Being In Charge Of Your Sexuality: Yes and No at 43

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When you’re a 43 year old single woman, the first thing people talk about is how you’re probably having sex with everything that isn’t tied down. People assume there is some string of lovers aged legal to retired, and ranging from truly single to married who are keeping the cell phone burning up with booty calls. Maybe that’s true for some people. Probably mostly true for women on reality shows and tabloids, but certainly not for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally hip with being in charge of my own sexuality and enjoying a healthy sex life, but part of being in charge means I also get to decline if I wish. Right now I find myself in the midst of a mindset where being alone just seems more desirable than tending to the sexual needs of a partner.

Folks call me crazy for that because these periods of chosen sexual solitude often extend more than a few days or even a few weeks. They can last months, but keep in mind, it’s by choice. This is what I want, so no pity necessary.

Once when I had just turned 40, I had a partner tell me I was in my sexual prime; that I couldn’t possibly be faithful because my hormones, paired with my angst of aging, wouldn’t allow monogamy. His words. Not mine.

I get it, though. That’s the stereotype about women of a certain age. It’s no different from women assuming men this age have a midlife crisis. Thing is, it just doesn’t happen to everyone.

Even though I’m not at all dealing with that hormonal onslaught in my life, I do feel like I’m certainly at the prime of my life emotionally.

I’ve finally reached a point where I’m in complete control of my emotions and what I want from life. That control allows me to have more sexual freedom than ever before. I realize I do not need to be in the context of a relationship to have really great sex. I’ve also finally figured out that being up front with someone doesn’t make me a “whore” or a “slut”. I can just simply say “I want to be friends with benefits,” or “I don’t want any more than sex,” and more importantly, I’m not afraid to say “I’m not at all interested”.

To me, having the power to choose is the most freeing part of being my age. I’m no longer stuck in the confines of what I think relationships should be, but rather, I realize what they really are. I know that as long as everyone is up front about their involvement in a relationship, sexual or otherwise, no one gets hurt, no judgement is necessary, and everyone can go home happy.

All that being said, I’m an introvert. Isolation is like vacation to me. Too much social interaction throws me into a state of anxiety I’m only just learning to deal with. Anxiety is a new thing I’ve started being honest with myself and others about, and it, too, is often judged. I just no longer care if I’m judged, but I digress.

I’m learning to nurture myself, protect myself a little, and make sure I’m able to keep out of the muck of depression too much anxiety can throw me into. So, sometimes I just stay home alone.

I love sex. It’s a very important part of life, but I’ve learned that for all the judgement people will throw you either for having or not having sex (people always have a damn opinion), few people really know how to handle their own sex lives. Many people have sex out of obligation. Some are doing it to feel loved, but few are really in enough control of their sex lives to realize whether they partake or decline is no one else’s business—providing no one is getting hurt, that is.

So here I sit in what many would call a “dry spell,” but what I call my “realignment period”. I’m happy. I’m comforted. I’m recharging my battery so I can be the best me possible.

If there’s anything being in my 40s has taught me, it’s that I own me. No one’s opinion about me or my sex life should be as important as my own. No one else owns my body or my sexuality. I thank feminism for helping me come to that realization.

It has been said (by Woody Allen-pardon, but he did have a point) that masturbation is “with someone you love.” It should be. You should be the sexual partner you love the most, and when you need a moment to collect your sanity, you can enjoy some time with the one person you can never break up with: yourself.

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