When I stumbled onto Stephanie Dolgoff’s photo in my Facebook sidebar, a girl I babysat for when I was around 12, and her 6, it prompted me to her awesome site, FormerlyHOT.com, a blog essentially about no longer being the chick she was for most of her life. We connected, bonded for about 17 seconds (we are New Yorkers) and discussed her blog which then, was a soon to be released book, now a New York Times bestseller. After learning that I was a single parent who had in the last year braved the whacky world of online dating, she mentioned that her readers had often inquired about dating as a “Formerly,” and that she would love my perspective on love and sex as a Formerly. I was thrilled to say the least, not only because this woman is a real talent, and one I respect and admire, but because writing about these self-explorations were so cathartic for me. Here is the piece I did for her in the late fall. Enjoy!
Sometime after dreading the inevitable 40th birthday, I felt the onset of a strange optimism, a renewed confidence. It was just after 9/11. I remember the feeling of helplessness as I watched the tragic events of that day unfold like millions of others from a TV screen. I was living in DC, but as an ex-New Yorker, it was especially painful to not be there to help.
Those few hours would change everything for me; specifically my perspective on what really mattered in life. Time was suddenly precious. I felt as if my new life was just starting and this new outlook affected how I thought about dating. I no longer needed those barriers I had put up that suggested cynicism and insecurity. It was about approaching dating again with the same innocence and excitement of youth, and discarding as a load of crap that notion that your 40’s were considered middle age and all downhill.
What I didn’t anticipate was becoming a mother at 41–a single-mother. Finding myself pregnant with a less than ecstatic prospective father, I resigned myself to parenting alone. I took a deep breath and was thankful that age and maturity would be my guide. Somehow, I would survive as I always had, but never would I have imagined that becoming a single-mom late in life would fill a void—one that apparently eliminated my need for sex and intimacy…for seven years!
Last year, my son ordered me back into circulation with a thumbs-up. The sense of freedom to have a sexual existence again was exhilarating and empowering, as well as a bit foreign. I was 48 by then and had briefly entertained the notion that I might not be as alluring as I had once been as a Formerly Hot twenty-something. These doubts were very soon dispelled. Shortly after posting a profile on a popular online dating site, along with a few of my best photos, I was floored by the barrage of male attention and the extent to which I was pursued (much more so than in my ‘hot’ youth.)
Dating at this age was a revelation. I loved the attention, but didn’t worry about where each date would lead. I learned, among other things, that sex without love could be still be loving and passionate. I knew what I didn’t want and didn’t waste my time with those that fell short. I had always been no-nonsense (clearly my New York upbringing), but something about getting older and the realization that your prime years are limited, force you to say what you mean and what you feel, skipping the mind games altogether. Clearly that aura of confidence showed.
One of the best suprises: Sex had become infinitely better than ever before, because of experience, independence, and frankly, just not giving a damn.