Dating at Our Age?

I’ve been pondering the topics I’ll cover in my new workshop — “How the Heck Do I Date at This Age?” — which I’ll debut in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin  on Oct. 1 and 2, 2011. (See my events page for details.)

Can I get you involved? If you’re newly dating again, or if you’ve been single and dating for a long time, what questions and/or tips do you have for the rest of us?

For example, people who attend my book signings and speeches have asked me these questions about online dating and dating in general:

  • Is it okay to lie about my age? If I don’t, no one will date me.
  • When I’m ready to have sex with a new person, how do I know if he’s “safe”?
  • Why do men pursue me like crazy and then suddenly disappear and I never hear from them again?
  • After I meet someone, how do I say I don’t want to see him/her again without hurting his/her feelings?
  • Why do women show photos of their pets and grandchildren on their profiles? I don’t want to date their pets or grandchildren.
  • Why do men wear sunglasses in their profile photos? It looks like they’re shifty and hiding.
  • Is there a nice way to ask women to send a full-body photo? Not nude or revealing, just showing their body type.
  • Why do men think that 30-50 pounds overweight is “average” build?
  • (From a man:) I posted my profile and got so many responses that I couldn’t possibly answer them all. Are men so outnumbered?
  • (From a woman:) I posted my profile — why didn’t I get any responses?

You can bet I have answers for all of these, but I want to know your opinion first and get our community talking. Here’s how you can participate with your comments:

  • 1. Choose any of the above questions, and take a stab at the answer.
  • 2. Add questions of your own.
  • 3. Add tips to help seniors navigate dating at our age.
  • 4. What else should we know?

After I get an array of comments, I’ll write an update with my views. Your turn first!

Check out more “seniors dating” posts here.

Your Questions about Senior Sex

When I give a talk about senior sex, my favorite part is answering your questions. I feel both proud and humble that you trust me (and the audience) enough to voice your concerns.

I’ve been traveling to tell people about my new book, Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex and talking at bookstores, sexuality shops, a senior center, a restaurant, and my 50th high school reunion (!) about the myths and realities of older age sexuality. Here are some of the most frequent questions and topics you’ve been sharing:

 

  • The #1 question from partnered seniors is how to revive a dull, infrequent, or nonexistent sex life. I talk about scheduling sex and understanding that at our age, desire often follows physiological arousal rather than the other way around. In other words, getting started with touching and kissing will get you in the mood after your body starts responding — don’t wait to be in the mood.
  • Single seniors ask about the importance of safe sex, hoping (from the wording of your questions and the looks on your faces) that I’ll tell you we probably don’t need condoms at our age. I tell you the opposite of that — yes, we need to use condoms, and we should do so whether someone tells us his or her health history or not. The fastest growing population for new HIV infections is the over 50 age group.

 

    •  Women whose partners experience erectile difficulties often don’t understand what’s going on (“Is it because I don’t attract him any more?”) or what to do to keep the sensuality going in the relationship (“Isn’t it cruel teasing if I want to touch and be touched?”).
  • Both men and women scoff at the idea of sex toys until I tell them why a well-placed vibrator can mean the difference between orgasm or not.

Is it any surprise that that one place people were reluctant to ask questions was my high school reunion? It’s understandable — we were with people we hadn’t seen since we were 17 and our main sex problem was how to hide our activities from our parents! When I saw that my classmates were uneasy about asking questions, I said, “If you’d rather talk to me privately, I’ll be giving consultations in the corner.”

For the rest of the weekend, people came up to me to request their “consultation in the corner”!

Your comments are welcome. If you were in my audience, what question do you hope I’d answer? If you’re brave, include the answer you think I’d give!

If you want to be in my audience for real, click here to see my upcoming events. I’d love to meet you!

Saying “No” with Class: Rejections I’ve Liked

I thank you for the positive response to my Dating Advice for Men Over 50. My dabbling in online dating continues to be interesting, often funny, sometimes frustrating when the dating sites seem to ignore my criteria when announcing with great fanfare that they’ve found a match for me.

As I’ve said earlier, I’m going into this to expand my social life and meet good men who might become friends, or provide an hour of interesting conversation, or stimulate me to pursue a deeper relationship — or just remind me why I enjoy my single life. I’m not earnestly seeking a soul mate or looking to get married. This gives me the advantage of being able to take this whole process lightly, and my day is not ruined by a rejection or by the paucity of applause-inducing matches.

Sometimes I read a profile that leaves me saying, “Wow! I’d like to know this person!” and I send an e-note expressing why his profile interested me. Occasionally my interest is returned, but that’s rare (I’m not sure why). Usually I’m ignored. I really like it, though, when the recipient of my interest sends me a polite “No, thank you.”

