Does Her Past Sex Life Matter?

Don, age 73, who read Better Than I Ever Expected, wrote this email:

A question for Robert Rice. I need your help. Like you I have re-entered the world of two people in the same house after 5 years of no one, and like your Lady, my Lady has had a very active sex life in the period before our meeting. The question is this…how do you deal with that? Do you think about the other men that were before you? I understand that at our age it shouldn’t be an issue but I find myself wondering how I “stack up” to the others. I don’t want to ask, I feel that would be crossing the line. Should I just accept the fact that we are together and that’s the end of it? Tell me how you deal with it… and thank you !

Robert replies to Don:

Don, in response to the question that you asked me, I understand where you’re coming from. I used to worry about this myself. I am fortunate to have someone who assures me that I am the one she loves. This assurance comes in many ways, and sometimes it’s up to me to see and recognize it. This gives me great freedom to let go of worrying about what has happened before.

Since we learn from all our previous sexual experiences what we want and like, and what we don’t, this sexual learning necessarily includes all past lovers. A couple of Joan’s past lovers are now our mutual friends, and both of us get along well with the other’s ex-spouse.

The question whether we measure up to other guys who have had sex with our partner and question whether we are good enough, or big enough, etc., I am told — and believe — it’s much more a male concern than female. In any case, I have come to believe that authentic expression of love and the ability to be playful and experimental seem to be the most reliable ingredients for successful sex, rather than focusing on measuring up (which can only be unknown anyway).

It seems to me that you answered your own question in your last statement about accepting the fact that you are together. That says a lot! It sounds like you’re on the right track!

I hope this helps with your concern.

Joan replies to Don:

When I fell in love with Robert, it didn’t matter to me whom I had bedded before and what I had experienced with anyone else. All that surfaced in my mind was how powerful my bond was with this man I loved. Remember our primary sex organ is our brain. For me, my previous experience was a good thing, because I was done with needing to experiment, and I knew whom/what I wanted, sexually and emotionally. I’ll bet your special lady would tell you the same.

Have other readers dealt with this situation? What do you think about Don’s question? I invite you to comment.

— Joan

Pacific Sun: Tips for Older Lovers

I was interviewed about love in later life by Jill Kramer for the Pacific Sun (Marin County, CA), Feb. 10, 2006, under the title “Tips for Older Lovers“:

I think later-life love is the best. We come to each other with decades of adult life experience, including many relationships that may have helped us grow to the next stage when that person doesn’t fit any more — so then we’re ready for someone who can match us at that next level of growth. So I think it’s natural for us to grow into and grow out of relationships until we get to the point where we really know who we are and what we’re looking for and what we have to give.

It’s harder when you’re older to find the right person. And it’s hard to hold out for someone who’s got everything you’re looking for. So sometimes people get into relationships that are only partially fulfilling because they figure, “Well, I’m not going to do any better.” Yeah, you are! Don’t settle! Do the things you love to do and look around at who else is doing them. Be yourself, don’t put on any kind of an act. Be the person you hope to find.