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  • Writer's pictureKaren Bigman

The Vital Role of Community in Rediscovering Sexuality and Intimacy in Midlife

I recently returned from South Africa where I learned of the concept of "Ubuntu"- the ancient African ethos of 'humanity towards others,' which teaches us that 'I am what I am because of who we all are.' The power of community is a pivotal element of our existence. This principle doesn't just apply to our social and familial relationships but extends deeply into the more intimate corners of our lives, especially during the transformative years of midlife.

In midlife, when we navigate the myriad changes brought on by menopause and the male equivalent -andropos, the feeling of isolation can be overwhelming. Whether it’s the rollercoaster of hormonal changes, the challenges in maintaining or rediscovering sexual intimacy, or simply seeking a deeper connection with oneself and others, the value of a supportive community is immeasurable.

Interestingly, community has always been a cornerstone of several non-traditional lifestyles. The 'kink' community doesn't just practice in dungeons, they often participate in regular social meetups (in public venues) called "munches." These communities serve not just as social groups but as vital spaces for education, safety, and support. They exemplify how sharing experiences and knowledge within a trusting environment can profoundly impact individuals' well-being and satisfaction.

The practice of Polyamory is based on the premise of engaging in multiple intimate relationships with the consent of all involved parties. Polyamory thrives on clear communication, mutual respect, and understanding - all principles that are strengthened and upheld within a community setting. For midlife individuals exploring or embracing polyamory, these communities offer a beacon of guidance, acceptance, and camaraderie.

Reflecting on Ubuntu, one sees how this ethos illuminates the essence of community in our sexual and intimate lives. It reminds us that our personal experiences of sexuality and intimacy are shared, to an extent, by those around us. The wisdom, strength, and compassion we derive from these shared experiences propel us forward, offering us richer, more fulfilling journeys.

In midlife, when we are grappling with the changes and challenges that this period brings. Engaging with and contributing to communities aligned with your experiences and needs can be life-changing. Whether it’s through discussing the impact of hormonal changes on sexuality, navigating the adventure of dating post-divorce, or simply seeking a deeper understanding of one’s desires and boundaries, the community offers a mirror reflecting not just our struggles but also our possibilities and potential for growth.

It’s within these spaces that we can find solidarity, empowerment, and a deeper sense of belonging. Let's remember the lesson of Ubuntu: 'I am what I am because of who we all are.' By fostering open, supportive, and engaged communities, we not only enrich our own lives but also contribute to a more open, understanding, and sexually positive society. Finding your tribe can be the key to rediscovering joy, pleasure, and connection in the most encompassing sense.

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