December 9, 1: It is not a term that I — nor, I suspect, anyone else not coupled-up in their fifties — is that keen on. It makes us sound like we spend our Older women with black men forlornly signalling to each other across a creaky old dance floor by waving our Zimmer frames, while our hearing aids whistle shrilly.
Being over 50 is not old, these days. I know fiftysomething women who are running marathons, starting businesses … I even met one recently who had just won her class in an Iron Man contest basically a triathlon on steroids for age But there is a definite demographic shift going on when it comes to our relationships.
New figures from the Office For National Statistics show that while the divorce rate continues to fall overall, the trend is not mirrored by the over-fifties.
We are now the only group whose divorce rate is actually rising. At 51 years old and single, I am now part of a growing group surfing a zeitgeistian wave of plus freedom. And, in my experience, this is the best age yet for flying solo.
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In my teens, I waited by the phone for a boy, any boy, to call. In my twenties it was all high drama, getting my heart broken and dating rotters. During my thirties, my biological clock meant I needed a partner if I wanted children. My forties were spent dealing with the romantic hangover of my thirties — divorce and being a single parent to small children. There is such a joy to being able to do whatever you want without permission. Her life was completely uncompromised and I can entirely relate to her contentment.
As a nutritionist and hypnotherapist, I see many fiftysomething women.
They come to me because they want to lose their menopausal tummies. Yet, dig a little deeper, and what they really want to divest themselves of is the big lump in the armchair called their husband.
Their comfort eating and drinking is often a symptom of their unhappiness — but a fear of being alone stops them from tackling the real problem. I am lucky though. My mother is pretty self-sufficient, for now.
My children are becoming more independent and this is my golden time. I can do as I please. I can be fabulously, unashamedly selfish.
I can go on holiday when and where I want, I can eat the food I fancy and spend my money exactly as I please.
Of course, having three children, aged nine, 13 and 16, does clip my wings a bit. And indeed, concern for them is another important factor in why I am not flinging myself at the first available man.
But, even if that were an option having teen children is a pretty good boyfriend repellent, I findI am still very, very picky. Do we fancy fewer people as we Older women with black men older?
Or maybe our patience for bad or boring behaviour is lessened by the ebbing of a biological need or ability to reproduce. It certainly takes courage to be single in your fifties.
Those who remain married into their fifth decade can sometimes wear their marriage like a status symbol.
But role models for a new normal are emerging. Thrice-married actress Kim Cattrall, who celebrated her 60th birthday this year, says of her single status: I feel in that area, romantically, retired.
I did register with a well-known online dating site a while back.
It promised to match me with my perfect partner. At 51 years old and single, I am part of a growing group.