At the extremely well-pickled age of 40, I decided to quit drinking. I had had enough. And, quite frankly, so had everyone around me. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the day I quit drinking would also be the day I quit sex. The year was 2000. You do the math — and when you’re done picking your jaw up off of the floor, I’ll continue.
We good? Cool.
Yes, it’s been 19 years since I’ve had sex. I didn’t mean for it to happen that way — it just did. Day after day, year after year, the more I leaned in to my sobriety, the more I leaned away from anyone’s penis. I was never a huge fan of sex anyway, so it was no big deal, but last summer, for the first time since I gave up booze and boys, I thought to myself: Hey, 19 years doesn’t seem normal.
So I did what any typical 58-year-old woman would do — ayahuasca. Why bother with decades of therapy to find out what’s wrong with you when it comes to men when you can just drink a cup of hallucinogenic tea and see your horrendous childhood roll out right in front of you? And that’s pretty much what happened. I finally realized why I am who I am, and I unburied my fairly common and horrendous past with molestation. Boom. Got it. It all makes sense now.
Armed with this new information that wasn’t actually new at all, just buried deep in my psyche, I decided to get back on that dating bus and see if I could get my ticket punched.
Armed with this new information that wasn’t actually new at all, I decided to get back on that dating bus.
My first rude awakening? How the new dating scene works. Oh, so I don’t just walk into a bar, point at someone and take him home? Because that’s the way I did it the last time. Umm, no. Now the only way to “get some” is download a dating app and start wildly whipping through weird humans in ridiculous photos.
I chose Bumble. I put up a few pictures and spent hours on my profile. “Ready to have coffee and super fucking excited about it” was what I came up with. As you can tell, I’m a real delight. And then I started swiping. Left, left, left, left. Are you kidding me with these men who are 100 years old and dead in the eyes!?! I found a few people to swipe right on, but no one matched back to me. Ever. Never. No matter how many times I swiped on someone 50 to 60, we didn’t match.
Then I realized the ugly truth: These dudes don’t even have women my age in their search parameters! They all want younger women. Great. Because I am not against lying, I changed my age and got back at it.
I also decided to stop being conceited and swiped right on some men I wouldn’t normally be attracted to. After all, I don’t remember the last time I took home a pageant title.
Then I realized the ugly truth: These dudes don’t even have women my age in their search parameters!
I matched with a guy we’ll call Greg. Because that’s what his name was. He was a 6-foot-2, gun-toting, right-wing job recruiter — so about as opposite from what I would actually date as you can get. But I was in it, and I was going for it, and so when Greg and I matched, we started texting and before I know it, I think, I may actually meet this man for coffee and not at a police station, where I think all dates from apps should take place. I might actually enjoy a bowl of soup with Greg rather than be made into a bowl of soup by some psycho I matched with online.
So Greg and I are texting about things I don’t care about and would never talk to a human I’m actually attracted to about, but I needed to break the seal. However, before I got a chance to meet this man, the universe intervened and gave me a ruptured appendix. I swear it was psychosomatic. After a grueling five days in the hospital however, I decided to text Greg again.
Here is the conversation:
Me: “Hey, I’m finally feeling like a human being again.”
Greg: “So happy to hear. I’m about to be right where you are in five days.”
Me: “You’re getting your appendix out?”
Greg: “No, my prostate. I have to have surgery. I’m worried about having sex.”
I’m thinking Yay! Bonus! Let’s take that off the table. But then he added … “They told me I may never be able to come again.”
Then I realized what he meant, and I threw my phone across the room. I’m so not ready for this.
And I thought, Come again?
Then I realized what he meant, and I threw my phone across the room.
I’m so not ready for this. Sigh.
I stopped writing to Greg, and the next time I matched with someone, I was overcome with such panic over the concept of going to meet a total stranger somewhere, that I don’t think I’ll ever go back to online dating. I’d rather wait forever in a line for a date with someone I might like than wade online into that black sea of sadness again.
I do, however, finally realize that being a two-time assault victim may make my future dating life a little more intricate than others’, but I’m willing to try. I’m also fully on board with the idea that having a partner doesn’t make your life perfect, that having a boyfriend doesn’t make you any better or any happier than anyone else.
I’m not giving up, but he may just need to fall out of the ceiling and land in my bed, preferably with a bouquet of tulips. And maybe some lube. I have no idea if this thing even works anymore.
Heidi Clements is a TV writer and former executive producer on the Freeform sitcom Baby Daddy. She is addicted to good shoes and bad cake. She lives in Los Angeles with her two dogs, her anxiety, and the judgment of others. Follow her on Instagram.