To encourage you to do this, here are some of the nice ways I’ve been turned down:

  •     Thanks for the note and kind comments. My age range is general, like any sensible man would say, but it can be a factor. Equally, if not more, important, is the geographic range. While I know that your city is not on the other side of the moon [comment from Joan: we live about 40 mi. apart], it is too far for me at this point of this odd online dating process. I have tried the long distance relationship a few times, and each time, it proved too much the struggle. So, thanks for reaching out, and I wish you the best. 
  •    I am so honored that you would send me an email. You look and sound like a delightful woman, and I enjoyed reading your profile. However, as flattered as I am by your contact, it’s my strong hunch that we’re really not a match. So, let me send you my best wishes for meeting your match.  
  •    Actually, I am looking for a soul-mate. Dating and friendship is fine, but I would like to “go all the way” as it were. About four years ago, I dated a woman who had lost her husband and I thought we were a pretty good fit, but she loved her husband very much and had no room for me. You seem like a smart and interesting person, and I could be making a mistake, but somehow I feel that we aren’t a good fit either. You may be right in looking for a widower. Thanks for writing me.
  •    Thank you for the contact and the nice words. I am in a process of transition, learning to listen to myself and find out what I am looking for at this juncture in my life. You seem like a beautiful and interesting person. However at this point I don’t feel that we would be a good match for dating. I send my heartfelt wishes to you to find the person and love that you seek and deserve.

 Readers: Have you received “no, thank you” notes that made you smile instead of cringe? Have you sent any you’d like to share?

1/30/11 update: Here’s a rejection I really didn’t like — after a few emails and a phone conversation, an interesting man and I  made a walking date — and he didn’t show up. Didn’t show up, didn’t call, didn’t respond to my “are you running late?” phone messages. I wasn’t even close to home — I was out of town (out of my town; in his town) on a weekend trip, and could have planned something more stimulating than waiting at the designated meeting spot. I didn’t know people our age could be that discourteous.

2/2/11 update: I was surprised by a phone call from the no-show described 1/30 — turns out he was injured and in the hospital, and days later felt up to making his way through returning calls and notifying people. So I completely misjudged him, and I apologize.

Dear John, I Love Jane: book review

Dear John, I Love Jane — isn’t the title perfect? — is a 2011 anthology edited by Candace Walsh and Laura André (who happen to be a couple) and written by women who left their straight life/ relationships/ husbands because they fell in love with women.

Some always knew they were attracted to women, but bowed to society’s norm and married men anyway. Others had no idea they could or would fall in love with a woman.

The stories are engrossing, well-crafted, intimate, and dramatic. I felt I was sitting in a room hearing these women’s personal stories — their conflicts, thrills, misgivings (sometimes), and declarations.

When Seal Press offered me this book to review, I emailed back, “I hope some of the stories highlight women over 50.” I was surprised and pleased to learn that several of these authors are over 50, and in case you want to read their stories first–as I did–here are their names: Leigh Stuart, Sheila Smith, Susan Grier, Meredith MaranKami DayMicki Grimland, and Katherine Briccetti.

I loved many of the stories, including “Memoirs of a Wanton Prude” by Sheila Smith, who first fell in love with a woman at age 69. As a teen, she was taught that gays and lesbians were “Sick! Immoral! Perverted!” and she fought back her feelings until age 50. Still, she stayed with her husband, “reading lesbian books and [keeping] my feelings about women under wraps. A divorce and a few years of solitude readied her to meet Diana, who taught her that “Lesbians are about intimacy”: “It wasn’t so much she wanted to go to bed with me; it was that she wanted to wake up with me.”

One of the most moving stories to me was “The Right Fit” by Kami Day (also over 50), who was raised Mormon and was taught that “Heavenly Father had made one man whose penis would fit just perfectly inside my vagina,” and that perfect fit would be revealed on her wedding night. It wasn’t. But 15 years later, the perfect fit arrived: Michele. And 15 after that, they are still together, “using only about half the mattress in our double bed.”

The writing is terrific — often lyrical, sometimes funny, and full of surprises. For example:

  • “I have always been far more turned on by our magical, slippery little orchid than by their — what is that? A puppet? Some sort of sea creature?” (Veronica Masen)
  • “My body has a need that’s burning a hole through the mattress. My brain is hanging on for dear life to what remains of my heterosexuality.” (Meredith Maran)
  • “I had never imagined kissing another woman, but now I did, wanting to know the gentleness of soft skin, the taste of female, this female.” (Susan Grier)
  • “I had recurrent dreams of making out with Ellen DeGeneres in a rustic Spanish house in Santa Barbara.” (Leigh Stuart)

Dear John, I Love Jane is an important book. It is more than a lesbian anthology — it’s about women making choices at first that go counter to what they really want or need (and isn’t that especially true of our age group?), then facing and accepting — and being thrilled by! — their true natures. It shows women’s sexual fluidity in a way we seldom see or acknowledge.

When I was writing Naked at Our Age, several women over 50 sent me their stories about marrying men (some quite contently, others battling their nature) and in later life discovering love with another woman — or wanting to experience sex with another woman and not yet putting it into action. If this book had been out then, I would have recommended it. I recommend it now!

Purchase the Dear John, I Love Jane on Amazon or order from your independent bookseller.

As always, I welcome your comments.