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Getting Back Out There After a Long...Long Time

Erin: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hotter Than Ever, where we uncover the unconscious rules we've been following. We break those rules and we find a new path to being freer, happier, sexier, and more our authentic selves. I'm your host, Erin Keating.


Today, I want to talk about dating and relationships after marriage. So my story is that I was married for 16 years and I was with the same person for 18 years and I was faithful and I really didn't think about men outside of my marriage. I really actually had a funny thing where I would not really notice when someone was hitting on me or attracted to me or interested in me. I somehow was like [00:01:00] really blocked off to that kind of attention. And when my marriage ended, it was a bit of a wake up call for me to realize that a whole part of my life had been completely shut down.


And the first thing that I wanted was to just get out there. And have sex. I mean, that's just the truth. Um, because the last ten years of my marriage, you know, as things sort of emotionally, um, fractured, um, and, and we felt like less of a partnership, um, we were raising children together, but we felt like less of a partnership from a couple love perspective.


Um, we really lost that part of our lives. And as a consequence, I lost that part of my life, myself. I lost that part of my life. So I was chomping at the bit to figure out how to get that part of myself back, that, that vitality, that spark, that attraction, that flirtation. [00:02:00] I went about it in, I don't know how you would explain how I went about it, but I went about it in such a way that with, let's say with a vengeance, and I'm not here to confess all of my secrets.


I'm here to share my experience in the hope that it will connect with other people who might be In a similar situation or curious about what it would be like to be in the situation that I was in. A long marriage ends, there hasn't been a lot of sex, I'm disassociated from myself in a lot of ways, and I'm ready to reclaim part of myself, um, that I'm not willing to at 50, you know, Leave to history.


I'm not willing to say, well, that part of me is done. I'm no longer, uh, a sexual person. I'm no longer interested in falling in love or having [00:03:00] affairs or any of that stuff. I know a lot of women feel that way. And a lot of the women that I have seen post divorce, especially women with children, keep themselves kind of off the market.


They don't feel available to relationships, whether with men or with women, they don't feel available to romantic entanglements. And that is not my story. My story was I wanted to get super fucking entangled. Uh, I wanted to make a mess. I had been keeping everything so neat and clean and on lockdown for so many years and I wanted to feel alive and connected to myself and yeah, I wanted to see what it felt like to be this new person post relationship.

I think what's on the line here is. That there are some fears that you need to overcome in order to do that right [00:04:00] to create a new sense of yourself and a new relationship with sex and love and your body and how you want to live your life as an independent person. And for me, you know, the transformation that I underwent was from being shut down and sexless and devastated to being sexy and sparkly and hotter than ever.


I went from being disconnected to my body. And having a lot of questions about my own attractiveness, and that evolved into something where I felt more attractive, more vital, more turned on by myself and the world and, in my case, men than I had felt probably ever in my life. And I think the starting place, the sort of, where do I begin, the like, getting back out there thought is, what do I want?


You know? What do I want? It is not what I wanted in my 20s. The last time I went out [00:05:00] seeking a relationship, looking for... Love and connection. I was looking for a life partner. I was looking to get married and have children. I was looking for someone who's financial outlook and career outlook paralleled mine.


I was looking for someone who would get along with my family I was looking for all of these huge things that at 50 years old having children, having my own career, having my own resources, I'm, I wasn't needing the same stuff out of a relationship, a connection with someone that I needed the last time I was in the free market of dating.


And that was extremely liberating. So, I spent the year after my separation really, I mean, I joke, I call it my rumspringa, like when the Amish kids go out and go wild before they decide they want to come back to be upstanding members [00:06:00] of their community. Um, I really do feel like I, I was on a bit of a, a spree, uh, of sorts and boy, was it fun.


It continues to be fun. And where did my journey start? It started online. I mean, that's where. That's where dating starts today, unless you are one of those incredible people who lock eyes with someone at a Starbucks, you know, and you're both getting the same kind of drink and all of a sudden you're making out.


You know, all of a sudden there's a romantic scene unfolding. I don't know, you fill in the blanks on that one, but that's not how it's worked for me ever in my life. I met my husband online back in the dark ages of the internet. So I mean, I started by sort of looking in the app store and seeing what kind of apps were in there for dating and how things might have changed in the 18 years since I had needed such assistance.


