When Sex and the City came out in 1998, I was the same age as the characters – a single thirtysomething journalist about town. North London’s answer to Carrie Bradshaw. Perhaps that’s why I was invited onto Channel 4 news to talk about this exciting new show.
As the interview was wrapping up, presenter Jon Snow remarked: “Women picking men up in bars… I’ve never seen that.”
“You’re going to the wrong bars, babe,” I replied.
It’s easy to forget just how groundbreaking SATC was. But can it be again? Because, in the same way the series got sex, dating and single life (pretty much) right for us thirtysomethings in the Nineties, it has to get sex, dating and single life right for us fiftysomethings now.
That’s the reason it was so successful. It hit all the nerves. Remember “He’s just not that into you”? Anything less than the real deal will be too painful for fans who have grown up with Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte. I’m 54 and still single (never married, no children, let’s not dwell) and have had enough disappointment, thanks very much.
So let me tell you – and series creator Darren Star – what dating in your 50s is really like.
Younger men want sex with you but not a relationship – you’re too old. As a matchmaker I interviewed put it: “They’ll sleep with you – you’re the experienced older woman – but why would they want to be with you?” Ouch.
Men your own age, or older, want sex with you but not a relationship – you’re too old. I had a ridiculous ‘age’ moment with a chap on a dating app. After a month of ‘dull but maybe he’s better in person’ chat, he messaged to say we couldn’t get involved “because of the age-gap” but he did have “a thing for hot older women”. He was four years younger than me.
While married men want sex with you but don’t even bother saying they’ll leave their wife – they know you’re too old to fall for that line.
The young see you as a fantasy figure – you’ll be unsurprised to hear I’ve had more than one ‘Mummy’ Telegram – and men your own age see you as a ‘what went wrong?’
One man, 40, unavailable, said to me: “It must be great dating in your 50s – no pressure to find the person you’re going to marry and have children with.”
I’d say there’s more pressure. It’s just as important to find the right person in your 50s, especially if your life didn’t go the way you wanted it to. I’d need someone extraordinarily emotionally intelligent and strong to be what I need now. As Samantha famously said: “I love you, but I love me more.”
As you can see, single life in your 50s is no walk in Central Park, so I’d like to suggest a couple of storylines from someone who knows. We’ll call her ‘Bobo’.
Bobo agrees to meet up (pre or post-Covid) with a man she matched with online. They meet at Grand Central Station and go for cocktails. Bobo isn’t taken with him but decides a little kiss at the end of the night might be nice. It isn’t. They say goodbye and Bobo gets a cab home. On the way, she receives a text from her date. He asks if she has pubic hair.
Bobo is on her way to a hotel to meet a man from Twitter. He DMs her: “Come straight up. Room 22.”
A minute later. “Hurry up. Don’t keep me waiting.”
Bobo follows her instructions. The 35-year-old man opens the door. Topless. Bobo mentally high fives Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte.
“Just before you come in,” he says, eyeing Bobo suspiciously, “This is just sex, right? I mean, you’re almost the same age as my mu...”
Wrong then v right now
What SATC got wrong about 30s single life and what they should get right about 50s single life.
Wrong then: The SATC schtick was you’re judged for being single in your thirties. As Miranda said: “I want to enjoy my success, not apologise for it.”
Right now: I see your ‘judged’ and raise you ‘dismissed’
Wrong then: Samantha: “You dated Mr Big. I’m dating Mr Too Big.”
Right now: It’s wrong to be sizeist
Wrong then: Women used back massagers as sex toys
Right now: Women use sex toys as back massagers