feeling good about your bodyHi Sandy,

I’m so glad you are now going to be here for help.  I have been divorced for over 4 years, but we were separated for 3 years before that.  I tell people I did not date because our daughter was only 11, and she needed stability.  The truth is more complicated.

The main reason I did not date is because of shame.  When I was pregnant in my early 30’s, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had been so proud that my once small breasts were now a D cup.  Ha-the old pride cometh….  Anyway, they took out the breast, but because I was pregnant did not do reconstruction at that time.  It took me two years of convincing to do the other breast.  

To make a fairly long story a little shorter, my breasts were very much a part of my sexuality.  The main reason I haven’t dated is I have no idea at what stage of the relationship I am supposed to “reveal” my fake breasts with no feeling, or what the man might say.  I still have that concern.  What do men think?  American men seem to be breast-obsessed, and I just don’t need the rejection.

Thanks,  Diana

Hi Diana,

Thank you for having the courage to ask a tough question. I can only imagine how it must have felt to endure breast cancer treatments and lose your breasts, a major part of your sexual identity. Your issue is relevant not only to breast cancer survivors who have undergone mastectomies and reconstruction, but to anyone dating in midlife, struggling with body image and redefining their sexuality.

What turns a man on?

You’re absolutely right, many men are turned on by a woman’s breasts. They’re also turned on by her legs, the crease in her elbow, the way she moans when he kisses her neck. Some men are turned on by long legs, short muscular legs, compact bodies, lean bodies, long blonde hair, or short spiky hair. Have I made my point yet? Yes, men are turned on by a variety of things, and it’s not just about a woman’s physical appearance.

A quality man is thoughtful and conscious about the opposite sex. He will be turned on by the whole package–her intelligence, her spunk, and her feistiness. He’ll love her laughter and how he feels when he’s with her.

So if a good guy will fall in love with all of you, it’s important that you feel the same about yourself. If you’re shameful and self-conscious about any part of yourself, body or soul, it will be evident, possibly even a turn-off.

Have you ever seen a middle-aged balding man with a large gut check himself out in a mirror? He’s usually thinking, “I am hot stuff!” He doesn’t obsess about cellulite, sagging skin, or anything else that comes with middle age.

Take a lesson from that wide-girthed man, and send some love to any part of yourself that is feeling “less than.” That may sound hokey, but it really isn’t. If you’re ashamed of your breasts, stand naked in front of the mirror every day, and show gratitude and love to your new breasts. You could say something like, “I am so grateful that you are formed from my healthy tissue. I am thrilled to be alive and well today. Instead of a mastectomy scar, I am lucky enough to have breasts again.” The more you love your breasts, the more comfortable you’ll feel when you get naked again in front of a man. And confidence is very sexy.

So, when do you get naked?

This is a much-debated topic among dating experts. Do you wait three dates, three months, or three years to have sex? Okay, three years is a bit extreme. My “when to have sex” philosophy is that you wait until you’re both ready to be exclusive. That could happen on a first date (rarely), but more likely a few months into the relationship.

Here’s how it can play out. You are both interested in each other, and you slowly develop a sense of trust and intimacy. You reveal and share parts of your lives, letting down guards, opening up to each other. You also begin to get physical, from the brush of a hand on your back, to the excitement of a passionate kiss.

If he makes the move to get naked and have sex before you’re ready, you can gently let him know your standards.

What do you say if he wants sex before you’re ready?

Here’s a sample script:

“Nick, I’m really attracted to you, and I’m enjoying getting to know you. I want to be up front with you. I don’t sleep with a man until we’re both ready to be exclusive. This is not to pressure you at all. Just letting you know what I need before having sex. Trust me, when and if we do make love, you’ll be in for the night of your life! Until then, let’s continue to enjoy being sexy in other ways. How do you feel about that?”

A good guy will totally respect your standards. In fact, most men would prefer knowing what a woman is thinking and needing, rather than try and read her mind. It’s refreshing for him to learn that you are not a prude, you’re attracted to him, and you will have sex when/if you’re both on the same page in the relationship.

So, my advice to you, Diana, is to first get intimate with your body, especially your new breasts. Love the body you’re in now. Whether or not you do the mirror exercise, please make it a priority to love yourself naked. You can even apply a rub-on tattoo on your breasts, something sparkly and girly that makes you happy. It will make you smile. Because no matter what shape you’re in, “firm and toned” is not what most middle-aged men are expecting when you take your clothes off!

Then, when you meet that great guy, take it slow, at your own pace. If you build trust and intimacy before your clothes come off, it will be much easier to strip naked, literally and figuratively, at the right time.

For more midlife dating advice and a copy of my free report, “The Top Three Mistakes Midlife Daters Make (and how to turn them around to find love now)” click here.

Please email dating/relationship questions to: sandy@lastfirstdate.com

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