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Reflections on Turning 50

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Rebecca Lowrie, The Sexual Alchemist, reflects on turning 50 and what that means for the next 50 years.

What were you doing on New Year’s Eve this year? Partying, spending time with family, reflecting on the past year and thinking about your year ahead?

I was celebrating my 50th birthday.

You could say I was equally ready and thrilled and also a little bit shocked. I mean,50!

Sounds so old in some ways and yet I feel like I’m just warming up! There’s so much I still want to accomplish and do and create and experience.

Just Getting Started

It fascinates me and gives me hope that great people such as Louise Hay and Steven Covey didn’t start their life’s work until later in their 50’s.

I often get emails from men saying, I’m having this or that problem, and I’m in my 50’s, so it’s probably my age.

No! It’s usually nothing to do with your age! There are plenty of people our age who are perfectly healthy with great sex lives.

Whatever it is, it’s more likely down to the culmination of your conditioning, thoughts, habits and beliefs. I can help you clear, heal and transform those!

Maybe if we believe that we go downhill with age, that’s what we create.

I choose to believe that I’m going to age like a fine wine or a smelly cheese – the older the better!

I feel excited and energised about turning 50. I feel like now I can really focus in on making a difference in the world. I know myself so much better now than I ever did when I was younger.

Dr John Demartini 50

In May of 2015 I did a workshop with Dr John Demartini. He asked us what our 100-year goal was. What legacy did we want to leave? How did we want the world to be different because we were in it?

That question has stayed with me ever since. It’s such a big question! Why aren’t we asked that when we’re younger and looking for direction and purpose?

I don’t think I have a complete answer to it yet, but here’s what I’ve got so far:

My 100 Year Goals

  • In 100 years’ time, when I’ve been dead for about 50 years (I’m planning to live to 100!), I would like humanity to have evolved beyond fear, shame and guilt around sexuality.
  • I would like the majority of the population to feel liberated and free to own, enjoy, celebrate and fully embrace their sexual nature, their sexual selves.
  • I would like humanity to have a much deeper understanding and experience of sexual energy and of their own true power.
  • I would like there to be a much deeper understanding of how our sexual energy is meant for so much more than the sex we currently know and I would like to have obliterated the limited belief for many that sex = penetration.
  • I would like humanity to be living much more authentically as a whole, in harmony and balance with the self, each other, nature, animals, the stars the planets and to understand how their sexual energy plays a crucial role in that.
  • I would like humanity to understand, fully and deeply, that we must own and accept all of who we are, our light and our dark, our hero and our villain, our sinner and our saint  in order to live our truth, in order to be really present and authentic, in order to create nourishing relationships.
  • Ultimately, I would like to have done my part to help heal what I believe is the greatest human wound, the ‘I’m not enough’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ wound. 50Mistakes And Wisdom

Thankfully, if I’m going to live to 100, I have another 50 years to create and leave my legacy. In some ways it doesn’t feel like nearly enough time. I mentioned that to a friend recently. She pointed out that 50 years ago it was illegal to be gay in many countries and states and now, in many places, we have marriage equality finally blossoming.

So if I have another 50 years, that means I have my whole life to live over again! Only this time I have the added advantage of having already made a whole bunch of mistakes. This time I can avoid those particular mistakes and make some brand new ones. Hopefully that will help me learn quicker. Also, I don’t have the same fear of mistakes and failure as I used to.

Since I’m starting this part of my life with some experience and wisdom under my belt, I can make different choices moving forward. I can make choices that nurture my soul instead of hurt or squash it. I can be more conscious about who I hang around with, what I eat and how I spend my time.

I am so grateful for the glorious, messy, wonderful, painful and very rich 50 years I’ve already had, and I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years bring.

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places: Episode 5

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He turned up in a scruffy t-shirt, unshaven, reeking of fags. His hair was well past his ears and looked, frankly, ridiculous. Welcome to the world of Fab Swingers. Last week I decided to go back to my spiritual home and logged into a site I hadn’t used for nearly a decade. Back in 2006-2009 I was a regular there and remembered having some good times with a handful of handsome, kinky men. Having zipped through Craigslist and Plenty of Fish in a couple of weeks, going on ‘Fab’ (as it’s known by its regulars) seemed the logical next step on my journey to find love in all the wrong places.