And for the first three [00:07:00] months really of my being willing to engage with any kind of conversations around this stuff. I was exclusively talking to people online. I really did not jump into the wild shenanigans that I eventually got into. I really had to go in through the shallow end because I had lost touch with myself sexually and I needed to figure out even how to reconnect and I certainly didn't know what I was doing in terms of dating and, uh, and romance and any of that stuff, you know, but, but for me, like the first thing really was to say, what, what am I looking for?


What do I want? I knew what I did not want. I did not want monogamy. I did not want commitment. I did not want emotional complexity. I honestly wanted to feel sexy, to feel fun, to feel playful and free, and also to reaffirm to myself that I was [00:08:00] desirable, that at 50 years old, I was attractive, that I could have some sort of currency out there in the world, and that there were Met in my case men who would be attracted to me.


I really wasn't sure I really didn't know I was only at the beginning of feeling attracted to myself again after this sort of long period of dissociation and so I started really slow and There's an app that's called pure which is literally just sexting so you can go download it from the App Store. You can look on it and see all of these very short, horny posts from all these guys.


I put a, what turned out to be a pretty compelling ad on there that was very short that said, I've been in captivity a long time. Can somebody help me, you know, come back to life? That's what I'm looking for. And apparently that is a value [00:09:00] proposition for men. Um, of the ilk who would already be on this app, um, that that was very appealing to them.

I also discovered pretty quickly that my age was not a barrier to men being interested in me.


And in fact, guys who I probably would not have dated when I was their age, if we were the same age, were interested in me because I didn't want to marry them. I didn't want to have their children. I didn't want to get all entangled and messed up in their stuff. I just want to have fun. And, you know, for guys in their thirties and forties, the women that they meet, in my experience, a lot of them were meeting women who wanted all those conventional things. And, and I knew, I know who I was in my early thirties when I was seriously on the hunt for a mate. I brought a lot of sort of hope and expectation to my dating life that [00:10:00] really put a high stakes toll on all of my interactions, right?


Now, I, I have a life. I have all the things I need. I know who I am. I'm not looking to build myself with someone. And that's very attractive. And you can say, oh yeah, it's very attractive when a woman just wants sex and she doesn't want anything else. Of course! Of course, but I was also looking for connection.


I was looking for a human experience. I was looking for people that I could have good conversations with and enjoy being with, um, in addition to being attracted to, but I found that age was not, it was not the barrier that I expected it to be. And I hope that's heartening to some people who are listening, who are thinking I'm, I'm too old to get out there.

You could date a fuckin hot 25 year old guy if you wanted to. I personally found those guys to be too immature. I didn't want to date anyone who could be my child. That was not appealing to me on any level. [00:11:00] And I found guys in their 30s to be too young for me also just for the sake of, like, they've not been beaten up by life very much.


They are very confident that everything is going to go their way forever and ever. And so for me, those guys were missing a little bit of depth and grit. Get into your 40s, your early 40s and up. Like I hit the sweet spot on that. And definitely enjoyed dating guys my age because we had so much in common. Not just cultural reference points, which is helpful, but also, you know, having been around the block and maybe having been married and maybe having had kids and, and sort of seen some stuff go south and, and also. You know, still wanting sex and connection and, and for them themselves to feel desirable and desired.


So, I really enjoyed discovering all of these things as part [00:12:00] of this journey, but where I started was online, and I met a guy online, whose name I never learned, uh, whose face I never saw. He was extremely secretive, but he was determined to bring me back to life sexually.


And so he sort of would give me assignments and tell me to do dirty things and buy toys and, and do all these things and walk me through on the phone how to reconnect with my orgasm, and it was very dirty. It was very hot, and it was very fun, and I really became obsessed with him, or, or, or whatever he was, right? Like, is he even a him without a body, without a identity? I, I became obsessed with the dynamic and the experience, and it made me feel really alive and really sexy and it was thrilling and I wanted more of it and, uh, he was not that available. [00:13:00]


And so once I started to realize that he was not going to be able to give me the three dimensional experience that I was beginning to crave, I felt like, okay, like I have learned what I'm going to learn from this experience and it went on for several months and really, really reconnected me to myself.


