*Like most people, I had a vision for what my life should be. I believed that by the time I turned 50 I would have a beautiful life with a beautiful wife. I daydreamed that we would be a chic lesbian couple, spoiling our grandchildren. Trips to Disneyland and Paris would be on our extended bucket list. And yet, here I am, a single lesbian faced with the daunting task of dating at 50.
The concept of dating again at this age is overwhelming. I cringe at the thought of having to “learn” someone new. The cliché “the older you get the more set in your ways you become” crossed my mind. What does dating even look like in this age of social media and instant gratification? Texting is the preferred mode of communication and Snapchat is voyeuristic entertainment. What happened to the allure of meaningful conversations and talking on the phone until the sun comes up? What happened to those sexy, intimate, hushed exchanges where you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to share your fears, hopes and dreams with someone?
Those things are gone, replaced with newer, more direct rituals. For instance, I have conflicting feelings about the lusty pictures of voluptuous women young enough to be my daughters that show up in my Direct Message inbox. After receiving a stunningly beautiful image recently, I admit to tilting the phone to get the full effect, my eyes tracing the youthful curves of her body. I pursed my lips as I thought of the song “Down in the DM” by rapper Yo Gotti: It go down in the DM, I seen your girl post her BM, so I hit her in her DM. Getting such a brazen invitation from a virtual to enjoy a fleeting encounter wouldn’t even have been a thought 20 years ago. However flattering these overtures may seem, my thoughts about them are just that … fleeting.
My closest friends try to help with advice in my dating journey. During a recent girl’s night gathering, my best friend posed another question: “Are you looking for a sex kitten or a cougar?” Her question was simple yet complex, joking yet serious, and I had to ponder over my answer.
A “sex kitten,” slang for a younger woman, could be comforting for my bruised ego. But I had long thought that I wanted to be with someone my own age. We cackled as I divulged that an online sex kitten had attempted to get me to return her “ass shot” with one of my own. I recalled how my fingers had feverishly stroked the keys as I responded, “Little girl … why are you in my inbox? I am old enough to be your mother.” The tone of her response was inviting: ”But you don’t look like my mother.” Temptation crossed my mind for a split second. Why not? Men do it. Society has double standards for women who date younger partners, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual. Still, both of my best friends of 30 years have partners who are 12 and 13 years younger. The vigor of their youth is refreshing and sexually stimulating. I watch as these young women fawn over my friends, who seem happier than I’ve seen them in years.
Then, there are “cougars.” I took a swig of my beer as we talked about the plusses of dating older women. The idea of being “courted” by a grown woman is appealing. Spontaneous invitations to sun-soaked beaches crossed my mind. Perhaps I will meet an older woman who is strong and confident, someone who will be courageous enough to openly love all of who I am. She will laugh at our differences while cherishing our similarities. She could teach me the importance of living in the moment, as we have more years behind us than in front of us.
In thinking about these options, I had been ashamed to admit that the process of finding love again felt foreign and intimidating. I realized that I needed to get clear about who I really am to be able to find a worthy partner. So, I asked myself a question that I wasn’t sure I could answer: Who am I, outside of my son’s mother and my ex’s significant other? What do I have to offer to an authentic relationship?
I had an epiphany as I reminisced about my childhood. The memories reminded me of the demons I had battled trying to overcome a number of painful issues: the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, the wounds of being bullied in high school for being an out lesbian, and the pain of being disowned by my father for loving women. A stillness came over me as I realized that I had already overcome obstacles that no one thought I could. I have survived with a positive spirit. Today I am a strong woman who has learned how to love the right way because of the wrongs I had suffered through.
Still, back at the party, yearning filled my heart as I gazed at my friends embracing their partners. Their age differences do not define them. They are not lesbian stereotypes, but women sharing their lives. They gave me hope as I watched them dance and whisper sweet nothings into each other’s ears.
In that moment, I realized that I love who I’m becoming. For the first time in my life, I know that I’m not looking for a “sex kitten” or a “cougar.” I’m not looking for anyone. At any age, we are all looking to connect. I am going to become the woman I pray God will send me.
Monika M. Pickett is a veteran of the United States Army. Her debut novel, PRETTY BOY BLUE is available on Amazon. Pickett is an advocate and activist for the LGBTQ community. For more information on Monika M. Pickett, please visit, www.MonikaMPickett.com. For other inquiries email: [email protected]