How wrong could wrong be? I was about to find out. Find love? I’d be surprised if anyone on Fab even gets laid, which surely is the point of a swinging site. Never have I seen so many disembodied penises in one place. I like a nicely shaped penis just as much as any straight woman but I’ve always preferred them attached to a body and a brain. These are penises seemingly without owners. Shaved penises. Circumcised ones. Penises that are curved and others that are long and straight. If you’re ever in a situation where you’re being asked to prove that not all penises have been created equal, you only need search by men on Fab. But where were the faces and bodies to accompany them? And why, for heaven’s sake, were the few profile pics on the site so, damn small? At my age, it’s hard enough to make out the features of a man on a 3”x5” print; never mind one that is just over an inch square.

The eternal optimist, I decided to give the site a go anyway. My heart was not really in it but the guy I arranged to meet lived within walking distance and, if you’ve learned anything about me by now, it’s that I don’t drive. Steve (not his real name) was bisexual, had a stall on Portobello and dabbled in photography. He also held a weekly swinging party at his house and Fab being a sort of Yelp for swingers, had reviews to prove it. ‘His blowjob was a bit lackluster,’ read one. ‘Must try harder next time.’ I’d seen his picture but it was so small and so blurry, he could have been a George Clooney look-a-like and I wouldn’t have been able to tell.

The meet was a disaster. We had very little in common and the tobacco smell wafting around my nose didn't help either. When he complained about the price of the prosecco, "£7? Now I know why I don't come here very often," I knew we were going nowhere fast. Within 30 minutes I was out the door of the pub, having made an emergency call to a girlfriend. Within the hour, I was comfortably settled next to her in a comfy armchair at Picturehouse Central watching the real George Clooney on a big screen where I could make out all his lovely wrinkles and was feeling far better for it. When I got home I quickly deleted my profile off Fab. Enough of that nonsense!

It hasn't been all bad. I did have a very nice time with a Tinder guy just recently. If I’m honest with myself, while he may not be perfect, he does tick the sexy, smart and fun boxes. Being a woman of discretion (hah!), I am not saying more than that. 😉 Sayonara for now and hope to see some of you at the Advantages of Age Launch party on the 23rd June! Click here for a FREE ticket. It's going to be a good night.

Looking for love in all the wrong places: Episode 4

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Week four (or five, I’ve lost count) of my quest to find love in all the wrong places and already I am exhausted, bored and frustrated. Gone are the halcyon days of the Internet, when online dating was self-selective and exciting. Back in the very early 2000’s, when far fewer people owned a computer than they do now, you could almost be guaranteed that anyone you met on an online dating site had a degree, and almost certainly worked in IT, Law or the Media. I have friends that I met over 15 years ago on dating sites that I’m still friendly with today. There was the very sexy war correspondent, the hilarious computer game’s writer, various lawyers and much more. I didn’t actually have sex with all of them but that wasn’t the point. They were interesting, articulate people that I would never have met in real life.

Contrast that to now when every man and his dog are online and the sifting process alone is enough to make me want to crawl under the duvet and never come out. Never mind that text-speak has become so ubiquitous, no matter what the age of the correspondent. Everyone online seems to think that it’s OK to spell “I” as i or “you” as u. It drives me crazy. I can almost forgive my university-educated son when he does it on his CV. It’s much harder to forgive a 50-something man who really should know better.

On the positive side, it’s easy to get a date. Some things never change, no matter what one’s age. Sure, it would help if I shaved 10 years off but I’m not that desperate… yet. Since my last post, I managed to fit in another date with Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome before he flew off on holiday for a week. Since his return, he’s not been back in touch and the Internet being largely unpredictable, I suspect he has had second thoughts or found a new play pal. I can pretend not to care but I do. He was lovely, local and had potential. Not boyfriend material (too many issues) but in a would-you-like-to-come-over-and-chill-out kind of way. For a moment, I thought I’d found Mr. Right for Now. Now I’m waiting for some kind of closure while appreciating that is asking for the moon, especially from a person whom one has met on Craigslist. The goodbye chat, face to face, was pretty much de rigueur before the Internet came along; now everyone knows that if they don’t text you back, it’s over.