And then I finally was like, yeah, this isn't working for me. You're not available enough. And that also began this sort of practice of speaking my truth in these dynamics and setting boundaries and saying what I needed in ways that I could never really do in my marriage because it was so high stakes.


If something didn't work out or I didn't get my needs met, I would just sort of live in frustration in these relationships, which are such loose ties. I really had the opportunity to practice boundary setting and, um, saying what I needed to say and communication in a relationship because I didn't really care if [00:14:00] what I had to say didn't go over well or there were repercussions that were not optimal.


So, you know, I had the chance to say to this guy, like, I need more from you. And he said, I can't give that to you because who knows what his life was. Right. I mean, really like you're all thinking he was probably married. Don't know. Uh, hope not. Hope if he was, he had permission to do what he was doing, um, where there was some like agreement, but also possible that he was not married and he just wasn't as available to this experience as I wanted him to be.


And as a result, I was able to say what I needed, get, you know, a disappointing answer. And then decide what I was going to do with that information and move on. And so, you know, throughout this past year, I have used these relationships as a way to practice who and how I want to be in, in a romantic and sexual dynamic with someone.[00:15:00]


And of course, the closer you get to someone, the higher stakes. Become, but I have not been a person who's been great at expressing my genuine and authentic needs. And as part of being like a full adult and a fully self expressed human woman with boundaries, like this stuff is hugely important. And I imagine that some of you will relate to that.


So, you know, my experience in this Rum Springer. There was a sort of, there were phases of it, so I sort of dipped my toe in with the online. I met a guy on Tinder who was kind of my classic type, who was real smart, super fucking obnoxious, real dirty and, and fun. Funny, really funny. And so, I decided, well, you know, I think this is the guy who's gonna, who's, I'm going to give my, my new virginity to.


And we slept together a couple of times. [00:16:00] It was very sexy. He was a very decent human. He was in recovery. I relate to that, that sort of being able to talk in a 12 step kind of way, you know, where everybody's like fucked up, but working on themselves. Um, and it didn't ultimately end up lasting past a few dates because he was not communicative in the way that I wanted him to be.


And so I was like, I'm not going to fight city hall here. Like I'm not going to try to force this guy to be someone he's not. I'm going to say what I need and then, you know, move on if it doesn't work out. And so it didn't. And so I moved on and, you know, for a while I was dating one person at a time and sort of.


Yeah. Using the apps, and this is a whole other episode, which is just like, what are the apps like, you know, Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Pure, Match, OkCupid, Jdate, Field, like, they all have their own different textures and jokes. [00:17:00] I think there's a, there's a really great, uh, standup hour about dating apps in this conversation.


But I will say that, um. One of the guys I dated referred to Tinder as the DMV of dating apps. It's like everybody there in a line. All of humanity crushed together, looking for whatever they're looking for. And that was where I met the first guy. So. I started to date several guys after that because I had such limited time away from my kids and when I had a babysitter, a night when I could have a babysitter, I wanted to be able to go out with someone and if the one person or two people that I was talking to was not available those nights then I was shit out of luck, right?


So I wanted to control my own time and have more agency. So I started to date multiple guys and the experience of driving in a car [00:18:00] somewhere and not having anyone know where I was going or what I was doing was so foreign to my life experience for the past 18 years for the past 18 years.


I was married and everywhere I was was known like I was always accountable for exactly where I was going to be at whatever time. So this even this experience of being liberated from that of feeling like a free person in the world just doing my own thing and making my own decisions and having my own. You know adventures and seeking out shenanigans with men, like, that was a big part of it where it was like, wow, I really felt my own agency, my own freedom.


One of the things that I wanted to understand when I started dating again was whether my body was going to be attractive to men. Post children, post aging, and my [00:19:00] experience, it was so reaffirming that I was desirable at any size, that my, you know, my stomach sticks out, like, I'm not toned, I'm not perfect, I'm pretty, I'm tall, I have a great presence.


