Love: what does it mean to me now I'm in my fifties?

Love: what does it mean to me now I'm in my fifties?

We should never give up experiencing something new about love and friendship

We should never give up seeking out new experiences in love and friendship, says Carol Vorderman. 

Life and all the relationships we create and connect with change all the time, so I confess I have some pretty flexible ideas about what love actually is.

As a daughter, sister, mother, lover and wife, I’ve been blessed with the chance to experience so many different versions of love. I get reminded on a daily basis why I love those closest to me and why they love me. A lot of it has to do with laughter and kindness.

When it comes to romance, unlike the movies, well let’s just say… I’m not very romantic. I’ve been in love a few times (haven’t we all?) and that changes with age and what you want or need. In your twenties, someone to have a good time with… thirties, someone to have children with maybe… in your forties, someone you actually like, and then for me as a divorced and strictly single woman I’m right back to where the girls in their twenties are… someone to have a good time with (but who I respect too). 

Now, that might not fit into what we are all told from the age of three ('they got married and lived happily ever after’), but the fact is, most don’t live happily ever after – some do, but we should stop this ridiculous attitude that a woman isn’t fulfilled unless she’s part of a couple. I’m here to tell you that simply is untrue.

Valentine’s Day has always been a curious celebration to me. I think by now, as women of a certain age – perhaps you are still married, or divorced or married again or widowed – we all know that romantic love can’t be just summed up or satisfied with an overpriced candlelit meal and a bunch of flowers. It can be all encompassing or it can be fleeting. But whether or not you have someone special to make eyes at across a table this Valentine’s Day, take a little time to think of those other ways you are loved and that you show your love every day.

When it comes to love of our children or our parents, it’s in the everyday things we do for each other, as well as those nights we spend worrying about their school results, health or job applications. It could be something as simple as a fit of giggles over something that no two other people on earth would find funny! 

I’m so lucky I have that kind of relationship with both my children and my mum. When we are all together, you would be hard pressed getting a sensible word out of any of us we are laughing so much! Katie and I spent a whole afternoon over Christmas crawling around on the rug in the lounge crying laughing at a whole philosophy I’d dreamt up about looking at the big light from underneath… it was a pile of rubbish and that’s what we were laughing at.

Who else did I leave off my list just now? Daughter, sister, mother, lover, wife – yes I am or have been all these. But also… FRIEND.

I love to have my friends around me. Louise is a great buddy of mine and she lives two doors away. Pepe is another friend who I met when she won Teacher of the Year award at the Pride of Britain. Both of them I respect and challenge and spend a lot of time with. We are honest with each other, and that is critical. Lou always says, “If you don’t want the answer, don’t ask the question…” Genius. 

How we are with our friends totally captures how love changes. Sometimes we’re there to share happy times with them, and occasionally we might have to hold them to account or to hear a truth from their lips that we’d prefer not to hear.

We are the play date, the confidante, the style consultant, the jester, the audience, even the other half (on those many occasions when we can’t face taking a date to a party, wedding or on holiday). Each of these roles we play willingly, often playing many of them at the same time and without a script, but you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Like motherhood, friendship keeps evolving. It’s unpredictable, filled with laughter and sometimes causes us heartbreak, but it’s so rich and diverse. Without my friends I would definitely be half the woman I am today.

All in all I think we can agree: love – in all its different guises – is pretty important. To love and to be loved is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Love: whatever it is, let’s have more of it please..

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