As a loud and proud cougar who made the British tabloids for having such a great sex life in my 40s, I’m thrilled to see Clare Crawley, 38, cast as the next Bachelorette. And based on the social media reaction, I’m not the only one.
Clare is the hero we need right now because “older” women are more likely to know what they want. Far from being desperate, as society claims, they’re usually single at that age because they refuse to settle for less than what they deserve.
Full disclosure: I never considered myself a huge fan of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette before. Among other things, I’d always just assumed the franchise wouldn’t speak to me as a woman who’s never cared that much about getting married. I’d rather be alone at any age than feel alone by settling with the wrong person out of fear. With the announcement that Clare will be the Bachelorette, though, I realized the biggest reason why I kept turning off the show: I can’t relate to a 23-year-old who says she’s ready to settle down with one man forever…before she’s old enough to even rent a car without a surcharge.
Clare isn’t interested in settling, as we’ve seen already with her willingness to walk away from Juan Pablo. And on Good Morning America, she said she wants a man who’s willing to let his guard down and be emotionally brave. As someone who’s learned the hard way not to date emotional gold diggers, I’m already a fan of this attitude and approach. Clare can hopefully teach all of us what to look for in a healthy partner and what to not settle for.
And, as Clare pointed out in that interview, age is a benefit because it has taught her what she does and doesn’t want. I didn’t have my first worthy orgasm until my mid 30s because I didn’t know my body or what I wanted sexually due to lack of experience and a tendency to hook up with selfish dudes who just didn’t care. So imagine how little I knew about serious relationships, especially the kind that might lead to marriage, in my 20s. I admire younger people’s infectious enthusiasm and positive outlook, but age and experience are what teach human beings about everything in life. Those much-needed lessons are hard. They take time. Why do you think Yoda and Gandolf are so smart? Age and experience!
Clare knows her worth. Not despite her age. Because of it.
More than anything, though, having Clare cast is about representation. Women (and men!) are waiting longer to get married and have been for a while, so it’s nice to see the Bachelor franchise better reflect our reality. Clare not only has the confidence and experience of an older woman who knows her worth, but she’s also been around the block at Bachelor Nation. She knows what she’s doing and won’t be pushed around.
We need women like this. Someone who wants to find love and is optimistic, but who’s not willing to sacrifice herself or her integrity in order to get it. Clare represents the very best part of being older and unwed—you stop worrying so much about being alone. And when you don’t let society manipulate you into making decisions based on fear or social pressure, you attract the kind of person who respects you as much as you respect yourself. I can’t wait to watch.
Melanie Hamlett is a comedian, storyteller, and journalist from New York City who’s now based in Europe.