One of my new rules about online dating is to take myself off a new site within a week of going on. I post my profile; gather up all the responses from the men happy to see a newbie and then bugger off after securing a date or two. I don’t want to appear like the house that has been on the market for 3 months and clearly has rising damp or some structural issues. No way. I stayed on Craigslist just long enough to meet someone interesting and then I deleted my post and republished it on Plenty of Fish. Once there, I arranged and had one date with a fun guy working in the Arts and then deleted my profile once again. We spent a lovely, platonic evening together but after he confessed to sharing parenting responsibilities with his ex, I couldn’t see a future for us aside from as friends. I have no desire to spend my precious weekends with someone's else's child, having just seen my own off so recently. At 55, I have a pretty good idea of what I do and don’t want and being a stepmum to a toddler isn't one of them.

Also, I have to ask myself, is blogging about my dating life again the right thing to do? I’m not 40 anymore. What if one of my potential paramours reads about my adventures and is not amused? Back in my swinging days, the boys I slept with used to get a real rise (!) out of reading about my adventures (especially when they were involved). But I’m no longer a swinger and I actually do want to meet a life partner… eventually. What I’m saying is that this may be my last column. Or not. You’ll just have to come back and find out. 😉

Having it Both Ways: My Marriage Is Partnered Non-Monogamy

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Monogamy is a myth. I know there’s the fairy-tale out there: my one prince/princess charming, the love of my life, will come, and we’ll live happily ever after. But how many of us have had that experience?

I do not know a single person who has never, ever been attracted to someone else while in a monogamous relationship, even if, like Jimmy Carter, they have only “committed adultery in [their] heart many times.”

What is “cheating”? It is the natural desire for sexual variety. It is the explorative, curious impulse. It is horniness when you are away from your partner, or when, for whatever reason, sex with your partner is not working out well. Among other things, that could be because a partner is sick, they’re busy with “the children,” tired from work, etc.

Of course you’ve read a million “solutions”: Spice up your sex life, make time for sex, etc. These are good suggestions, and certainly should be followed if they are needed, but they do not replace the natural urge to “fuck around” sometimes.

What happens when both partners are allowed to pursue sexual interests? The core issue is fear: “Will s/he be younger/more beautiful/better at sex than me, and thus my spouse will want them instead of me?”

Most of my life has been what could be called “serial monogamy,” although in my case it was rarely true monogamy. You see, to me, it is unreasonable to ask someone to pledge sexually fidelity to me for the REST OF THEIR NATURAL LIFE; just the same, I feel that it is unreasonable for ME to pledge lifelong sexual fidelity to anyone.

On the other hand, casual sex is also not really all that much fun FOR EVER. Partnership has its priveledges. Why should sexual fidelity determine one’s ability or desire to be committed and partnered, even possibly for life? If sexual fidelity was not a concern, many people would not have gotten divorced. What usually happens? It is the angry, accusatory and jealous dialogue that ends the relationship; the “cheating” is indicative to betrayal, a wound to the ego, and the secret of it is the worst blow, not the actual sex. People feel their spouse has betrayed them if they “cheat,” and that’s a deal breaker, but what if it wasn’t?

Some people have developed semi-open systems: many sports wives, musician’s wives, etc, know that their spouses will “cheat” on the road, and have rules about how much of that stuff is ok, and where spouses should draw the line. Many people also have double standards, such as when husbands have this unspoken rule: “I can cheat because there are groupies on the road, and they don’t mean anything to me, but you [wife] cannot cheat.” That arrangement is obviously unfair. I’ve been in that relationship, and it doesn’t work well enough for me.