But at the end of the day, it was enthusiasm. It was enthusiasm that made me attractive to people. And also having really, you know, cute and kind of flirty profile pictures and You know, when you put a dating ad, when you put your profile up, it is a marketing exercise and I'm very mindful of that. So, you know, I'm competitive, I wanted to win, and so I certainly marketed myself in a certain way.


But I didn't pretend that I was skinny, and I didn't pretend that I was young. And neither of those things were at all an obstacle for the kind of... men that I met who were attracted to me and interested in me. And I also think like, not for nothing, but I'm [00:20:00] really interested in sex. And, um, that's something that I really enjoy and that I want to go deep with.


And there are a lot of men out there who really appreciate that. And I imagine that if you don't date men, there are also women out there and trans people out there who appreciate that as well, if that's your thing. And there are also people out there who don't want that. And if you don't want that. I just, I'm just here to say like, whatever it is that you're looking for is available to you.


If you are really clear about what it is that you're looking for. I just saw a quote from Oprah where she said, the thing that the successful people she has known have in common is that they know what they want. And I think that's really true. If you know what you want, then you can really go after it.


If you don't know what you want, you're not going to have the success that you're craving because what you don't have a definition of what success looks like. For me, [00:21:00] success was lots of guys interested in me and lots of options for dates and lots of flirting and new adventures and experiences and genuinely like hot fucking with precautions taken and you know everybody being responsible and communicative but like i wanted what i didn't have for so long i wanted to reconnect with that side of myself and to feel sexy and playful and free and i really because i knew what i wanted i was really able to get that so One thing that I thought was really interesting was I always have thought about dating and relationships from a woman's perspective, but being out there and being older and having been married to someone for a long time, I was very curious about what men's experience was.


And... I met a lot of men who are really looking to reinvent themselves after long relationships. I [00:22:00] met men who felt like I'm playing for now, but I'm open to a long term relationship if things are magical. I'm not ready for that yet. Um, I'm playing the field or they were looking to explore their sexuality as in a deeper way that they hadn't been able to do in previous relationships.


Maybe they're getting into kinks for the first time and really being willing to say what turned them on. Maybe they were trying out new theories of monogamy and commitment. There's a lot of stuff going on out there in the world about ethical non monogamy and polyamorousness and throuples and all kinds of things.


And we can get into that as well and I can share what I have experienced. But that is fascinating to me. And this is certainly the first time that I ever went out into the world and said, I'm open to seeing multiple people at the same time. I'm not going to be dishonest with anyone. I'm going to say in this, in this exercise of boundary setting, very openly, I'm seeing a handful of guys.[00:23:00] Tell me how you feel about that. I am willing to tell you absolutely nothing about these guys. If you want to pretend like you're the only one, or you want to just think about our experience together, or, um, I'm willing to tell you, I'm willing to dish the dirt and tell you all the dirty details. Cause if that turns you on, I'm open to that too.


I was, I'm in just such a remarkably open minded place and I wanted to make sure that my partners felt like I was just being as straight as possible with them. And the men had different reactions to this, right? So there was one guy that I was seeing who was a very dominant kind of character and he understood that I needed to see other people. That was not his ideal, but he was also not that available. And he wanted to know who I was going to see, who I was seeing. And he wanted to have first dibs anytime I had free time. And there was just an endless negotiation with him [00:24:00] around this because after having been married for so long, I did not want to let someone else imposed restrictions on me.


And so I had to say to him, like, I so appreciate that, you know, this is how it's going to work best for you. This is actually not going to work for me. And so we may not actually be able to see each other. And ultimately we were not able to see each other. Because he was really hung up on how he needed things to be and no judgment, right?


Like, that's what he needed. There was another guy who I am friends with to this day, though we are no longer lovers, who would ask me for lots of details about the other guys that I was seeing and I would send them to him and then he wouldn't write anything back in the text. Like he wouldn't text me back immediately. I could see that he had read it.


And I had to say to him, like, Hey, dude, like, I just went to an effort to do this, this is turns me on to, to share this information with you, [00:25:00] but I want a reaction. You don't get just to just absorb it and not give me anything back like that's not fair that doesn't feel good that actually makes me feel used and he was like oh okay like thanks for telling me I'll do it differently next time so all of these little lessons in open communication have just been revolutionary for me.


