But, writes Samantha Selinger-Morris, many on the scene say such stories don’t quite capture the dating scene and messiness of pursuing romance as an older woman. Screenwriters seem to have realised that older people’s relationships are inherently more complicated — and therefore juicier — than those of younger people. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the Netflix series Grace and Frankie.
Netflix series Grace and Frankie explores the sexual experiences of two women in their 70s. When American businesswoman Darlene Daggett sued her matchmaking services firm last month for setting her up on a string of horrific dates, the news ricocheted around the world. Another potential suitor told her he was waiting for his terminally ill wife to die before re-entering the dating pool. Ms Daggett and the matchmaking company ended up settling out of court.
Not nearly as fazed by these “dates from hell” was Melbourne-based columnist Helen Razer, who knows firsthand how perplexing — and amusing — dating as an older woman can be. I wondered if we would have sex surrounded by stuffed toys and family photos,” Razer writes in The Helen 100, the book she released earlier this year, about the dating binge she undertook after her partner of 15 years up and left. This was not wishful thinking. It’s what happened after one of Razer’s dates, who had promised the columnist a night of mutually agreed upon “rough sex”, sprung on her the news that his babysitting plans had fallen through.
Would Razer, 49, mind joining him and his nine-year-old daughter to see Barbie Live: The Musical? And yes, she did mind. I wasn’t getting laid tonight,” Razer would later write. My vagina had fused shut like Barbie’s. Take a look at the comments to see some dating stories from some of our readers. These dating experiences sound made up, the sort of stories you’d expect to see in a Girls for the menopausal set — if such a series existed. Day, sent up the previously unspoken Hollywood “law” that women above the age of 40 are as desirable as drywall.
Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Trogneux. French President Emmanuel Macron and his older wife Brigitte Trogneux’s relationship has recently captivated the media. Netflix has just renewed for a fourth season Grace and Frankie, a show starring Jane Fonda about the unlikely friendship and sexual experiences of two women in their 70s. Our Souls at Night, a movie about a widowed pair in their 70s who climb through each other’s windows for booty calls, has just been released in the US.
And Australian columnist Kerri Sackville has just written a how-to-survive dating book for older women — inspired by her own horrific and hilarious experiences — that is currently sitting on her agent’s desk. But while commentators say pop culture’s embracing of stories about older women is a positive development for a generation that has been habitually ignored by mainstream media, many women on the dating scene say the stories hitting our screens and bookstores don’t quite capture how messy it can be to pursue a romantic relationship when you’re in your late forties and up. Professor Imelda Whelehan, an expert on ageing and popular culture at the Australian National University, thinks the trend has resulted in part from the realisation, on behalf of media gatekeepers, that older viewers want to see their experiences reflected back at them. Older Australians in aged care facilities are speaking out about their unmet sexual needs. When I go to my local indie cinema here in Canberra, I’m one of the younger ones,” said Professor Whelehan, who is 57. She notes the current trend comes on the back of recent film and television successes like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the award-winning HBO hit mini-series Olive Kitteridge. There might also be a growing awareness among writers and filmmakers that older people’s relationships are inherently more complicated — and therefore “juicier” — says Professor Whelehan, because their love lives frequently involve more family members.
A friend of mine who’s about my age said she had to have an embarrassing conversation with her quite-old mother about safe sex,” she says. It’s a conversation that could’ve been ripped from the third season of Grace and Frankie, which revolves around a company that Fonda’s character and her best friend, played by Lily Tomlin, establish to create vibrators for older women — their kids are embarrassed. But according to older women on the dating scene, that plotline doesn’t even begin to reflect the mountains of drama and humiliation they’re routinely forced to navigate while pursuing a relationship. This is because, compared to men in their twenties and thirties, older men are often drowning in baggage.