Making Room for Autonomy after 50

Making Room for Autonomy after 50

Perusing the Value Village bookshelves, one title, 203 Ways to Drive a Man Wild in Bed by Olivia St. Claire, jumped out at us. Debra Anderson, a long-time neighbour from when I lived on Alberta Avenue, laughed. “We don’t need 203. We just need one way. Breathe.” Then added, "Not that men are a lower life form.”

The male’s biological ability to procreate indefinitely is a crucial difference. Women after 50, Anderson agreed, are done. We have raised children if we had them and are now turning inward, pursuing passions beyond the boudoir.


Anderson enjoys oil painting and treasures her solitude. Beloved Canadian author Margaret Laurence wrote in Dance on the Earth; she couldn’t be a wife, mother and author, so she chose the last two. Like Anderson and Laurence, I prioritize. Beginning with writing, supporting women writers, and enjoying outdoor activities with my son.  The chief complaint I hear from male friends is, “You’re so busy.” My inside thought is, Yes, with my passions, adhering to my natural rhythms.

There are as many ways to cater to that inner calling as there are women. I did not come to my present satisfaction in singlehood on a direct path. My route was littered with buffalo-sized speed bumps and torturous detours.

Married at 20 for only seven years, I slipped in and out of short-term relationships for the next two decades, driven to be coupled. I believed I was destined for a life-giving, mutually beneficial relationship in my mid-forties. After all, I had grown into a mature, confident, and vibrant woman. My confidence dived when at 48, I learned my dream partner bedded two other women on his trucking route. Facing life alone hit me hard on my 50th birthday. Mascara was not an option when dressing to attend the party for my nephew’s nuptials. After that day of tears, I moved into my single phase residing there comfortably for the last decade.

It took my 30s and 40s to revise the family and societal expectations of coupledom and discard my mother’s statement to me after my divorce at 27. “Find a man before you’re too old and ugly and no one wants you.” In talking with women over 50, many of us find one thing in common. If we ever did, we no longer capitulate to solely meet or fulfill others’ needs, some of us prioritizing our interests for the first time.

Now and for the past eleven-plus years, I want me. I am the only one to be irked if my kitchen table has become my second office utilizing a speedy acquisition flat surface filing system.  I prefer my terminology over one partner labelling my technique, “flat surface disease.” My bedside table is littered with a bright light, three or more books and a scratchpad to capture middle-of-the-night inspiration. 

Speaking with certainty for several of my peers, we are not into being a nursemaid without the previous investment of a shared life together. In a coffee club for singles over 50, women commiserated they were only meeting needy men who wanted nurses or caregivers for their grandchildren. There are different options for intimacy if so desired. Many older singles define coupledom differently by maintaining separate residences. That may appeal to even a hard-core loner like me, provided the one who wants to be significant in my life enjoys solitude and different pastimes. That is one way I might consider coupledom now.

Reference links in the body of the story above

St. Claire Book: 

Margaret Laurence Book  Link: 


Learn more about Rusti:

Rusti L Lehay, a global editor and book and writing coach, created over 40 articles guiding writers to authordom. Witnessing writers find and speak in their own voice to serve the real boss, the audience, not the editor, is one of Rusti’s greatest joys. She offers bi-monthly online writing STAY-Treats and monthly lounges and teaches weekly creative writing classes. Her primary mission is to inspire, provide value and make writing fun and easy.


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