefully and invest in some cats. And perhaps some knitting needles.
In the meantime though*, I continue to be a woman in her late 40s who often finds herself on dates with men who are around 50, many of whom are very interesting. I really don’t have anything against dating men in this age group except for one thing – they seem to have little or no understanding of female sexuality.
Take, for example, a recent unhappy experience, which sadly has not been unique – either to me, or to other single girlfriends.
I met a man on an online dating site. He was funny and we had some shared interests, so based on that I agreed to meet him on a Sunday afternoon in a café. We met and the conversation flowed freely over a pot of Earl Grey Tea. And then, after we’d finished our tea – just the one pot – he asked me whether I’d like to go round to his place – with an unmistakeable glint in his eye which sadly I’ve seen way too often.
Now, had George Clooney or Zac Efron** turned up that café, there is chance that I might have viewed an invitation to join one or other of them (or maybe both of them!) at their place with some excitement. I might even have suggested we give the Earl Grey a miss and get right to it.
As it was, the man sitting across the table from me looked like a fairly average 50 year old. Balding, a bit of a paunch and slightly suspect dress sense. None of this stopped him, of course, from being interesting, even potentially attractive, given the chance to get to know him. But the thing is this. When you are a balding, slightly overweight man who has reached his half century and is wearing a shirt that screams ‘I don’t have a partner and haven’t had for a while’, you are going to need to do more than provide me with a pot of Earl Grey Tea to facilitate the removal of my underwear.
The reality is that at our ages we can’t just rely on our physical presence and a cuppa to provide enough of a frisson to persuade someone to join us in the bedroom. Or at least men who meet me can’t, and I suspect I am not alone.
It’s not that men who are 50 are not attractive. It’s more that actually they have so much more to offer than they allow me to discover if they move straight from cups of tea to bedroom gymnastics. It’s going to be rare that you meet a man in my age group who – by virtue purely of their physicality – makes you stop in your tracks and try to drag them off to the nearest boudoir. But I’m sure that – or at least I hope that – there are men who are willing to let me get to know them, and are interested in getting to know me, so that we can both discover what else we have to offer beyond our now less than perfect bodies that might make us want to find out what’s beneath our clothes.
But that takes a bit of time, gentlemen, a bit more effort, and more than a pot of tea.
*because I’m not actually 50 until 2018, but I’m preparing myself psychologically
**my fantasy man. Inappropriately young, but such a fine specimen of a man I’m pretty certain no one is really immune to his charms. Not that I’m seeking someone who looks like that – chance would be a fine thing! That’s a picture of him up there, in case you don’t know who he is. You’re welcome.