I’m separated, in my late 50s, and fearful of dating

After a separation, there is a drop in self-esteem and for some there is a sexual shutdown... It is best not to rush into relationships.

¦ I am a separated woman in my late 50s. All my children have jobs and partners, and I now have more free time.

I would like to meet someone special, but the thought of a sexual relationship puts me off.

Maybe I should get used to my own company. What do you think?

>> Apart from being separated, you have moved into the ‘empty nest’ syndrome, which means your children are no longer part of your everyday life. They have formed relationships of their own. This is normal as adult children need to detach from their parents.

Of course, there is a loss for you and, as you don’t have a partner, you are lonely. This is a time of change in your life.

Your relationship with your children will continue but in a different way. It can be exciting getting to know their partners. For future family relationships, it will be important to connect with your children’s partners.

But, let’s get back to you. After a separation, there is a drop in self-esteem and for some there is a sexual shutdown. You could be ambivalent about the separation and life can seem very confusing. It is not easy and it takes time to feel normal.

This it is time to live life again. It is best not to rush into relationships. You may be fearful that you can’t trust yourself to judge whether a partner is good for you or not. Take time to get to know yourself. Being single does not mean that you are no longer a sexual person. Work on your friendships and your interests. Try and develop some new ones. If you live life, you will be an interesting person.

You talk of meeting someone and that would lead to an intimate relationship. Being single, and dating again, is not easy. It is not the same as it was in your 20s. Then, the decision to have sex with a new partner was probably very scary. But in your late 50s, you have the history of your marriage and you have adult children, so it will be different from when you were young and single.

If you do meet a man you like, take your time to get to know each other. Go on dates, talk, share interests. Be comfortable together before even thinking about sex. Talk about it, make sure you are both ready. You will need to name your fears and say that the thought scares you.

At the moment, you are getting used to your own company. Without physical intimacy, you could look after yourself by having massages and being touched in a non-sexual way.

To build your confidence, get in touch with your body and become comfortable with it. Think of yourself as a sexual person. Be curious and like yourself. Touch yourself and know your body. Then, if you choose to be sexual with someone, it won’t be so scary.

You may have to take a risk on love. Keep your options open and only do what is right for you.

¦ Marie Daly is a psychosexual therapist with Relationships Ireland; visit www.relationshipsirleland.com.

Please send your questions to: feelgood@examiner.ie


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