And I think that I'm practicing boundary setting and communication in my romantic life in such a way that it is empowering me in my life overall. And that's what I'm looking for. I'm looking to feel as much agency and empowerment as I possibly can in this phase of my life. So, you know, what happened was that just to catch you up to the current moment, I was dating a lot of different guys.


I was feeling very sexy and very lit up. And I, I still feel that way. It was a [00:26:00] lot of work. It was like a part time job. You know, to be initiating new conversations, to be maintaining old conversations, to be cultivating ongoing dynamics, seeing people, setting up dates, and there are different, you know, the dates look different with different people.


So one guy would always like make me dinner and there would be like a theme for the night and we would have these deep conversations and have affirmations and and light candles and I mean it was wild and so fun and made me feel so bohemian You know, and then there's other guys who just want to like make out in the backseat of their car, right?

Like that's fucking hot too. So I was having all these different kinds of dynamics and then I met someone. I went on a date thinking it wasn't going to be anything because his profile was crazy but he was really cute and we talked on the phone and I was like well we'll go have a drink whatever if this is a throwaway because you have to be willing to do that too to take a [00:27:00] flyer just in case.


There's a connection there and we had chemistry and long story short, like we saw each other like every day that first week, and after a couple of weeks, I had to say to him, like, I don't really want to see other people. I'm kind of into you. And he was like, yeah, I'm into you. And so I've just been seeing him for like five months.


And and that's been its own thing because it's been deeper and more, it's evolved into something that's meaningful and lovely and still as hot as it was. You know, the minute we met. So I think cultivating a kind of openness and willingness to have new experiences, to let things fall where they will, to accept new people into your life and then let them go.


I can't imagine there are a ton of people out there who would proceed the [00:28:00] way that I have, I mean, if you are, and if you do, please call me, we have a lot to talk about, but I, I hope that there's some things that you can take away from this, if you are thinking about getting back out there, or you have friends who are getting back out there, you know, this is my life experience.


For the first year post marriage post committed long term partnership and I have friends who asked me right out of the gate. Oh, is this person gonna meet your children? Is this part, you know, does this guy feel like he's smart enough for you to be with in the long term? Oh, what do you think that relationship will turn into? Whatever this conventional something that people expect, you know, is it going to, is, does it have the space to evolve? And, and all I know is I don't know. All I know is that I don't [00:29:00] need at 51, I don't need for my romantic life one year out of an 18 year relationship to look conventional.


There are no rules. There are no societal. standards that I need to live by. I'm not hurting anyone. I'm being safe. I'm having a great time. And I think if you treat it like a game and an experiment, and you're out there to have fun, you will evolve. And you will come to know what it is that you want long term. It is about cultivating your own self, your own decision making, your, your own barometer of like, does this feel good?


Does this not feel good? Do I like this? Do I not like this? Which I think is not as available to us when we are in an unhappy, not Functional marriage, right? You are doing [00:30:00] a lot of things for survival. You're doing a lot of things to maintain the status quo. And the most liberating part of all of this for me is that there's no status quo to maintain.


I'm just in invention mode. And you can do this too. If you are feeling shut down, or you are feeling like a sense of longing for a different kind of life or a different kind of experience, you can do your own version. Of this game. This is this experiment that I have, I have done in the past year because you will learn about yourself and you will grow and you will evolve.


And this is for you. This is for you. Your life is for you. And that's what I want for you. I want you to feel hotter than ever. I want you to feel, you know, a sense of your own beauty and attractiveness and agency and turn on and power. In the world, and it's all available to you, but it's a mindset thing.


Not everyone is as much of a slut as I am. [00:31:00] So I will leave you, dear listeners, with that.


Thanks for listening to Hotter Than Ever. If you enjoyed this episode, if it spoke to you in some way, please follow the show and rate and review us on Apple Podcasts.


The show is produced by Erica Girard and PodKit Productions, our associate producer is Lena Riebstein. Music is by Chris Keating with vocals by Issa Fernandez.


Come back next week. There's a lot more to talk about.


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