I, Mrs. Doubleplay, will be turning the big 4-0 in two weeks. It has naturally been the subject of many conversations with my vanilla friends. I am reluctant to share the news with my lifestyle friends, however. While I know many fabulous ladies in the swinging lifestyle who are over 40 — over 50 even — I acknowledge some losses in turning 40. Or at least I perceive them as losses right now.
First, meeting couples. We live in a small town in the middle of nowhere. We already swim in a very small lifestyle pond. I worry that in turning 40, we close ourselves off to the 20-something swingers in our area. 39 reads a lot different than 40 on a Lifestyle online profile. It just does. We worry that our possible swinger options are going to decline sharply if I post 40 as my age. While I suppose our increase in age opens up the 50-plus category, I feel like that has always been open to us. So the age increase appears to close doors rather than open them.
Second, I was talking with a dear friend. A 50-something guy, in fact. He congratulated me on turning 40 and said that all of the women he knew have found 40 to be the power decade for women. He has seen many women figure out who they are and take on the world at that age. That sounds fabulous. He added though, “Women decide that a lot of what they cared about before isn't worth caring about, and they find it liberating.”
My own sense of strength and power began to bloom at about the same time we re-entered the lifestyle. I can’t say for sure which caused the other: perhaps feeling stronger about myself gave me the confidence to enter the lifestyle, or perhaps lifestyle experiences helped to make me confident. Probably both.
But I also think the lifestyle brings an interesting paradox about aging. A lot of women who talk about getting older say that they find it refreshing to not get ogled anymore, to not have to think about what they look like so much, to not have beauty define them.
But the lifestyle requires being out there, and seeking to connect with other couples heightens a focus on exterior appearances for sure. Compared to our friends, Mr. D. and I have increased our interest in our looks. We are in shape, well-groomed; we keep our teeth white, our hairs plucked. I still like to wear clothes that show off my body. And while I have seen beautiful instances in which women come to see the sexiness of their bodies in the lifestyle in ways they never knew before, I wonder how aging will influence my enjoyment of the lifestyle if aging lessens beauty, reduces it, or just changes it. Will I be more critical of my body instead of more accepting given our extracurricular pursuits?