Over the years I’ve combatted the constraints of traditional monogamy in various ways, mostly by having threesomes with my committed, “monogamous” partners. This has helped to release the pressure valve of desire for new pussy and or dick – whichever takes the fancy. For me, “being bisexual doubles your chances for a date on Saturday night,” as the saying goes. I’m lucky to be bisexual, and like it best when my partner (in my life they’ve mostly been male) has been bisexual. Oh, the fun threesomes we can have! But I don’t just want the occasional threesome. I want permission to be myself in my life. I want to be free to fuck someone if I feel like it.

After a life of sexual experimentation and much serial monogamy I finally found a person who isn’t threatened by this fact: a partner who “got it”: my husband Martyn.

In July of 2015, after 10 years of being together, my husband Martyn and I got married. “Why?” Some people ask. Because I cannot imagine ever wanting to be partnered with anyone else, while both of us are alive, because I love him, because we work together so well as a team, because we trust each other, and because we have fun together. We support and comfort each other. We make a home of each other. We cook together, cuddle together, sleep together, have separate interests and pursue them, have common interests and pursue them.  Because this relationship “works.” We call our relationship “partnered non-monogamy.”

What is the result of granting sexual freedom to each other? For me, because I am free to do as I wish, and because I am openly doing this, any sexual adventure I embark upon is safe, sane, and carefully weighed. I think, “Do I really want to do this?” “Do I like the person enough to fuck them? How about we just fool around a little and then I go home and get to get fucked my fabulous husband?” I am more judicious and more selective.

Here’s what I think about myself: I am fuckin’ fantastic. I am a 56 year old lifelong New York City intellectual. I’m 5’6”. I have beautiful long brown hair. I am about 30 lbs overweight. I have a lovely pussy and beautiful tits. I am great in bed. I fuckin’ rock. My husband is the luckiest man on the planet.

It’s actually a lot about self-esteem. I truly know that I am not 20. I don’t have a “perfect” bod, whatever the fuck that is. So if some 23 year old wants to fuck my husband, that’s awesome. He’s awesome! This 23 year old does not threaten me. I think she’s a delightful piece of chocolate picked from a box of yumminess. What a tasty little snack! How could I deny my husband such a treat?

Does he really want a relationship with that 23 year old? Do you want a relationship with a 23 year old? Probably not. Just sexually speaking, often these youngin’s don’t have all that much practice. My sexual skills are rather impressive, if I do say so myself. That is a nice checkmark in my favor. But I am truly not worried. Even if she’s terrific in bed, and I would hope that she would be: it’d be nicer for him: when you get into a relationship with someone you take in all their baggage. Their life becomes a part of your life. That’s a choice we don’t make every day.

In actuality, mostly Martyn and I prefer to have sex with others, together. Why? I, for one, find I am often more comfortable having sex with others when he’s around. I just want to know he’s there. I don’t even have to get his dick inside me. Sometimes it’s about safety and comfort in the situation. Also, it’s fun to come up with creative sexual ideas together and execute them, whether it’s a seduction, a configuration of bodies, or an exploration of a particular kink, and sometimes it’s about compersion.

Compersion is the feeling of happiness or thrill in another person’s pleasure. There is nothing cooler than sitting on the bed, holding a woman’s hands while my husband makes her cum with his tongue. You know how I feel? I feel proud: proud at how good my husband is at giving head, happy that he is enjoying himself, happy that she is loving it, and, frankly, it turns me on. These sexual experiences do not lessen me. They make me happy; they keep me interested, and they make us better partners. We share these intimate moments. We rejoice in each other’s pleasure, and we don’t live in fear.

Partnered non-monogamy: love yourself and give it a try. For us, it has made our love continue to grow. “‘Til death do us part.” That doesn’t sound so bad to me these days. This, I can do.

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places: Episode 3

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Well, what can I say? Just a few weeks ago, I was quite convinced that my sex drive had gone on a Victorian tour of Europe and had settled down somewhere in a bohemian hotel in Marrakech, having decided never to return. Then I went on a date with a handsome, dark stranger that I met off of Craigslist (yes, really!) that turned into a frenzied and passionate few hours in bed, reminding me of what I’d been missing. I’m not sure which Suzanne I prefer - the one with no libido or the one with the ravenous sexual appetite. Life being what it is - busy, unpredictable and full of surprises, we have not seen each other again. I am not tremendously bothered. As Doris Day once sang, ‘Que sera, sera.’

