If you were expecting some kind of graphic image, you’re on the wrong blog site. Shoo. Go on.
Now that we have that cleared up, I’m talking about the changing version of “sexy” as we age—the sexy seesaw.
Why a seesaw? Because some old adages are true—with age, comes wisdom. Most of us get wiser, like it or not. As we grow, we may find ourselves attracted to qualities quite different from those we were in younger days.
Take me, for instance. (It’s my blog, so I seem to be a good place to start. Plus, my friends would kill me if I shared their stories.)
In my twenties, I was attracted to excitement. And success. And good looks. Witty banter. No engineers, accountants or actuaries need apply, was my motto. I did not appreciate a quiet sense of humor. Ditto for a “slow and steady” wins the race kind of guy. I loved fast cars, wining and dining, the fast track at work. I tended to date men in sales, broadcasting, advertising. We laughed a lot, had wonderful adventures and flew by the seat of our pants. I remember kisses on the rooftop during the first winter snowstorm, with the city skyline as a backdrop. A champagne picnic on the beach at midnight. Several dozen roses being delivered to my office and home. Biking the islands. It was so much fun.
For a while.
And then—I started to grow up a bit more. Fast cars sometimes come with aggressive personalities, I learned. Wining and dining are great but what is he like when your car breaks down or a Saturday full of household work comes around? Men on the fast track are smart and passionate—two qualities I love—but not at the expense of caring and consideration. When work requires every holiday to be spent covering some type of sporting event, you start to picture yourself alone with small children for many years to come.
My thirties were a blur. I continued to build my career but also to have babies. My husband at that time was a financial trader (I compromised—exciting career but quiet, steady guy). He traveled frequently. I ended up home alone many weekends anyway. He’d call in from Pebble Beach or some other luxurious locale, telling me about the phenomenal dinner and round of golf he had that day. I usually had screaming kids in the background and mac and cheese on plates in front of us. I missed my own business travel, but wouldn’t have left my kids for the world. I’m so glad I had those years.
I learned to find solid earning power, which meant security for my family, even sexier. (And yes, gentlemen, I had been previously capable of that same earning power. Not looking for a meal ticket—just an equal partner.) A display of tenderness for my children was high on the sexy-o-meter. Asking me about my day, taking an interest—well, that would about send me to the moon, passion-wise. Because my days weren’t what they used to be. They were thrilling in a much different way.
And then came my forties. Hmmm. I cannot lie. It’s not just aging, but also divorce, that has changed me. I still love wining and dining. Witty banter continues to delight me. I still am attracted to men with careers that are a bit unusual or risky. I still love a man who loves a good scotch. And a man who can make me laugh? Priceless.
But . . .
I have come to appreciate thoughtfulness and caring in an entirely new way. Someone who takes out the garbage without being asked lights my fire. Someone who proactively takes an interest in my sons and models for them how to respect a strong woman but not take advantage of her strength–that’s sexy. A man who plans ahead and surprises me with a night I did not have to think about, sketch out or handle any details for—wow—for that man, George Clooney can take a hike. A true partner. One who sees where I want to go in life and gently calls me out when I start to stray. One who will appreciate me doing the same for him.
I’ve seen so many men my age hung up on trying to hold onto a youth that has passed. In my foray into online dating for an article I was writing (see here), I cannot tell you how many men posted photos of themselves shirtless to prove they look younger than the years the calendar will hold them to. How many of them bragged about constant global travel, their latest daredevil skiing move, etc. And I’m soooo over that. The seesaw is more balanced now that men like that are not sitting on the other side.
I have a feeling these midlife crisis poster boys are very similar to the men I dated in my twenties. What worked in your twenties shouldn’t work in your forties. I love a man who keeps himself up, but not one who is racing the clock. There is a subtle sexiness in aging gracefully, which brings a panoply of traits us women appreciate. The seesaw sees and saws for a reason—because staying in one place is not what life is all about . . . and sexy plays upon current assets, not those from days long gone.