Several months ago I decided, at the is-it-too-late age of 61, to step away from the idea of finding that one perfect mate who could satisfy all my dreams, give me everything I needed, and be by my side for the rest of time. In other words, I've abandoned the fairy tale and am opting for honest and open relationships.

I’m having a blast. I’m dating a couple of men who all know, vaguely, about each other. It’s a little like the dating we did back in high school, although back then we called it "playing the field." Nowadays,we might call it ethical non-monogamy. I didn’t play the field; in my teen years, I needed a steady dating relationship to show my value as a ‘"chosen" girlfriend. Since I was destined for marriage, that quest, even subconsciously, had already begun.

Letting Loose

Ethical non-monogamy, as a concept, is new for me. It, along with open marriage, swinging, and other forms of expanded relationships, is very in right now. While things are changing, it’s a slow process… with plenty of disapproval. We have lots of rules about how relationships are defined in this country, even when they don’t work or those folks making the rules are secretly breaking them. (Read more about one woman's foray into swinging in How I Became a Swinger.)

I’ve been fairly quiet about my decision to open things up, choosing to share it in a newsletter rather than on my blog. The first declaration brought an immediate loss of two subscribers. The second newsletter, with a little follow-up on my journey, brought two more. It could be coincidence, but I feel pretty certain my new, liberated lifestyle didn’t resonate with those readers. And that’s just fine.

What’s wrong with a 61-year-old woman choosing to have a little fun? The kids are all grown up, I’m self-employed, and there are no other concerns. Isn’t it time to cut loose and have a little fun when we reach at this phase of life?

When I used online dating and was still on the hunt for the "right" man, I found myself setting up fairly strenuous standards for the men I was willing to meet. I was evaluating each one who presented himself (as opposed to the hordes who never showed an interest or failed to respond to my emails) as a possibility for ‘til death do us part. This concept often had me focusing on the wrong things, rather than a few simple criteria: Is this man honest and in charge of his own life? Is he interesting? Could we enjoy some of the same things? Shifting that focus has allowed me to meet several fascinating guys who are looking for a similar woman. No testing and meeting of the family (at this point). No concerns about financial stability, political compatibility, or marital suitability.

Raising Eyebrows

Sure, I’m raising eyebrows among those who are aware of what I'm doing. I don’t care. What matters is that the men I’m seeing know and accept this, and we’re all reasonably content with our status quo. And, no it is not all about the sex. It’s about finding people to enjoy life with.

I spent the majority of my life following all the traditional, family-imposed rules about how to live. I tried to be the good wife. I hope I was the good mother. I volunteered. I baked cookies. Went to church, worked with the PTO, and hid the failures of my marriage and my discontent somewhat successfully. I don’t look much different now that I’ve embraced my sexuality and dared to have relationships with more than one man. My outer appearance is still rather middle-of-the-road, verging on conservative. But, yes, there is sex involved.

Here’s the point of this whole rambling disclosure: I am having the best time of my life. Everything that happened before, every cringe-worthy date, every failed relationship, and every bump in the road have led me to this exact spot. I am seeking experiences that please me. I am no longer worried about public opinion. I’m meeting fascinating people. I feel more energetic and focused than ever. I’m satisfied with the personal journey that I am creating.

My wish for you, dear reader, is that you figure out what you really want and then figure out what changes are necessary to get there. Simple or drastic, it can make a difference when we embrace our desires. Cages get rattled, but it’s typically not the end of the world. Those people who unsubscribe or unfriend us? They’re not really going to impact the quality of our lives. What matters is how we treat ourselves and how we embrace life.