Amongst many of the advantages of age (and don’t let anyone tell you there aren’t any) is that I’m not pining or doing the weird, creepy, stalky stuff I used to do in my twenties. I haven’t just ‘happened’ to have passed by his flat, hoping he might be staring out the window and spot me. I’m perfectly prepared for the fact that our one encounter may have been just that - a very satisfying one night stand that got me back in the saddle.

In the meantime, my enthusiasm for craigslist has waned. I may have lucked out with Mr. Dark and Handsome but my one other date was a non-starter. Despite him revealing his Dom side (never a bad thing) and sending me a pic of his toy collection (a strap on, flogger, paddle and crop), I was not impressed when he then followed it up with the naked picture. I may come off sounding like a prude but gone are the days when I want to see a picture of a middle-aged, naked man, standing in front of his bathroom mirror, before we’ve exchanged bodily fluids.

While my own boys, now both in their twenties, have received their fair share of late night, drunken texts (millennials don’t seem to do the naked pic thing like baby boomers), even they have worked out that retaining an air of mystery is part of the game. It’s undignified and a little desperate when a fifty-something woman feels the need to send a naked pic of her not-quite-so-perky breasts to a fifty-something man, never mind the other way around. I prefer undressing in real rather than virtual life. It’s harder for either party to run away when you’ve both committed to getting naked in front of each other.

I’ve now deleted myself off Craigslist and moved onto another, free site to see whether Mr. Right for Now might be lurking there. So far, there seem to be disproportionately more single men that live in Bromley than the rest of the UK. It is not a place to which I would like to visit.

I’ve also decided that there’s no point beating around the bush. If I do want someone with whom to share life’s experiences or even just a glass of wine on a fairly regular basis (which would be good enough for now), I need to let as many people as possible know. And I mean everyone - from my hairdresser to the woman who stamps my post to my friends and casual acquaintances. I’ve seen friends rely on the digital world to deliver a partner and waste hours or even years of their life. Surely amongst my five hundred or so Facebook friends there has to be one who knows someone with whom I might be compatible.

So, there you have it. It has been three weeks since my quest began and I’ve had two dates, one shag and written about 85 emails (most no longer than a sentence or two). It’s still very early days and I’m still hopeful. Stay tuned for the next installment…

I Blame the Gin

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A number of years ago, in my mid 40s, I fell madly, wildly, secretly, unrequitedly, sexually in love with someone half my age. I was stunned. I felt like David Byrne had taken residence in my head, dancing around singing, 'How did I get here?' My body was on fire. I was obsessed and had to work my way through it in small, insignificant steps. It was one of the most powerfully sexual, non-sexual, experiences of my life and it reminded me how much of a sexual being I am. How important sex has always been to me as a physical, emotional and spiritual act.

There were hideous days of sitting in the British Library trying to research my thesis (since abandoned) and being overwhelmed with words, poetry, prose; anything but the intellectual analysis I had signed up to deliver. I was earning my living as the Creative Director of a participative theatre, art and media charity which I had set up to create projects with and for communities. I had long been interested in Boal's 'Forum Theatre' and I put together projects that I hoped would give children and adults opportunities to express themselves through the arts. The projects I loved and was proudest of were those where audience/participants developed new skills, confidence or created something unexpected. I sometimes worked with actors, taking shows into communities or schools, using forum techniques to start discussions and have audiences perform their ‘solutions’ to problems. My thesis was on developing criteria to evaluate participative arts, looking particularly at ‘The aesthetics of participation’.

