60 May Be The New 40, But Not On The Dating Scene

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Dating in your 60s brings up a whole new set of concerns, says Kate McGuinness.

I’m in my 60s and have found mortality weighs more heavily in this decade. When I read the obituary of someone who died in his or her 70s, I find myself silently asking, “Isn’t that unusually young to die?” Then I immediately do the math to figure out how many more years I’ll have left if I meet the Grim Reaper at such a tender age.

Thoughts like that make whatever years remain more precious and prompted me to file for divorce eight months ago. If I only have another 10 or 15 years left, I refuse to spend them in a situation that makes me unhappy.

The partner we chose in our 20s or 30s may not be the one we find satisfying in our 60s. The divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled over the last 20 years with roughly two-thirds of older adult divorces being initiated by women.

With women becoming more financially independent, many of these divorcées may feel less compelled to enter into another marriage. But that doesn’t mean they’re uninterested in male companionship or dating.

I’d like to find a man whose company I enjoy. Perhaps, as Katharine Hepburn suggests, one who “lives next door and just visits now and then.” I especially hope that man will visit my bedroom.

I’ve been in a sexless marriage for years. The prospect of a vigorous romp is appealing, but it’s become fraught with concern. As I’ve grown older, good health becomes more precious and a blessing never to be taken for granted. Having made it to this age without contracting a sexually transmitted disease, I’ve become more concerned than ever. When a man makes no physical moves, not even a peck on the cheek, after a few dates I begin to worry if he’s going slowly because he’s waiting to break the news he has herpes.

Assuming I find a partner who I’m convinced is free of STDs, I will then be confronted with the unnerving prospect of baring my less-than-youthful body. Sixty-plus years of gravity have taken their toll.  

I wish I had the courage of Jane Juska, a divorced English teacher who posted this advertisement in The New York Review of Books, “Before I turn 67—next March—I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.” The response to her ad was so overwhelming that she took a sabbatical from her teaching to deal with the replies. She described her adventures in the funny and poignant memoir A Round-Heeled Woman.

My dating prospects are complicated by living in a small, rural Midwestern town, a prohibitively far distance for most readers of The New York Review of Books! I suppose I could try an ad in the Countryside and Small Stock Journal and hope a farmer bored by winter inactivity would answer, but think I’ll exhaust more conventional avenues first.

Kate McGuinness is a lawyer who spent 17 years at Biglaw before becoming the general counsel of a Fortune 500 corporation. After leaving that position, she studied creative writing and is the author of a legal suspense novel Terminal Ambition, which is available on Amazon.com. She is an advocate for women and tweets as @K8McGuinness.

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