Many SWOFties are seeking new partners and reigniting their love lives.
If you cast your mind back to before you lost your virginity, the chances are that you were anxious about it.
Getting sexually active again, after a break, can feel equally nerve-racking. But, take heart. Basically the act hasn’t changed since you last did it! And hopefully you’ll fit well with your new lover, and you’ll have a good time.
In 2010, there are so many mid-life, single women that the Department for Work and Pensions has given them their own acronym – SWOFties (single women over fifty). And lots of SWOFties are seeking new partners and reigniting their love lives.
Isn’t it great that so many of us of ‘a certain age’ are up for sex? After all, historically, it’s not long ago that women were lucky to even survive into mid-life – let alone have active love lives. We’re so different and so lucky.
Of course, many SWOFties haven’t actually chosen to be single again. And for some, the shock and sense of shame at being dumped out of a long relationship can take ages to get over. And this can make the idea of dating again rather daunting.
And even if you’re one of those women who has elected to leave a boring or unhappy relationship – with the aim of finding someone more to your taste before it’s too late – you may still be nervous about getting close to someone new.
It has to be said that sex isn’t top of everyone’s agenda. Plenty of men and women feel it’s over-rated.
Well, that’s fine for them. But if you’re reading this article, the chances are that you’re keen to start making love again. Perhaps you’re hoping to have the best sex you’ve had yet. Maybe you’ve gone through life feeling that your love-life has been rather humdrum, or that you’ve missed out in some way. Well, it’s never too late to find out.
Many scientists believe that sex is good for you, and that sexually-active people look younger than celibate ones. Some experts put this down to oxytocin (often described as ‘the bonding hormone’).
They say that when we have happy and loving sex, this boosts the amount of oxytocin in our blood streams, which not only helps us feel close to our partners, but it also combats stress chemicals – such as cortisol.
But whether or not you’re interested in the various scientific claims, it’s certainly fair to say that many people feel better about life, and about themselves, when they’re in a close, sexual relationship and they get useful physical exercise between the sheets.
Finding a new guy is much easier for us than it was for women in previous generations. We tend to have wider social circles than our mothers and grandmothers. And we have the benefit of dating ads in mainstream newspapers, and internet dating.
The great thing about dating in mid-life is you no longer have to find a man with quality sperm to be the father of your children. This means you can really widen your horizons.
If you’re having trouble attracting the right guy, it might interest you to know that the head of an exclusive introduction agency told me that many mid-life women could improve their chances by growing their hair slightly and losing half a stone.
Now, you may feel that any male worth having should be less interested in outward appearances and more interested in the real you. Still, you may want to consider whether you’re making the best of your assets.
Personally, I think that the most important thing you can do is smile. When I speak to mid-life men about what they want, they say they’re looking for a warm, enthusiastic, kind and smiling woman. They also tell me what they don’t want – which is someone who moans on and on about her ex, especially on a first date.
Confidence and sex
While I was writing my most recent book – ‘Too young to get old’ – I posted a questionnaire for female baby boomers on my website. As a result, I got some fascinating information.
For example, about a third of respondents said they liked sex ‘a lot’. A similar number ‘quite liked it’. And about 16 per cent told me they might like it more if they had a new partner!
But even more interestingly, 72 per cent of the women, who filled in the questionnaire, said that the best thing about getting older was increased confidence.
Isn’t this marvellous? So, use that confidence to good effect and don’t settle for anything or anybody who isn’t good for you.
Preparing for sex
If you haven’t had sex for a while, you may be worried that it will hurt. And it certainly could be that your genitals may feel more fragile or dry than when you were last sexually active – particularly if you are menopausal.
If you are, you may want to read about the menopause.
A practical – and fun – thing you can do prior to having sex again is to get into practice by masturbating – with or without a vibrator. This will give you confidence that everything is working and that you’re capable of feeling aroused.
Lubrication, this is something you’ll almost certainly need. Don’t be shy about this. Apparently, lesbian couples buy lube by the bucketful. It’s only heterosexual women who feel embarrassed that they need this kind of help. Dry sex is painful sex. So, treat yourself to something lovely, like the ever-popular Liquid Silk.
If you find that ordinary lubricants are not enough, you might want to discuss this problem with your doctor or practice nurse.
Many women in mid-life find that the occasional use of an oestrogen cream makes sex easier. But you will have to get this on prescription.
Some women of course prefer to be on HRT. This is something you need to discuss with your GP.
What not to worry about
Your lover may be anxious too – for example about his receding hair line or whether or not you’re going to like his penis.
Women often worry terribly about the state of their naked body in the bedroom – especially about cellulite.
Now, I see many male clients, and I can tell you that I’ve never heard any of them say that cellulite puts them off. In fact, I don’t think 99 per cent of them know what it is. So, stop worrying.
You may also be worried that your tummy is fatter than it once was or that your breasts are a bit droopy. But basically these things are unlikely to worry your partner.
Don’t forget that your lover may not exactly be an oil painting himself. Also, he will have his own worries. He may be anxious about his receding hair line, whether or not you’re going to like his penis – and if he might climax too quickly or lose his erection.
So, my best tip is to focus on him and be encouraging. Try not to think about your supposed flaws.
Something you should worry about
If you’re a baby boomer like me, the chances are you haven’t had much use for condoms recently, if ever. We were the Pill generation and lots of us didn’t get sexually active till we were on it. And plenty of us were in faithful relationships during the big AIDS scares in the mid-80s, so we didn’t need to think about safe sex.
Well, if we’re getting sexually active with someone new, we certainly need to think about safe sex now.
Unfortunately, men don’t go around with a label on their forehead declaring that they have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). He may even say he was faithful to his ex-wife for 20 years. But you don’t know this to be true. And even if it is, you don’t know that she was faithful to him.
So, always insist that he wears a condom. I know it might feel embarrassing to discuss this with him, but you’ll probably find it less worrying than having to go along to the genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic if you pick up something.
Because of the increased STI prevalence in older lovers, the FPA has launched a campaign called ‘Middle-aged spread’. They tell us that in 2009, more men over 45 contracted genital herpes than men aged 16 to 19. And the rates of STIs in adults over 45 were double what they had been in 2000.