AITN9556 In my spare time, I worked as site-specific and participative artist.   I had come from a performance background, but had long given up being a jobbing actor. I had considered that part of my life over. However, this new energy, this sexual energy, was so overwhelming strong, that it could only be played out in particular ways. I could either give myself over to it, pursuing the object of my desire, or I could attempt to temper my, by now almost impossibly urgent, feelings and rein my passions in through art. I chose the latter, starting a poetry blog and finding building that into a site-specific performance called “TIME=MONEY” a 1-2-1 intimate poetry performance which I took to the Brighton Fringe Festival in 2013, winning a 'WINDOW' award as a promising company. It was just me and an audience member, separated by a thin mosquito net, in a bespoke venue that we erected ourselves. My partner in the project, Immo Horn, acted as 'front of house' ushering people in and out. The performances were intense, direct and, I am told, weirdly sexy.

In the 2 years since that performance, I have moved on. My new show is called 'Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, More: LOVE!' I’ve gone from being separated from the audience by a mosquito net and speaking to them only in poetry, to doing a full facilitated 60min show, as myself, using my own name and singing, dancing and telling stories about my dating disasters.

The show is about learning to date again in your 50s. I turned 50 last year and slowly began to realise that the promised ‘post-menopausel disinterest in sex’ was not going to happen for me. In fact, it hasn’t happen to a lot of my friends either, many of whom are reporting the best sex with new partners who take the act of pleasuring their partners seriously. On the rare occasions I have had sex, it has been explosive. Intimate, connected, mind-blowingly great. Unfortunately, on all occasions, the people involved where unsuitable for long term partnerships. The last two, separated by months and months and months, were friends. One an ex-lover from my twenties. The other an acquaintance going through a protracted separation. The former was a gift, the latter sent me around the twist. I had known he was damaged. I had been speaking to him earlier in the night we hooked about opening his heart again. I was not planning on seducing him. I blame The Gin.HipstamaticPhoto-474668570.443658

I have also, despite an absolute aversion to dating, joined a dating site. To my frustration and amusement, I have had, sadly, to self-declare as a “dating disaster”. The person I was when I last dated no longer exists. The mechanisms for dating (meet in bar/club/through friends/shag/see if it works) no longer satisfy. There's a whole new world out there of dating apps and dating sites. Dating sites have been around since the 90's, so although it is not new, the 'dial up/swipe right/booty call' culture is. It is everything a sex loving, liberated woman like me should want. Yet, I am finding it difficult. I want my sex with integrity, but was completely put off when attending some Osho type workshop. All the men just looked like they wanted to stick their dicks into anything. Quite frankly, I thought I could have more fun at Joe's Bar in Camden on a Sat night. Picking up men in bars is and always has been frighteningly easily. You almost don't need to do much more that exist. I wanted to find a new way of meeting people that wasn’t just pure, blind, chemistry. I’d tried that. I’ve had a few long relationships, married, separated. I am still very close to my ex, emotionally and intellectually, though not sexually. We work together. I still love him in a filial and emotional way that means I don't want to consider the normal heterosexist trajectory of basically destroying all aspects of one's life and partnership together simply because one is no longer fucking. So, I am trying to see what it will be like to identify as polyamorous, though strictly I am not, as polyamoury normally means that you are having multiple relationships which are both sexual and emotional. However, right now, it feels like the best description that I have to go on.

It suits me better than 'ethical non-monogamy'; no-one is asking me to be non-monogamous. I have always wondered if I could. I have always run into problems in relationships as one or the other of us wants to explore other relationships, but because we have been locked in monogamy, this has happened furtively, secretly and caused so much damage when the truth has outed. So for many years, I have tried to be another way in my relationship. I have given this sexual and emotional fidelity business as good a shot as I have been capable of. It hasn't worked out very well for me.

I'm 51 yrs old now. I feel I have to try and create the relationships I want, right from the start. I don't want to be told that I can't enjoy the deep emotional intimacy I have with my ex, that somehow that part of my relationship will become irrelevant if (when!) I start seeing someone else. I don't want to be involved in anyone else's lies either. I don't want to be part of someone else's 'dirty secret' or their 'shame'. I don't want to be that person who breaks someone else heart when they find out about me. I want to see what happens if we try loosening things up and become more honest and true with each other. How much kindness and compassion can we throw at ourselves? At those we don't know? At our lovers?

