How to be Erotic After 50

What turns me on?

I asked myself that recently.

And holy shit, I drew a blank.

I had just read a staggering essay by Audre Lorde pronouncing the erotic as a source of power. And I wanted to summon this power within myself.

I looked for the erotic space in my mind. But my mind kept trying to squeeze old images of my younger, sexier self into a future frame of reference. When I tried to come up with new visualizations, new stories of erotic possibility, I was met with a crisis of the creative.

My future frame of erotic locus was stuck on replay. And the old timeworn images no longer turned me on. Every time I tried to find something new, it faded back to blank.

I realized that my mind’s catalogue of erotic cultural reference did not have suggestions for me, a woman over fifty. When I did more of my personal mental research and perused the older stacks of erotic material in my mind, I learned much of my turn-on history was about turning on someone else. Could it be that it was never about me?

It’s hard to admit, but most of my erotic life has been about someone else’s erotic life. And it seems that when my early talent for turning others on began to wane, I closed up shop.

My turn-on needs an update.

I need an erotic software update, and I need to design the software myself.

Here are four brief thoughts that helped me uncover my personal and evolving erotica. Now far be it for me to prescribe what turns anybody else on, but I can suggest these starting points to help you build recognition of your own “turned-on” self. I hope you find them useful.

Don’t limit your erotic life to sex or your sexiness.

It is much, much more than this. Eroticism is the energy that motivates sexual interest and behavior, true, but this energy also fires up the life force and breeds vitality, vibrancy and fierceness.

Move over garter belts and panties, and make room for other sources of eroticism. I have something new to feel and something new to create. And that thought turns me on!

The source for the erotic is in you

It comes from you and it belongs to you. Like me, many of us are fooled into thinking that some external force creates and controls erotic resource. I acted like someone else had control of my erotic dial and I let them turn the dial down to below simmer.

Take back the control.

I started to see my body as containing an interiority of energy source that I myself could ignite. The turn on comes from inside out. And this is truly a turn-on.

The erotic requires discrepancy.

The collective message of what is erotic for women over 50 needs diversification! Our cultural maps for the aging woman are heavily biased with a potent virus of implicit ageism, sexism and racism. These implicit isms (and lots of explicit ones too) are sitting heavily on our consciousness and blocking our “becoming.” Really, imagine these isms as a big giant butt sitting on your face, blinding, deafening and trapping you in place. Wriggle out from under. Now. You can do it.

Get out from under and look around. Look beyond what you know. Expose yourself to different ideas and ways of being. Become curious about the world. Let this curiosity ignite the fire of the erotic. Sameness breeds numbness. Dare to be different.

Being erotic is a creative act.

Here’s a good place to start. Creativity requires imagination and openness to experience. Open yourself to the arts. Develop a personalized aesthetic sensibility. Cultivate your imagination. Imagine yourself as a source of erotic power. Imagine women everywhere recreating what it means to be turned on. Our collective identity needs your input.

So next time you see a piece of art or a sculpture, take a moment, really observe what you see. Try to notice something new. And then look inside of yourself. What is going on in there? Feel it. Let yourself animate from within. Let this animation move you to notice something else. Do this with music. Do this with nature. And by all means, do this with people.

Notice, notice more, look inside and notice again. Let what you see and feel fill you with energy and aliveness. Home-grown erotic juice. Turn yourself on.

Psychotherapist Esther Perel describes the erotic as the creative act that is an antidote to death. She sees eroticism as our bridge to survival and revival. When we give up the erotic, we succumb to a neutered, unimaginative deadness.

Let’s not let deadness define our collective womanhood. Lets break new barriers and diversify what it means to experience power in the erotic.

I discovered there is a lot that turns me on. I think you will too.


Each week Dr. Cecilia Dintino and Psychotherapist Hannah Murray Starobin will speak with women who have twisted their plots and discovered that life after 50 can be filled with imagination, inspiration, laughter, and endless possibilities.

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