Lucy Cavendish, aka Lucy Love Coach, has joined Noon as our resident love expert, sharing insights for everyone from those in relationships, those looking for love or those living the single life. Here’s what Lucy can do for your love life:
As the Noon Love Coach I will be looking at the state of relationships right now. What are our expectations? How do we renegotiate our relations post-pandemic, post-children (small children), post many things. There’s a a lot to survive. Possibly the loss of love. The loss of our children as they leave home.
Many couples are doing it differently — they live in different parts of the house or one of them goes on a “gap” year. Some return, some spend more time apart, some spend more time together.
I am here as Lucy Love Coach to guide you through the key aspects of meeting people and finding the relationships you are looking for.
If you are single and coming out of a year of lockdown, you might be wondering how to go forwards. Now might be a time to think about how you want to be in the world.
What I’ve learned about love
In my own life I’ve been single. I’ve co-habited with a long term partner. I’ve got four children by two men both called Michael. I’ve been married. I’m recently divorced. During my years on the planet I have learned a lot about love in all its many forms. I’ve learned how to live with it and how to live without it and how to be contented and happy in both states. Love changes as we age. Whether we are in long term relationships or single, what we want and desire and who we want and desire shifts as we move through different stages of our lives.
In my role as Lucy Love Coach, I see individuals and couples who want to reevaluate how they are in their relationships not just with themselves but with others.
Love in midlife is about reinvention
So where at we at right now? Whether we are married or single, we are all probably going through the stage where we are reinventing our lives in many myriad ways. For some it might be renegotiating their career. For others it’s about letting their children go. It may be moving house, changing countries, re-inventing our lives, thinking about what it is we want to do and how we want to live. But for many women, it’s about a change in their love life and intimate relationships. This is the same whether or not we are single or married or in a long term relationship.
For single women — the ones who haven’t made a conscious decision to be single — it’s a very difficult time. Many women who find themselves single aged 45-plus do not expect to be in this situation. For many, it’s because a past relationship or relationships have gone wrong. There may well be hurt, shattered dreams and disappointment. I meet many women who believe they are “on the shelf”. They struggle with the fear of loneliness and the fact they think no one will want them. They are, as one 50-year-old woman put it, “past their prime”.
Enjoying our age
I am here to let them know this is not true. Women age beautifully. It’s a time whereby we can truly get to know what we want. For me, it’s a chance to think about how I want to be on the planet and who I want to spend my time with. Often this is family and friends and maybe a lover on occasion.
How I felt as a single older woman
However it takes a lot of effort to be single. I remember the last time I was on my own for a period of time when I was in my mid-40s. Whilst part of me really enjoyed it as a chance to do my own thing without having to compromise, I do remember how exhausting it was to be constantly responsible for myself. I remember being at a hotel in Lyme Regis. I had taken myself off for a weekend in order to spend time by myself and by the sea. I went down for dinner and the maitre d’ asked me if I was meeting someone. No, I said, I’m on my own. He gave me a strange look and then yelled out really loudly “Table for me! Table for one!” and I felt so embarrassed and ashamed. I also used to watch people at parties. Whereas I had to work the room by myself, they had a back-up with them. They had another person to grab their coat at the end of the night and steer them on to transport in order to get hime. I missed that sense of being cared about.
Caring deeply for ourselves
I don’t feel that way now. I know now that I am the person who needs to deeply care for myself. I feel no shame at being single. It doesn’t mean I am “not chosen” (many clients tell me they feel this way). It means I am finding out how I want to be for this next part of my life and I am truly enjoying the experience of giving myself that space and time. Maybe I don’t want to be in something full time any more. Maybe I’d like to have company when and how I choose it. I feel it’s my opportunity to break though a few boundaries. I am finding I enjoy my own company.
Being single means I am finding out how I want to be for this next part of my life
This is something that’s incredibly helpful whether you are in a relationship or not. No person who is self-loathing will manage to get through life if they are tired and angry with themselves.
I feel fine within myself. I am looking forwards to meeting new people, having new experiences, dating anyone as and when I choose to do so. I have never felt so centred and contented with myself and my body and my attitude towards my friend, family, work, the environment and life in general. I have a great sense of peace but I am also excited at what the future holds. Although this past year has thrown some seriously hard an unexpected curve balls at me — financial ruin, emotional breakdown and abandonment, illness of a close friend — I feel utterly fine in coping with this. At a time when many people feel anxious, I feel excited.
Love on our own terms
I also feel I want to love and relationships on my terms. At the moment, I am happy to have a few fun, light sexy relationships. Some of my “companions” are friends. Some boundaries are more mutable — friends with benefits. I have realised that I don’t want to settle down again that quickly.
Where can I meet people?
But the question everyone asks me is where do I meet these people? I have many friends who lament the fact that the can’t seem to meet anyone. But my answer is always the same — there are millions of people on the planet. Of course there are men (and women) out there. I am here as Lucy Love Coach to guide you through the key aspects of meeting people and finding the relationships you are looking for.
The three stages of marriage
What if you are married? Relationship expert Esther Perel says that within a longterm marriage you have at least three marriages. There’s the first part where you have both fallen in love. Then there’s the middle bit where you buy a house/have children/settle down. But how is your relationship now? In many ways, the third part of marriage can be the most exciting.
Marriages can be deeply intimate and exciting even if you have been together for years.
It’s a chance to really look at what’s happening within your marriage or long term relationship. I often meet couples who have come to a standstill. They want to be together but they don’t know how to become intimate again. I don’t just mean sex. I am talking about true intimacy where they dare to be curious about each other, to tell each other their innermost hopes and fears. Marriages can be deeply intimate and exciting even if you have been together for years. They key is to find how to move in to this next stage with interest and compassion. Maybe your partner wants to live part time elsewhere or maybe you want to spend more time apart pursuing your own interest. None of this is a problem if the couple understands why and feels supported and trusted.
What about sex?
Sex, or lack of sex, is a huge issue (forgive the pun) when it comes to couples. Most longterm couples have ceased to have sex or, if they are having sex, it’s perfunctory at best. Play has gone out of the window. Couples often find it hard to talk about this so I suggest they come and have a Love MOT.
This is something I do with couples that come to me for love coaching. We sit down together (or on Zoom) and work out what the couple wants in their life. It’s really interesting to me ho few couples do this. They get together and then they never really express what they want. It’s as if we are just supposed to ‘know’ how our relationship is supposed to be. But most of us have no idea what’s going on in our relationship. We put time and money into personal development on so many levels — work, recreation, self-help — but not in to our love lives.
This is a mistake. I have younger couples (aged 25-plus) who come for couples sessions even with months of getting together. They are a far more emotionally intelligent generation as they have not grown up with the stigma of going to therapy or asking for help. They are articulate and they are aware that in order to have great relationships, they need to do some emotional work.
This is what I will offer as Lucy Love Coach: help and guidance to couples and singles through the jungle of dating, being single (and confident), finding love, maintaining love and then the Love MOT that grows communication, connection and enhanced intimacy for all regardless of our relationship status.
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