FOTZ0636When I started working on the show, “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme More: LOVE!” I had no idea how personal the content was going to be. I imagined that I could work as a 'facilitator' in the process, and keep parts of myself private and hidden away. During the course of developing the work though, stuff has happened. I've broken some of my own rules, I have car-crashed my own learning process. This is by far the most honest, open, warts and all, work I have ever done. While the poetry was showing my soul in a deeply intimate, sexy way, this show is much more honest. I don’t have a character to hide behind. I’m revealing things about myself I thought I would never disclose publicly.

As we are getting closer to the show opening, I am beginning to feel a real nervousness. Some of the content is just so private. Should it just stay that way? Why am I engaging in this 'emotional exhibitionism'? On the other hand, as the show uses live-chat, I am hoping that sharing some of my dating disaster history will free people up to share theirs. It is enormously exciting to me to have created a show where audiences can contribute if they choose. Since I have started the project, people have been disclosing the most intimate details of their dating lives to me. A lot of the stories are really funny. Or at least, they become funny once they are shared. Even if audiences don’t join the live chat, they can still participate in the singing, the dancing as they see me skating close to the thin edge of self-exploitation. How far can I go? Have I gone too far? In my personal life, I think I haven't gone far enough. I have a rule book. It’s been updated in light of recent events. It goes like this:

The Rule Book

  • No one I work with. See reasons 2 and 3. I work in the arts. Often with gorgeous young people, who become my friends.
  • No friends who have not been your lover before. When it goes wrong, the whole friendship group is affected. In our 50's – this is bad news. You can sleep with old lovers though. Just because you can. They feel familiar and safe and you know, if they are still around, it's because you've had something real going on
  • No one under 35. Just no. Not because they are unattractive. But just no. I can't bear the whole 'Cougar' thing. I detest being seen as a label.   If I meet someone under 35's who I think I can make a relationship work with, I might. But not as an 'experience'.
  • No one cheating on their partners. I'm done with dishonesty. Starting to date and starting to date people who are openly polyamorous has opened up the discussions with my ex about sex. I wish we had had these discussions years ago. It may have saved our relationship.

The Rule Book is no less coercive for being invisible. Last weekend, I went to a friend's party. I didn't know anyone there but her. I walked in and she said, 'You are dressed quite tamely for you!', and I was. A shin length, full skirted black dress. I thought I would have one drink and then go. Then I started dancing. Sometime in, there was this lovely young man dancing just around the edge of my space. Very unobtrusive. I asked him to dance with me. He said he had been waiting for me to ask. He was the most fantastic dancer. I am notoriously uncooperative at either following or leading at swing or blues or salsa. For some reason, it just worked between us. As I swirled, my dull black dress fell in waves about me and I became caught up in the magic and romance of the dance. I kept telling myself, 'It’s just dancing.' One woman came up to us and said, 'The two of you look amazing dancing together.'   He was both damned good and responsive; the leading and following fell naturally to and fro between us. I couldn't help imagining how wonderful it would be to slip my fingers underneath his shirt. However, I had noticed the ring on his finger. I reckoned, at his age, the reason his wife wasn't there was because she was at home, maybe looking after the children.   I suspected he danced pretty well with her too. This could go no further. So, shortly before midnight, I said my goodbyes and took my leave before either of us did anything we could regret. I'm not saying he would have; I'm saying, I could have. The next day I really wondered about this. Why not just give myself a bit more license? Why so cautious and conservative? I can't say that I have come up with any plausible reason why it is so. It is just what my soul needs right now.

So. I'm still out there looking. Looking for what? I don't know. I guess I'll know when I find it. Or maybe I won't. In the meantime, “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme More: LOVE!”, an intimate, audience-collaborative show exploring themes of lust, love and dating with your clothes on opens May 6th in Brighton and on Sat 7th May we are having a party right after the show. Further showings on 27th, 28th and the 29th May. You can purchase tickets here. Or contact us on FB, gggmorelove, and join the conversation. I am going to need all the help I can refining and updating my rules.

© Debra Watson 2016

Debra Watson is a poet, performer, facilitator and director.

Photos Credit: Susanne Ballhausen

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