The liberation of dating after 50: 'I know a man doesn't define me'

Lori Anne Douglass
Lori Anne DouglassCourtesy Lori Anne Douglass

At 51, I’d say there are six words that best describe me. Mom. Loving. Tough. Funny. Driven. Divorced.

Lori Anne Douglass is a mom, attorney and, at 51, a self-proclaimed dating expert.Today

The first word is my biggest accomplishment in life. I’m the mother to Trey, a fabulous 17-year-old, who I get along with very well. However, like any normal teenage son, Trey would rather die than to be confronted with the fact that his mom is a sexual woman.

Lucky for him, his mother gets up early to walk our black labs, Raven and Raisin, and then gets on her grind until bed, alone. During the week, I work to live as an attorney. On the weekends, I work for love as a mom. I relish both roles, but mom and attorney do not make up all of me, because there is still the woman with “needs” that Trey doesn’t come in contact with since he is gone most weekend nights spending time with his dad and extended family.

Related: Do you have questions about sex after 50? Click here to have them answered by TODAY experts

The last word — divorced— is what qualified me, I suppose, to talk about dating after 50 on TODAY with Hoda Kotb.

I love Hoda and was excited to discuss a topic on which I am somewhat of an expert. I have been dating my entire adult life. I married for the first time when I was 22, after my first year of law school. He and I divorced a few years later. When the court clerk learned I was an Assistant District Attorney handling my own divorce, he expedited the matter and I was divorced by noon the next day. I dated up a storm until I married Trey’s father at age 30. Since divorcing Trey’s father (did that one myself, too), I have had numerous relationships ranging from extremely satisfying to downright lousy. Right now, there is no one special but I am sure another “Mr. Right” will come along for me to date.

Lori and Hoda Kotbe got to discuss Dating after 50 on TODAY.Today

So a TODAY segment on dating seemed right up my alley. On the day of the shoot, I learned there was also a workshop with a dating coach who helps women over 40 find husbands. While interesting, getting married again is not on my “Bucket” list. I have been there, done that and, most importantly, do not have a strong desire to do it again.

It was fascinating to spend an entire day talking and thinking more about marriage than I have in years. Suddenly and quite unexpectedly, I fell into a time machine and reflected on myself in my 20s, 30’s and even early 40’s. Although I am not sure I even knew it, in those days getting married was number one on my list of needs. I thought I needed a man for most everything. I absolutely wanted to be a mother and my own mother made it quite clear that I better have a husband before I have a baby. If I wanted a life in the suburbs and to provide my children with the best educational opportunities, I felt I needed to be part of a two income household. In a husband, I wanted a friend, confidant and teammate, as well as a lover to fulfill my “needs.”

What I realized after the workshop is that before 50, I needed a man to feel complete. It’s as if I was less than if I arrived to the party alone. But now, on the other side of 50 — having lived and learned — while it would be nice to be in a good relationship with a man, I certainly don’t need to find one. At my age, I know that a man doesn’t define me.

Today, I have a great life. I love being a mom and know I have accomplished greatness just by having had Trey. I am passionate about my work and am blessed to be able to provide a nice lifestyle for myself and my son. I have a wonderful family and fabulous friends that support and love me, unconditionally. But most of all, at 50, I am happy and content because I know I am complete, just as I am and all by myself.  

Lori, her son Trey and their two dogs Raven and Raisin.Today