I’ve spent most of my life with one guy: rocker Ric Ocasek of the Cars. Ric and I were married in 1989 and had two sons who are now in their 20s. In 2017, after nearly 30 years of marriage, we separated and were planning to get a divorce when Ric died suddenly in September 2019.
I was just 19 when Ric and I became a couple; I’m now 56, having celebrated my birthday just last week. And now being out there dating again, what I’m realizing is that I’m not very good at it. I keep being this weird teenager when it comes to dating because the last time I dated, I was a teenager. I haven’t adjusted to being a mature woman yet, so I’m a little silly probably.
What am I looking for in a partner? Quite honestly, I don’t know. I don’t have a clue. I don’t know what I want because my husband was my soulmate for such a long time, and what he provided me at that time is no longer what I need. I need something else now because I’m way more fabulous now than I was at 19. I need a guy that can withstand my awesomeness.
But I know what I don’t want. I think I’m much, much more qualified to speak about what I don’t want, because I know what eventually some of my relationships became. What I don’t want is a man who doesn’t hear me — who treats me as a beautiful and worthy object rather than for who I am. I’m not really sure how to tell the difference between a man that likes me for who I am, and a man that likes me for what it does for him to be with me.
Some women are attracted to really good-looking guys or powerful guys or rich guys, I’ve always been attracted to talent. Talent to me is really sexy. One thing that I’ve recognized now, after going out on dates with some men who have normal jobs and are wonderful guys, is that I find talent sexy — and talented men are generally way more complicated than non-talented ones. I know better than to say “never,” but certainly a rock musician is about the last thing on my dating calendar.
I don’t think I would rule out getting married again because in spite of it all, I’m a totally hopeless romantic and I believe in love. And I believe in finding that one person out there that is right for me and that I’m right for and spending the rest of my life with them. That’s what I thought I was doing with my husband. The end of our marriage kind of came as a shock to me, quite honestly. I just couldn’t incorporate it into my understanding of that sense of “this is going to be my life.” I never conceived the world without me being married to my husband. So that in itself was a complete reworking of who I am as a person and what my life is about. But despite that, I still feel like I’m a one-man kind of a woman.
My sons are so cute about it. I’ve told them about a couple of my dates and they’re like, “You just go on and have fun, Mom. Enjoy life, you deserve it.” They’re kind of like my little cheering team; they’re absolutely a hundred percent supportive and it’s so sweet. I really feel like they have my back. Obviously, I’m not going to introduce anybody to them until I get serious.
What I have found is that sex gets better with age, which is something that I was kind of terrified about for a while because I kept hearing all these horror stories about how you go through menopause and then you lose your sex drive and you don’t want to have sex anymore. I had been wandering the desert for a little while and I was really afraid that somehow that part of my life was going to disappear or go away or was no longer something that I got to do.
And it turns out that it only gets better because I know my body so much better. Whatever confidence and wisdom that you acquire with age, it’s kind of paying off in your 50s. Now I take my pleasure where I know that I had it or where I can. I’m not there to please the guy; I’m there to be pleased.
The last time I dated, I was 19, and now I’m 56, so clearly there’s a big chunk of time here that has gotten lost. But the last time around I wanted to seduce the guy; I wanted to be seen as hot. It was all very self-conscious, and that self-consciousness is just not there anymore. And sex is a lot more fun when you’re not self-conscious and when you’re just enthusiastic, I love that. In fact, I think that’s the recipe for great sex. You have to deal with a fair amount of body acceptance obviously, because, you know, after having two kids and being in your 50s, your body quite doesn’t bounce like it used to. But it’s got other beauties to it, such as control.